8 Steps to Food Freedom: Food Biology & Emotionality

Uncategorized Jan 27, 2019

This is step 4 on the path to finding food freedom! Food Biology and Emotionality is all about understanding your body’s natural biological cues like hunger, fullness and satisfaction and rebuilding the trust between your mind and body.

It’s about learning how to eat mindfully and rediscovering the pleasure and satisfaction in food. In this step, it’s important to also take a deeper look at your emotions around food and figure out what you’re REALLY seeking so that food is no longer something you have to control or feel out of control around.

Our need for nourishment and energy is vital to life and when we don’t get enough energy, our bodies go into starvation mode and compensate with intense biological and psychological mechanisms. It isn’t an issue of willpower, it’s actually our biological drive.

Basically, we need energy and energy comes from food. We can’t out think our biology. And why do we want to anyways? How cool is it that our bodies are literally built with all of these amazing mechanisms to take care of us?

Our bodies need to know that we will consistently and adequately nourish them. When we don’t establish this trust with our body, it will stay in alert mode, ready to counteract a self-imposed energy deficit.


In the beginning of your journey of making peace with food, it might be hard to really tune into your natural hunger signals. If you’re always hungry, it might be your body telling you it needs more adequate, consistent nourishment. If you’re hunger signals are non-existent, this might be because you’ve desensitized yourself through dieting and restriction. Either way, it’s okay and your hunger signals can and will normalize. Our hunger signals are here to take care of us so we should embrace them.

What does hunger feel like in your body? Are there any signs that help you notice when you’re starting to get hungry? See if you can start becoming gently aware of these signals.

Using a hunger scale can be a good place to start. You can use it as a checkpoint to help you gauge where you’re at. It’s ideal to eat when you’re around a 3-4 hunger level because that’s when your body and mind will have clarity around what foods your body is craving from a nutritional standpoint.


For the sake of completeness, I will talk briefly about fullness. However, fullness isn’t really an important concept to focus on. Being acutely aware of fullness can be tied up with diet culture and the food police.

Most of the time, feeling overly full usually results from restriction (even perceived restriction). You don’t eat enough or don’t let yourself have what you want and then you try to satiate yourself with more and end up feeling uncomfortable. This is really just our bodies way of protecting us from what it perceives as a famine. Once you’ve given up restriction, extreme fullness will naturally become a non-issue without even focusing on it.

Using a hunger scale can be a helpful way to check in with your fullness as well.


Food is meant to be nourishing AND pleasurable; not something to torture ourselves over. Learn to tune into what feels good and what doesn’t feel good in your body. Ask yourself, “If I could have anything in the world to eat right now, what would that be?”. When you release judgement and guilt and eat the foods that you really want, it’s much easier to feel satisfied.

To enhance your satisfaction from eating, see if you can engage your senses to notice these qualities of food:

  • Taste: is it sweet, salty, sour, bitter, pungent, etc?
  • Texture: how does the food feel in your mouth? Is it crunchy, smooth, chewy, creamy, etc?
  • Smell: does the food smell appealing to you? If it’s not, it likely won’t give you the satisfaction you need
  • Appearance: does the food look appealing? Does it look fresh? Do you like the colors? Is it exciting to look at?
  • Temperature: is it cold or hot? Do you like ice in your drinks? Does the temperature outside affect the temperature of food that sounds good to you?
  • Density: is the food light and airy or more dense and filling?

Food and feelings:

Food should be enjoyable but eating and restricting are not effective coping mechanisms for working through your feelings. It might provide temporary relief but you will likely end up with the same feelings you were trying to escape. Yes, sometimes it’s totally okay to eat to soothe emotions. This is a normal part of eating and being human; be gentle with yourself about how you use food to cope with your emotions. It’s when it becomes your only coping mechanism that it becomes problematic.

Becoming aware of coping mechanisms can give you information about something in your life that may need attention. Ask yourself “what do I really need in this moment?”, “what might I be avoiding that I need to deal with?”.

When you have the desire to eat when you’re not hungry or restrict, ask yourself:

  1. What am I feeling right now?
  2. How do I want to feel?
  3. What do I need?

The seek out what you need or do something that feels nurturing to you. Do you need to relax? Maybe get a massage or listen to calming music. Do you need to feel connected? Maybe call a friend or meet up with a friend for coffee. Are you tired? Maybe you take a nap.

Continue reading with the next step to food freedom: make peace with food!


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