Head Hunger| March 21, 2023
Learning to navigate the difference between physical hunger and head hunger can take time and practice, but it can be a helpful step in addressing unwanted eating
Iknow I ate enough, but I keep feeling I need more…. There is something telling me I need those cookies, and I won’t be satisfied until I have them! Many women struggle with unwanted eating patterns, eating mindlessly or consuming larger quantities than they would like to.
While there are many reasons that contribute to overeating/emotional eating, one element is triggered by “head hunger.” Think of head hunger like a little voice that tells us we need food, even though our body isn’t physically hungry right now.
Head hunger, as the term suggests, originates from our head, as opposed to our body. It might sound something like this: These Mike and Ikes will give me energy; I already ruined my diet so I might as well eat more now; I need to taste this cake batter to see if it came out good; it would be a shame to waste this food; I had such a hard day — I deserve a treat; I don’t want to insult my husband who bought this for me, so I will eat it; I ate lunch soooo long ago, of course I need to have a snack now; these chips will help me get my work done.
Head hunger can be tricky. It can make it harder for us to pay attention to our natural cues of hunger and fullness, and we may confuse the head hunger for physical hunger. To differentiate between physical hunger and real hunger, think of it like this: Physical hunger tells us we need to eat; head hunger tells us we want to eat. Physical hunger manifests in the body (below the neck) as opposed to our head (above the neck). Physical hunger presents with clear indications (think: hunger pangs, empty stomach, stomach rumbling), but women may not notice these signals because they have ignored them, are scared of them, don’t trust them, or are disconnected from their body.
Learning to navigate the difference between physical hunger and head hunger can take time and practice, but it can be a helpful step in addressing unwanted eating. Is this head hunger or physical hunger? When we allow ourselves to consider the question, we create space for curiosity and connection to ourselves — vital components to healing our relationship with food. We might not always have the answers, and we might still crave the food that our head hunger is demanding, but the increased awareness will propel us further on our journey toward change.
Shira Savit, MA, MHC, INHC is a mental health counselor and integrative nutritionist who specializes in emotional eating, binge eating, and somatic nutrition. Shira works both virtually and in person in Jerusalem.
Dr. Jennie Berkovich
As winter draws to a close and the snow melts away, families will often find themselves with sneezy, red-eyed, congested kids. Although virus season will often have reached its peak and start waning around spring time, allergy season is right behind it!
Seasonal allergies are common and can be seen in kids as young as two. Since it takes a while for the body to become sensitive to environmental triggers like dust and pollen, kids under two are less commonly diagnosed with seasonal allergies.
Symptoms of allergies include itchy, watery eyes, a persistent runny nose, sneezing, and coughing. Younger kids who aren’t able to blow their nose well may be constantly sniffling and clearing their throats. As symptoms persist, this may interfere with quality sleep, making it hard for the child to focus in school or home. As a result, children with chronic allergies may often appear tired or fatigued.
Some of the most common triggers for seasonal allergies are pollen, dust spores, and animal dander. Testing for seasonal allergies is usually not recommended since it’s almost impossible to avoid the common triggers. Testing can be helpful if the trigger is thought to be a pet, the diagnosis isn’t clear, or the child is not responding well to typical allergy medicine and treatment. Testing should be done by a pediatrician or a pediatric allergist. Over the counter and commercial tests are not recommended and have not been proven to be reliable or accurate.
There are many different safe and effective treatments for long-standing seasonal allergies — discuss treatment options with your child’s pediatrician. The typical treatment for seasonal allergies is an antihistamine coupled with a glucocorticoid nasal spray.
The biggest mistakes I often see families make is under-dosing the medication, or using a sedating antihistamine like diphenhydramine (Benadryl) instead of a less sedating one like cetirizine (Zyrtec). In addition, families often stop the medication when the child’s symptoms improve, resulting in a return of the symptoms.
Dr. Jennie Berkovich is a board-certified pediatrician in Chicago and serves as the Director of Education for the Jewish Orthodox Medical Association (JOWMA)
Reading Behind the Words
There are a million different ways to say I love you — “Put your seat belt on”; “Watch your step”; “Get some rest”; “Did you eat”? You just have to listen.
The concept of Love Languages have become de rigueur in relationship education and yet, this particular dialect, familiar to so many of us, has been largely ignored. I daresay some of us may even chafe at these expressions of concern and experience them as intrusive. If we can soften for a minute and look beyond our feeling of being controlled, we might be surprised to see how much affection and love lie behind these words.
Sara Eisemann, LMSW, ACSW, is a licensed therapist, Directed Dating coach and certified Core Mentor.
(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 836)
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