Mental hunger is legitimate hunger. If I'm thinking about food, and want food, and I'm wondering if I should have food, and food, food, food, food, it's because I NEED it, not because I'm crazy or mistaken. Once I'm adequately fed, those thoughts go completely away.
For a long time, I tried to wait until I was stomach growling hungry to eat, but I now realize that thinking about food is a sign of hunger. It's the first sign you get. If you're not hungry, you're not thinking about it. Like peeing. LOL You don't think about it unless you have to go. Then it's all you can think about.
As far as continuing to eat out of habit, or not wanting to stop because it's so good, what I've found the most helpful is knowing I can always have more. I'll stop eating for now, but if I'm still thinking about food in 20 minutes, I'll have some more until I'm satisfied. The fascinating thing is that once I've had enough, I don't want anymore. Stopping eating is no problem at all. When I thought this was such a huge issue, it was because I was hungry. Go figure.
I'm so happy I scrolled down to find some of your nuggets of wisdom. I know I've talked a lot about mental hunger in my journal before and wondering if "thinking about food" means I'm legitimately hungry or just thinking about food because it smells good, it's sitting out, etc.
I started Rehabilitate, Rewire, and Recover (the Tabitha Farrar book) yesterday and although I'm not very far into it yet, I'm excited to read more. I'm really hoping to rewire my brain on thoughts such as, "I can have more later," because right now I'm definitely stuck in the "have to have it all now," mentality. I know I sound like a broken record, but it definitely takes me a lot of M&Ms to feel satisfied. I do eventually find a stopping point, but it's quite a few handfuls later! I'd love to eventually get to the place where I can eat a handful and think, "Ok there will be more of these later, I don't need to eat them all now." I know there's still a lot of fear circumventing my thoughts though. There's fear around the notion that if I start to eat I can't stop and I usually fulfill that prophecy.