When you eat out of hunger, you tune in to yourself. When you eat in response to cravings, you tune in to the environment.

Try this: some time this week contrast and compare craving-driven eating and hunger-driven eating. On a scheduled craving-driven eating day, eat each and every time you have a craving. On a scheduled hunger-driven eating day, eat only if you are hungry.

Notice a process of social and environmental synchronization. When you eat in a craving-driven fashion, you eat each and every time the environment presents you with a powerful enough stimulus to elicit a craving in you. As a result, you become attuned to the environment, eating in sync, as if line-dancing with a crowd of strangers.  Everybody eats, and you eat.

Compare this with a different kind of synchronization, self-synchronization (synchronization with your self), when you eat in a hunger-driven manner. While you begin to feel progressively out of sync with the environment (everybody eats, but you don’t), you begin to appreciate a sense of your behavior becoming synchronized with your intentions. Notice what feels better to you.

Don’t get me wrong: I am not suggesting that you forever eat all by yourself. No. I am just pointing out the cost associated with social eating.

Social eating connects us to others and disconnects us from ourselves. That’s just the reality of it.  After all, while we can sync our watches, we can’t quite sync our hunger.  As a result, at least one person at the table will be eating out of sync with themselves. On some days it might feel more important for you to connect with others than with yourself. On those days, eating while not hungry (just because someone else has triggered you to crave) might be an acceptable price to pay for the psychological benefits of social company.  On other days, perhaps, not.

Knowing what you need more (to connect with yourself or with others) when you need it is part of balanced self-care.

Resources:

Mindful Eating Tracker: track your mindfuls (not just mouthfuls)