"Tummy Hunger" vs. "Mouth Hunger"
"Intuitive eating is often misunderstood as "eat whatever you want, when you want." As a parent, this interpretation of intuitive eating would sound like a terrible idea! Intuitive eating isn't about eating any and all food, rather it is about allowing our body to be the interpreter of what feels good and trusting our body to manage the imperfections in your eating patterns," Brown told POPSUGAR. Giving kids non-judgmental language around their body's experience of food is key in helping them develop a positive relationship with their body and with eating.
To help kids understand those eating patterns parents and caregivers can use the phrases "mouth hunger" and "tummy hunger" to help kids explore the different ways in which our bodies experience food without using external cues and negative messageing. Discussing "mouth hunger," the sensation of craving something based on taste and sensation alone, versus "tummy hunger," eating something based on a deep sense of feeling satiated and satisfied, can help children start to tune in to their internal experience of food. Asking kids to explore what their mouth is hungry for allows them to recognise that a part of their body is enjoying something about the food. Mouth hunger is about the immediately satisfying experience of eating and all the sensations that go along with it: crunchy, chewy, sweet — the mouth likes it all! In fact, it can even help to explain to kids that "mouth hunger" is a little bossy and sometimes it doesn't listen to "tummy hunger."
Engageing kids in a discussion of which foods satisfy their "tummy hunger" can help empower kids to talk about foods which help build muscles, promote growth, and deeply satisfy them. "Tummy hunger" is recognising which foods make your body feel uniquely healthy and satiated. It's not only powerful to help kids recognise what their "tummy hunger" actually wants and needs, but it's also a great place to talk about diversity and differences in bodies. For example, some bodies feel great eating a lot of wheat. Other bodies don't. Each body is different, each tummy is different, it's your child's job to learn about what their "tummy hunger" craves and respect that information.