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Satisfying heart hunger

This week we come to the last of the seven types of hunger…. Heart hunger. 

We associate certain foods with particular memories and the mood or emotion that the memory evokes.  Therefore the memory of special times infuses foods eaten at that time with warmth and happiness.  For example, many people long for foods that they’ve eaten on holiday, or foods eaten with people they loved.  Therefore, the particular food isn’t as important as the mood that it evokes.  If you have a particular comfort food, think back to when you first had that food and how it has before a comfort.  Is it connected to a story that triggers happy emotions and a connection to other people?

Many people are aware that they eat in an attempt to fill a hole, not in the stomach but in the heart.  For example, eating when they are lonely or when a relationship ends.  These are ways that we try to take care of ourselves, but we need to be mindful that filling the stomach doesn’t ease emptiness in the heart. 

Over eating comfort foods wont satisfy heart hunger, but we can start to feed our heart by preparing food for ourselves, and treating ourselves as well as we would a guest.  It only takes a few minutes to arrange food nicely on a plate, to sit down at a table set with colourful utensils and a candle, rather than standing up at the kitchen counter.  In this way we are eating in the present and connecting with the experience, which is far more fulfilling and comforting.  According to Zen teachings, whenever we eat, we take in the energy of many other beings.  The food on our plate, for example, is the product of the sun, the earth, the rain, the insects that pollinated the plants, and many people along the food supply chain, including farmers and grocers.  When we eat we are therefore connecting to this flow of energy that has enabled to food to get to our plate. 

If you feel hungry and recognise that it has arisen from heart hunger, then try to deliberately nourish the heart, by doing something that you love.  For example, talk to someone you love, create something, listen to your favourite music or do anything that you really enjoy.  If you eat, then be mindful to prepare your food as if you were preparing it for a guest and eat slowly with mindfulness of the many steps that have brought the food to your plate.

Heart hunger affects everyone, but can be a particular problem in cases of binge eating, overeating and other disordered eating patterns.  If you have a question about disordered eating then please do give us a call to see if we can help you, or to book a consultation at one of our London nutrition clinics.


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