This Month: Satisfying Mouth Hunger
Mouth hunger is satisfied by sensation. The mouth is a sensation junkie, an organ of pure desire. We were born with a mouth that desired food. Without it we would have died. The mouth desires variety, variety in flavor and texture. If we are not aware of what is happening in the mouth, the mouth feels chronically deprived and convinces the hand to keep feeding it more.
The mouth is easily bored. It has difficulty staying present with sensations as we continue to chew, as the intensity of flavor begins to fade, and the texture turns to mushy. When the mouth is bored, it asks for another bite. If we keep shoveling in bite and bite, and ignore the signals of “full” coming from the stomach, we will take more food than our body needs.
If our mouth becomes accustomed to always being stimulated, it won’t be happy being empty. We will begin to snack continually, putting food and drink into the mouth during the entire time we are awake. When we eat mindlessly, we pay attention, perhaps to the first few chews of the first bite. We shove another forkful in before we’ve even swallowed the first. We look down and are surprised to find that the food has disappeared while we weren’t even “looking.”
When we eat mindfully, we are paying attention to the constant changes in our mouth that make up variety. Even when the food is simple, such as oatmeal and milk or a few potato chips in a bowl, when the guests of honor arrive, Awareness and Curiosity, the dullest event becomes a very interesting party.
Satisfying Mouth Hunger Experiments:
Feeding Mouth Hunger
Explore the role of texture in feeding mouth hunger. Try eating the same food pureed or whole. For example, you could eat and compare a half cup of unsweetened applesauce with a whole raw apple. Both have the same calories. Which satisfies more?
Try eating a potato chip plain and a second one dipped in water. Which satisfies more?
Chewing and Satisfaction
Chewing can also be an important part of satisfying mouth hunger. Begin by rating mouth hunger on a scale of zero (not hungry at all) to ten (famished). Then eat a few bites of food, chewing each bite at least fifteen or twenty times. If you do not usually chew your food well, you will need to give yourself some extra time. Now rate hunger again. What do you find?
Bay, Jan C. Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship with Food. Boston: Shambhala, 2009. Print.
Do you want to read more about Mouth Hungers? Visit Becoming more aware of Mouth Hunger