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Satisfying mouth hunger

This week it’s time to reveal the third of the seven types of hunger… mouth hunger.

Mouth hunger is the mouth’s desire for sensations.  It likes variety, particularly variety of flavours and textures.  The mouth is also easily bored and if it becomes accustomed to always being stimulated then it won’t be happy being empty.  You will then begin to snack continually, putting food and drink into your mouth in a continuous stream throughout the day.  In addition, the food industry has increased the level of sensation in food, particularly snack foods, to include more salt, more sugar, more spice and more fat.

Our food preferences with mouth hunger varies between person to person and depends on factors such as genetics, food habits in your family, cultural traditions and conditioning – where you may develop associations of particular foods with pleasant or unpleasant experiences.  For example, strawberries will have an entirely different appeal if you enjoyed them on your wedding anniversary, compared with if you ate them on a long journey where you were travel sick. 

To satisfy the mouth’s hunger for sensation, it isn’t enough to put food into your mouth, chew and swallow it.  In order to feel satisfied, the mind has to be aware of eating and the sensation of chewing.  For example, if you are at a restaurant, the first bit of your meal might taste delicious, as does the second bite.  However, as the conversation begins you can quickly finish your meal and look down and without realising it your plate is empty. After the first few bites you didn’t taste it, as you were busy talking and your mouth has therefore not been satisfied with the food and wants a second helping. 

To satisfy mouth hunger, you therefore need to move from mindless to mindful eating.  Try to have a variety of flavours and textures with your meals and engage in chewing and tasting the food.  During the day, observe mouth hunger and what it is asking for and whether it might be thirsty instead of hungry. Is the rest of your body hungry, or just your mouth?

Mouth hunger affects everyone, but can be a particular problem in cases of binge eating 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.

Julia

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