Lonely Mouth by Maya Adam

As per the the video transcript of Maya Adam, MD on rebuilding our relationship with food.

Lecturer at Stanford University.


There are many different reasons why we eat throughout the day, and not all of them have to do with an actual need for food. If you've ever found yourself searching for something to eat, even though you're not really hungry at all, you are certainly not alone.



In Japanese, there's a word for this which translates into something like, lonely mouth. Food can be a great source of comfort in our lives, but when we find ourselves snacking mindlessly, in response to stress or boredom. When we find ourselves using food to procrastinate, instead of getting started on a task that needs to be done, that kind of eating tends to be less mindful than eating should be. Sometimes we can't even remember what we ate when we were simply feeding a lonely mouth. Not only do we end up eating more than we need, but it's also a missed opportunity, to truly appreciate something that should be really enjoyable. It's like getting a hug from someone you love and not even noticing.


Luckily, we all have patterns of behavior. If you can figure out when you tend to experience lonely mouth, and come up with some strategies for changing those behaviors, you can to change the patterns that don't bring you joy in your life. For example, I often find myself tempted to snack late in the evening after my work is done for the day. I recognized that pattern a while ago and I started brushing and flossing my teeth soon after dinner. While brushing, I try to think about some things that I'm grateful for, some things that are going well in my life right now. Most nights, that two minutes of practicing gratitude and the thought of having to clean my teeth all over again. That helps me to avoid the feeling of lonely mouth.


It doesn't always work, but when it does, I feel much better the next morning. Get to know your lonely mouth and come up with some strategies for coping with it. Try a simple breathing exercise or take a relaxing bath, maybe go for a short walk outside. It won't work every time, but you might notice the feeling of lonely mouth occurring less frequently. That leaves you're hungry mouth much more likely to mindfully enjoy each and every meal.


It is good to be aware of such behaviour and to make an attempt to work towards it. Do share it with friends and family and let us know how you liked this article in the comments.


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