Breaking the habit of nighttime snacking Print

Discovering Andrea Holwegner as published in Calgary Herald Newspaperthe different types of hunger

  I lie in bed wide awake with a heavy heart and an overly full belly of food. I told myself I would not snack tonight but somehow after feeling frustrated and exhausted from my day I reached for food. First it was an apple, then a handful of crackers. Before I knew it a whole box of crackers are wolfed down along with a half a block of cheese and some cookies. I beat myself up and wonder how I can be so disgusting. I tell myself I don’t deserve to eat tomorrow. I am a failure.macaroni and cheese

This is the very common story of many of the clients we have seen over the years in our practice. To eat is simple, to navigate why we eat is a complex. For many of our clients, the evening is the most common time of the day to struggle with eating in a way that is not comfortable for them. Perhaps because of true physical hunger, food cravings, fatigue, habit, celebration or feelings of boredom or sadness.

Given the large number of our clients that struggle with their eating, all of the dietitians in our practice have training in Craving Change (a cognitive-behavioural intervention for problematic eating developed by psychologist Dr Colleen Cannon and dietitian Wendy Shah). While there are a wide range of tools, resources and activities we use to help our clients,one of the Craving Change concepts we use often is helping our clients understagingerbread cakend the three types of hunger.

Types of Hunger

Stomach Hunger

  • Physical necessity to eat if the body has gone a long time without food (when you have a noticeable drop in energy or the stomach rumbles).
  • Medically necessary eating (such managing blood sugars if taking insulin).

red appleMouth Hunger

  • Related to food cravings.
  • A desire to eat something specific based on your senses (taste, texture, aroma or appearance).

Heart Hunger

  • Emotional eating triggered by a wide range of feelings such as boredom, anxiety, anger, sadness, excitement and more.
  • Could also be related to learned behaviour or habits we have formed as a result of interacting with the world or by what we are taught (such as rules about what a diet book told us was the “right” food to eat or what our parents told us about not wasting food).

Dealing With Different Types of Hunger

Before attempting to address hunger in the evening, take time to simply observe and label your hunger by the three categories. With this awareness, the next step is to explore how to address the hunger. Different types of hunger have different needs.

Satisfying Stomach Hunger

  • It is very difficult to manage mouth hunger or heart hunger if you first don’t take care of stomach hunger to make sure you are adequately nourished.
  • Honour and respect your body’s physical need for food by choosing not to skip meals.
  • Choose not to go on a diet and deprive yourself of enough calories.
  • Eat breakfast every day as one of the most important ways to fix the evening is to fix the start of the day (after all, everything is connected).
  • Eat every three to five hours throughout the day to manage your energy and prevent drops in your blood sugar that will trigger overeating.
  • Choose not to restrict adequate carbs, protein or fat.
  • Work with a registered dietitian to help you understand the science of food and your body’s requirements.

Managing Mouth Hunger

  • If stomach hunger has been addressed but you are still craving a specific food, take time to explore exactly what it is you are craving.
  • Stop what I like to call “chewing around a craving” which is the act of sampling many healthy items from your kitchen to try and satisfy a particular craving for a so-called “forbidden food.”
  • Take time to figure out specifically what you are craving. Is it a particular food? Is it something sweet, savoury, creamy, crunchy, warm or cold?
  • Since most of us eat packages, not portions, provide yourself with a reasonable end point (buy small individual sized packages or portion out hard to manage foods).
  • Remember that healthy eating can and should include soulful foods chosen for enjoyment, not nutrition.

Help for Heart Hunger

  • Everyone eats for emotional reasons sometimes. It is very normal to eat when you are sad, mad, happy or stressed.
  • If you are struggling regularly with stuffing uncomfortable emotions with food seek help by a registered Psychologist that specialises in emotional eating that can help.
  • Begin by taking a long time to explore these three important questions What is eating me? What in my life am I hungry for that has not come my way yet? How can I comfort, soothe and nurture myself without food?

Article originally appeared in the Calgary Herald Newspaper

Are you struggling with snack cravings, or need help discovering and managing the different types of hunger? Contact us about a nutritional counselling program that can help.

About Andrea Holwegner

CEO, Registered Dietitian, Counseling Practice Director & Professional Speaker

Andrea the «Chocoholic Nutritionist» is founder and CEO of Health Stand Nutrition Consulting Inc. since 2000. She is an online nutrition course creator, professional speaker and regular guest in the media. Andrea is the recipient of an award by the Dietitians of Canada: The Speaking of Food & Healthy Living Award for Excellence in Consumer Education....Read more

Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. Andrea and her team really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Andrea is an excellent teacher and motivator. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This