One of the first things in learning to change a behavior is to bring into conscious awareness why you do the thing you are attempting to stop doing. Losing weight is a theme common to many who have enough in their lives that their own starvation is not something that concerns them. According to Inside Out Empowerment, we know that all behavior is purposeful. We never do anything for no reason. Everything is done in our best attempt to get something we want.

Let’s take a look at eating and list some possible things you are trying to get by eating when you aren’t hungry. We will look within the context of the five basic human needs.

Survival Needs:

* Hunger: the only good reason to eat is that you are hungry and need to refuel your body.
* Prevent Hunger: I have a friend whose mother taught him eating is what you do so you don’t get hungry. Can you imagine what happens when we start eating to prevent hunger?
* Self-Soothing: sometimes you may eat to comfort yourself. Some food is called “comfort food” for a reason. It takes us back to a time when things were simpler and everything felt safe.
* It’s Free: Do you ever eat because someone else is picking up the check and you look at it as saving money?

Love & Belonging Needs:

* Companionship: Sometimes you eat to spend time with your friends. You know, everyone is going out to eat and you don’t want to be left out.
* Manners: Sometimes you might eat because you have been told it is rude not to.

Power Needs:

* Gain Weight: Sometimes our poor eating habits start because we want to gain weight to improve our body image. I remember when I was a kid and I looked down at my body, I didn't like my knobby knees and made a conscious attempt to eat to make my legs bigger. Wow, what I wouldn’t give for those knobby knees now!
* See and be Seen: Sometimes we go out to social events to see and be seen. Food is almost always a part of these events.

Freedom Needs:

* Freedom from Unpleasant Emotions: This is a big reason many eat. It’s often called emotional eating. We eat to reduce stress, soothe unhappiness, chomp through anger, stave off loneliness, and alleviate boredom. Eating was never designed to do these things but once we make that association, we are more likely to continue using eating to help ourselves feel better.
* Because I Can: At times we eat as if throwing caution to the wind. Oh, what the heck, I can work out longer on the treadmill. Or it may even be a situation where you just want to prove you can eat something not so good for you but it sure tastes good at the time.

Fun Needs:

Fun: Let’s face it. Sometimes food can be just plain fun. If we combine it with friends, family, desserts, fancy dishes, a love of cooking/baking, then sometimes we eat just for the pure enjoyment of it.

This is certainly not meant to be an exhaustive list but simply a start to triggering your thinking about what you are trying to get when you eat when you are not hungry. If you recognize yourself in any of these, then it’s time look at your motivation for eating in the light of day. Ask yourself the following:

1. If I am trying to get ________________________ by eating, how is that working for me?
2. What else could I do that might be more effective and more responsible?
3. What’s one thing I can implement every day this week that will make a positive change in this area?

If you would like to learn more check out my Weight Loss from the Inside Out home study course.

Author's Bio: 

Kim Olver is a life and relationship coach. Her mission is to help people get along better with the important people in their lives, including themselves. She teaches people how to live from the inside out by empowering them to focus on the things they can change. She in an internationally recognized speaker, having worked in Australia, Europe and Africa, as well as all over the United States and Canada. She is the creator of the new, revolutionary process called, Inside Out Empowerment based on Dr. William Glasser's Choice Theory. She is a public speaker and provides workshops in the areas of relationships, parenting, and a variety of self-growth topics. She is the author of Leveraging Diversity at Work and the forthcoming book, Secrets of Successful Relationships. She co-authored a book with Ken Blanchard, Les Brown, Mark Victor Hansen and Byron Katie, entitled 101 Great Ways to Improve Your Life. She works with individuals, couples, parents, social service agencies, schools, corporations and the military--anyone who will benefit from gaining more effective control over their lives. She has consulted on relationships, parenting, self-development, training, leadership development, diversity, treatment programs and management styles.