Think of the brain as a survival machine and think of hunger as a survival enhancing emotion. There are six hardwired emotions; sadness, fear, joy, surprise, and disgust. Each of these emotions have survival value in its own way, just like any of these emotions, hunger can be attached to them and all of the emotions have great value. Each of these, needs to be accepted as part of us. We have two hemispheres of our brain, the left and the right hemisphere. This is significant because the left hemisphere is associated with ‘approach’ while the right hemisphere is associated with ‘avoidance’. Approach, is most sensible when hungry. The victory of attaining food in ‘approach’ may produce feelings of pleasure and as such it is hard for those who derive pleasure from the ‘approach’ and therefore certain victory, is to have the ability to give it up.
Hunger is defensive and protective. Death is the ultimate threat. We are social animals and with being social, there are all sorts of possible threats, such as the danger of being shamed, the threat of rejection, the threat that personal power is being eroded. The goal is to be able to improve discriminatory skills, to be able to manage false emergency and maintain control over feelings, in managing eating.
Safety is the best hunger inhibitor. Creating a safer external environment creates the ability to be responsive and understanding of the day to day pressures of living. As well, creating a safe interior space is based on developing the capacity for self soothing, creating a sense of personal competence, feeling loved and lovable, learning to take in comfort when legitimately offered (all not based in high sugar, high fat food), helps you feel safer.
Hunger is normally turned on subconsciously, but needs to be turned off consciously. The non conscious emotional centres of the brain are activated before we have full cognitive awareness, that means we react almost instantaneously to yummy smells and bad tastes. Conscious awareness and the ability to begin inhibiting hunger is about anticipating and in so doing, avoiding potentially harmful situations.
Changing hunger involves changing lives. A good question to ask is ‘if you quit getting hungry so often, how do you think your life will change?’ This means that in changing your hunger you are going to experience a system wide change, in which life will really improve through hunger management.
People with hungry brains distort. The brain can go into overtime and can become increasingly biased, filtering information. The brain has a tendency to attend to the novel and unexpected, disregarding the normal routine of information. The result is, that the hungry brain disregards the very information that tells us that we are safe now and we can put down our knives and forks. Our brain bias is to consistently pull out negative aspects of our interactions and remembering situations far worse than they really were. The negative mind set becomes self fulfilling, with the chronically hungry person living in negative patterns that becomes deeply ingrained.
You can change your brain. You can take control of your own change process and you can create lasting brain change. You are the architect of your own mind.
People with hungry brains are continually training themselves to become more hungry. The more you think about food, the more you are training your brain to be hungry, and every time you indulge in thoughts of food and hunger you are reinforcing your hungry neural network, and if you keep doing that your neural network will continue to become faster, stronger, and more controlling. Brains are always changing, in this case either toward or away from chronic hunger.
Positive interactive circuits must be developed to replace negative ones. It is not enough of just setting a goal of becoming less hungry. It is important to consider with what you are going to replace your hunger, the idea is to reduce the strengths of your hunger circuitry and increase the strengths of other circuits. You are free to choose what direction to travel, like choosing optimism over pessimism, choosing praise over criticism. Learn how to redirect yourself to other things you enjoy.
Increase empathy. At a primitive level we have neural neurones which register the internal emotions of another person. These neurones fire as if the other person we are in relationship with mirrors us, saying that we are ok. These mirror neurones mirror that same emotion we are experiencing as the same; for instance, reaching for food. Therefore, the company you keep is very important for your health and wellbeing. If the people you are with are reaching for food when they are feeling stressed etc. then you will too!