Hunger is something that everyone knows but if you ask anybody to define it precisely, words may be missing and each individual may perceive it a little differently. Logically, hunger leads to food ingestion. But then why do we eat?
Let’s first imagine things in a simplified way: our body is like a very complex machine that needs fuel to function. But not just any kind of fuel! It is not enough to eat to give it what it needs; it is necessary to eat in a balanced and diversified way.
Why? Because our organism needs a multitude of different nutrients, not only from a quantitative point of view, but also from a qualitative point of view.
Initially, hunger is a very natural biological phenomenon, useful to our organism: it allows us to know when it needs energy. But there is a psychological, emotional component in hunger, which is not always easy to understand.
Our organization has an internal energy regulation system that allows it to manage energy needs and inputs. The feeling of hunger is then only a consequence of the setting in motion of this regulation system. Our central nervous system receives signals from the periphery allowing it to trigger the feeling of hunger but also satiety once we have begun to eat. Triggering the feeling of hunger consists, among other things, in a shift in blood sugar (blood glucose level).
It is therefore well understood that food intake is based on a complex, closely regulated system.
We all know that the body is not separated from the spirit. And this is why emotional and psychological phenomena can intervene in the regulation of this biological system and thus come to disrupt it. This is called emotional hunger (to distinguish it from biological hunger).
When we are born, emotional hunger is the major component of food intake: when the baby sucks, he feeds on milk but also on heat, well-being and safety. Thus, food is inseparable from the feeling of comfort and well-being. This is of course quite normal.
On the other hand, as the years pass, the child grows and he learns how to manage his emotions. Emotional hunger gives way to biological hunger. So it goes if everything runs smoothly. For a number of us, food can continue to be used to bring a sense of security and well-being, such as that of his childhood.
Alongside these phenomena, there are other factors of hunger deregulation: there is very often the need for control. Indeed, some people have an almost irrepressible need to control their food intake despite biological perceptions. For example, “I’m not hungry but I must eat absolutely” or “I ate my two spoons of rice, I’m still hungry but I’ll stop eating now”. These control strategies aim at a better take on one’s life and on oneself. But unfortunately, they have only negative and negative health outcomes: anxiety, depression, guilt and frustration. Moreover, all these feelings will undermine the normal perception of biological hunger.
So even before starting a nutritional reform, a modification of one’s food intake, it is necessary to be able to be taken in charge globally in order to solve first of all the psychological and emotional problems that may exist. Obviously, this is not always the case, but when such problems are present, there is no point in making major changes based on purely nutritional advice if the underlying problem is not resolved.
A naturopath, a therapist, a doctor or any other health care practitioner should be consulted, to understand and take a comprehensive approach to initiating the necessary steps towards healing and well-being. One does not treat only one symptom, one has to see the person who comes to consult him as a single being who needs to be helped as a whole.
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