Heart Hungry

What Is Your Heart Hungry For?

January 25, 2021

What is your heart hungry for?” I ask my clients who have been trying to lose weight for many years, sometimes even decades. This is a crucial question if we want to establish a healthy and relaxed relationship with food and our bodies.

When food has taken on the role of comforter, soother, protector, or lover, diets will never be successful. It is crucial to understand the emotional reasons and the core needs that drive a person to the refrigerator late at night.

Eating instead of feeling is a powerful ritual and deserves understanding and compassion.

Behavior always makes sense, so in many cases, the young child learned: “When I eat, I am okay. When I eat, I feel safe.” This behavior can carry on for many years and sometimes even a lifetime.

When someone eats because he or she feels lonely, it merits self-compassion. In my work, my clients and I co-create new healthy life-affirming rituals. Diets don’t work long-term. Period. They are often perceived as punitive and further disconnect a person from their true needs. “What is your heart hungry for?” will lead the way to greater insight and new ways of loving yourself.

When we get encouraged to gently explore which passions, hopes, and desires have been put on the back burner it makes it easier to invite them back in, so to speak.

What Is Your Heart Hungry For?

If your heart desires more creativity, play, and joy, then that’s the route to follow. Our intuition already knows, the inner wisdom already resides within us. Follow your heart… it knows the way. It has the answers you are looking for.

Sometimes an emotional childhood wound needs to be examined and healed, lovingly, and patiently. Becoming your own best friend and learning how to “mother” and nurture yourself will lead the way out of emotional eating.

I need a treat.” really means “I need a break. I need a time out.” Give yourself the oxygen first. You can’t give from an empty cup. Be good to your heart. Listen to it. Treat yourself as if you were soothing and comforting a small precious child.

Good self-care is not just chocolate cake and soft baths; it’s creating a life you don’t need to regularly escape from. It means saying “no” more often and saying “yes” to yourself: your needs, your truth, to stand your ground and to be YOU, unapologetically.

Mindful Eating promotes mindful self-compassion and self-empathy. It is my belief that a non-diet approach to overeating and obesity is the only long-term way for a client to achieve peace with food and their body.

Throughout the therapeutic process, my clients are encouraged to explore the triggers that lead to emotional eating. They develop the tools, strategies, and rituals for establishing a healthy relationship with food.

The goal is to gain an understanding of how to free themselves from the “eating instead of feeling” cycle and to transform the mind (and body) along the way. Food is a wonderful thing, it can and should be nourishing and pleasurable. When it takes on the role of mood regulator, explore other ways of giving to yourself with gentle curiosity and loving-kindness.

My clients learn to be in tune with their bodies and differentiate physical from emotional hunger. The therapeutic process is based on crafting and developing healthy rituals, i.e. taking a walk, talking to friends, having a cup of soothing tea, writing in a journal, and understand the true need for comfort or relief. “I need a treat!” means: “I need a break.” “I need comfort.

Contrary to the seductive promise of fast weight loss, this kind of deeper work takes a minimum of six months to a year. The “heart” of therapy becomes re-mothering, strengthening the Self, and embracing the small inner child that needs emotional comfort.

In moments of emotional distress, clients can use the following practice developed by Dr. Kristin Neff. This practice can be used at any time of day or night and will help a client evoke self-compassion instead of reaching for food.

Self-Compassion Break

After placing both hands on your heart, breathe deeply in and out and speak the following words out loud or silently, in a warm and caring tone:

  • This is a moment of suffering.
  • Suffering is a part of life.
  • May I be kind to myself.
  • May I give myself the compassion that I need.

You CAN be at peace with food and your body. Build regular periods of restoration, relaxation, and meditation into your day. Practice a “mindful pause”… just for a few minutes and allow yourself to connect with your inner world and shift from your head space into your heart space. You are worth it!

Heart Hungry


Dr. Petra Beumer received her masters degree in psychology at the university of Hamburg /Germany. With a Master's Degree in Psychology, Petra Beumer founded the Mindful Eating Institute in 2017. The comprehensive treatment program provides customized strategies, which produce long-term weight management results while emphasizing to clients to be at peace with food and their body, and to practice good emotional self-care.