Honoring Your Hunger Cues: Coffee, The Final Frontier

January 28, 2011

So this morning, as I was sitting in class painfully early, I was sort of idly bringing my 21 oz. coffee cup to my lips when I realized that my stomach was turning over, my heart was beating wildly out of my chest, and I was feeling a little repulsed by the idea of taking one more sip of coffee.  And in that second I was floored, because as someone who continues to work very hard on learning to eat intuitively, honor my hunger cues, and deconstruct my tendency towards emotional eating, here I was habitually pouring coffee down my throat – coffee that my body was actively rejecting and was having a negative impact on me.

It’s strange because all of the sudden I found myself encountering a whole new concept – the realm of the habitually consumed. This realm is home to the things that you ingest or do on a daily basis, and have become fused with your identity. As in, Hi I’m Marzipan and I’m not fully awake in the morning without at least three cups of coffee. This is an example wherein my understanding of myself is fused with my consumption of coffee.  Now, this identity does not take variation into account or days when I’ve had more or less sleep or when I’m sick or any of that – because in my heart I am a coffee drinker.

It seems that this happens whenever people feel passionately about their chosen routines – or if someone identifies with a group strongly. Likely, this happens with Healthy Living Bloggers, for whom healthy eating is a principle of group membership. This might interfere with their craving for something like an ice cream sundae or a cheeseburger or anything that is arguably not very healthy for you. It is interesting then how you understand the complication between what you do and what your body really wants.

If someone is a smoker, and they are accustomed to smoking a cigarette every couple of hours or so, it stands to reason that addiction aside, this action is habitual in nature. Are you stepping outside to smoke because you are having a nicotine craving or are you stepping out because it’s 3 PM and you ALWAYS smoke at 3 PM on your break from work? Are you drinking your afternoon cup of coffee because you are feeling especially tired and you need a pick-me-up, or are you imbibing out of sheer habit?

Even for people who have fought long and hard to reign in their emotional eating, bringing themselves back to the basics, and regaining trust in their body’s wants/needs – this gray zone of habitual consumption so frequently remains unaddressed. I would definitely think twice about mindlessly consuming an ice cream sundae if I wasn’t really hungry, but I would not think twice about refilling my to go mug and downing many ounces of a caffeinated beverage.  And it seems that is worth paying attention to.

Has this ever happened to you? Is there anything in your life that you mindlessly consume and seems exempt from efforts for moderation? Do you have any habits that you feel are 100% tied into your understanding of your self?