If eating habits have become a challenge, the seminar series called ‘Craving Change’ might help! 

‘Craving Change’ is a series of workshops that delves into the habits and challenges of eating healthy, addressing topics such as emotional eating, or why we lose the battle to our cravings. These workshops are facilitated through Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) in 3 locations across Westman: Brandon, Neepawa and Dauphin.  Both in-person and virtual participation is offered. 

Health Promotion Coordinator for PMH, Sherill-Lee Hyra, shares a favorite ‘take-home’ strategy that many participants have gleaned from the workshop series: asking ourselves the check-in question, ‘What kind of hunger am I feeling?’” 

"In the program we take time to reflect on all the different reasons for eating,” she explains. “These are the things referred to as your eating triggers, and we can ask this question every time we eat something.” 

“In Craving Change, we refer to three different types of hunger: stomach hunger, mouth hunger and heart hunger.” 

Hyra says stomach hunger could be described as that physical hunger cue. “It’s been awhile since I last ate and its time to eat. You’re eating and fueling your body for the well-being of yourself.” 

Mouth hunger refers to the food cravings that we have for something sweet, or salty or crunchy, or we’re in the grocery store and the smell of freshly baked cookies catches our attention and we head for the baked-goods department.  "It’s that desire that you have that you want a certain taste or a certain texture at that moment,” she explains. 

The third type of hunger is emotional hunger, where due to the circumstances surrounding us or the internal struggles that we’re processing, we try to make ourselves feel better by eating ‘comfort foods’ such as a bag of chips, or a big bowl of ice-cream. “This is eating that we do because of our emotions, or because of our learned behaviors around food. It might be at the end of the day and I might go and grab a pick-me-up, and that could become a ritual for that individual.” 

“Every time we ask the question every time we eat, ‘Is this a stomach, mouth or heart hunger that I’m feeling right now?’ we become more self-aware of our own eating triggers, and that can be very powerful in itself,” she adds. 

“There is no right or wrong answer on how you would label your type of hunger,” notes Hyra. “But just having that awareness is powerful for change.” 

Asking that question before you eat every meal, or at every coffee break, is a good way to check in before reaching for that food item. “You could ask yourself, ‘Is this stomach, mouth or heart hunger?’ and it could be a bit of everything,” she adds. “You could be physically hungry or it could be that there are donuts sitting in the staff room and now all of a sudden you’re going ‘Mmmmm donuts! I’m hungry for donuts!’”  

“That’s a situational trigger, where if the donuts weren’t there, would you be eating right now?” she asks. 

“There are all kinds of nuggets like these in our workshops. The average individual makes between 200-300 decisions about food both subconsciously and consciously every day! Food is everywhere and you can only imagine that if you’re bombarded with food messages and you are struggling with eating behaviours, it can become quite complex and time-consuming to think about choices all around you all the time,” shares Hyra. 

“So, these workshops certainly give a lot of information that enlighten people on what is influencing those choices every day.”