Do you ever end a meal with a full belly yet your mouth is still hankering for something more?
This is called "mouth hunger," and it happens for many reasons from nutritional to emotional. Let's explore three of them:
1. Lack of Presence
When you eat breakfast while driving, inhale your lunch while working, and scarf down dinner while watching TV, you gyp your brain and body of the complete eating experience—that is, the nuances of your food's taste, texture, aroma and appearance.
Your lack of presence leaves you full yet unfulfilled, so your mouth demands more.
2. Macronutrient Imbalance
If your meal doesn't provide a good balance of macronutrients—protein, fats and carbs—your mouth hunger may be a yearning for a particular nutrient.
I used to crave almond butter after finishing breakfast, which I discovered was my body's way of telling me it needed more protein in my morning meal.
3. Low-Pleasure Foods
Low-pleasure foods can show up on your plate in many ways. It may be due to a recipe not turning out quite right, a diet plan that doesn't satisfy your taste buds, or a meal made with poor quality ingredients.
When your meal doesn't provide pleasure, your mouth will seek satisfaction from more food.
Hit Pause, Get Curious
The next time your belly is full but your mouth is still hungry, instead of hunting for something else to eat, hit pause and get curious. Reflect on what may have been missing from your meal.
Do you need to slow down and ditch mealtime distractions (e.g., computer, phone, TV, magazines, car, etc.)?
Do you need to create more balanced meals or pitch your restrictive diet?
Perhaps you need to swap your takeout food for homemade fare?
Respond with curiosity and compassion, not judgment or guilt. Engage fully with the experience and let it expand and deepen your relationship with food and your body.