The Seven Hungers

Did you know you had so many hungers?  Jan Chozen Bays, MD,  presents us with the model of them in her book “Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food.” The seven hungers are eye hunger, nose hunger, mouth hunger, stomach hunger, mind hunger, cellular hunger, and heart hunger.

According to Dr. Bays, we need to satisfy all our hungers or we might fall prey to a lot of dissatisfied overeating.

To satisfy “eye hunger” we need to create beauty around the eating experience.  Ask yourself.  Which is more beautiful and satisfies more– food wrapped in fast food packaging or a nicely set table with flowers, candles, and table cloth. 

The fragrance of the food is important in satisfying “nose hunger.”  This one is pretty obvious.  You are undoubtedly familiar with how the body and mind get pulled toward food that smells delicious.

The way food feels in the mouth is how we satisfy “mouth hunger.”  For instance, sometimes I just have to have something crunchy.

“Cellular hunger” is very interesting.  The body is quite wise and actually craves the nutrients that it is missing.  However, most of us aren’t very tuned into our bodies to this extent.  As I have practiced mindfulness over the years, my ability to detect what my body does and doesn’t want has gradually improved over time.  Recently I craved bananas for days!  I guess my body needed potassium.

According to Dr. Bays, “mind hunger” has turned us into the world’s most anxious eaters.  We are always talking to ourselves about food.  To read more about that, go to my TastingMindfulness facebook page and read my latest post by Michelle May.   I think the best way to overcome “mind hunger” is to focus more on other activities that we enjoy.   The mind is hardly ever satisfied.

When it comes to “heart hunger” you can satisfy that in ways that include food or not.  When food is involved, you can engage your heart by giving thanks and being truly present for your food in a conscious way.  When food is not involved, you begin to notice and take care of your hunger for intimacy with others.  Food is not a skillful substitute for personal intimacy, yet we often turn for food to fulfill our need for closeness with others.  Cultivate your friendships instead.

Thinking about satisfying all of your hungers can enhance the satisfaction and nutritional benefits of a meal and improve the quality of your entire life.

I highly recommend the book by Dr. Bays if you’d like to know more.  She is a delightful writer and a clear teacher of meditation and mindful eating.