"What is confusing me so much is that I think it's not normal to eat when not hungry, so therefore I shouldn't do it and it’s just a habit in my brain. I feel conflicted between Tabitha's approach to mental hunger, and the idea that my brain can send me very regular prompts to eat even when I am definitely not hungry, and well past the need to nutritionally restore."
My own solution to this riddle was realizing that it's perfectly normal to eat when not hungry. Normal eaters do it ALL the time. What's not normal is worrying about it obsessively. If I eat when I'm not physically hungry or keep eating when I am getting full, not a damn thing happens. Maybe it's longer before I'm hungry again. Maybe I'm less hungry three days from now. Maybe it's just a hungry week and I'm eating more for days. In any case, my body always balances out its needs over time if I just chill. Usually, if I'm thinking about or want food, there is a valid reason. I just don't know what it is. Now, I'm willing to go with it and eat anyway. That works. Second-guessing and denying myself only ever strengthened restrict-o-brain and the fallout that comes with it.
The hilarious thing is that eating cookies because they're there and not worrying about it, or eating more after dinner and not worrying about it, I'm healthier and happier than when I was VERY worried about it and taking all kinds of special measures to prevent such occurrences. I'm sure in that heightened "just enough" or "not allowed" headspace, I was throwing off all kinds of scarcity, famine, emergency signals to my brain, which then increased my urges to eat, and probably increased the likelihood of it being stored as fat, you know, as a safety precaution. It seems that blatant indifference to doing any of this "right" is working better than anything my diet mind could come up with.
“I have this belief in my head, based on past experiences that says 'when you eat when you're not hungry you just end up fat'. But as you said above, a key piece of that I'm missing is the fact that whenever I was doing non hungry eating/snacking I was judging it, and feeling very anxious which was probably throwing off those emergency signals and therefore increased the chance of it being stored as fat. Totally self fulfilling.”
Yes! In reality, snacking and non-hungry eating (with no judgment) = less hunger and less interest in food going forward. But guilt trip or shame yourself about it and you'll dramaticallyincrease your interest in food. You may even eat in a rebellious or "forbidden" way as a result of the restrictive thoughts, and by restrictive thoughts, I mean, "I'm doing it wrong. I shouldn't want more. I've had plenty. It's a trick. I can't be trusted." That line of thinking is poison.