We are bred to be vigilant, scanning for threats to our wellbeing. Our fight, flight, or freeze response is central to our survival as a species. When our energy stores start to dip, our bodies begin to get anxious, sensing the risk of hunger. Unfortunately, that anxious feeling we get when hunger approaches feels a lot like the uneasy feeling we get when we are tired, lost, or lonely.
That uneasy feeling generally is telling us that we are under attack and need to do something to rectify the situation. One of the cruel tricks for us though, is that eating sends a message we are safe and not vulnerable, even if the real reason we’re feeling on edge isn’t due to food hunger. By pausing to eat, we tell our internal systems that no predator is lurking on the horizon ready to pounce. We tell our internal systems that we are in a safe enough place to stop and get a bite versus fleeing the scene.
It’s our job to consume just enough calories regularly throughout the day so we don’t induce cycles of hunger anxiety. It’s also our job to feed those babes of ours regularly when they are hungry for food and give them a predictable environment for sleep and connection. We don’t have to use food to induce peace when it’s not what is needed.
I invite you to feed what’s hungry. Eat if you truly are hungry for food, but start paying attention if you’re eating when you’re hungry for sleep, attention, direction, or companionship. Sleep if you’re tired. Connect with a friend if you’re lonely.
(originally published in the Eastside Moms of Multiples monthly newsletter)