Trust your hunger

Hunger connects us to our most basic needs.
Hunger connects us to our most basic needs.

Hunger is the greatest spice. It helps your body use nutrients and calories from food to fuel and repair. It does all this while promoting pleasure. Beginning a meal with hunger also allows you to connect with satisfaction and fullness. It is tough to know when to stop eating when not starting with hunger.

“Just eat when you are hungry” sounds simple. 

But we know it is not easy because diets have taught us to distrust hunger.

Instead of an on/off switch, connected physical hunger manifests unique translations. There’s

snack hunger

meal hunger

panic hunger

delayed hunger

and voracious hunger.

(Could these be my Forest Gump 2 lines?)

Even more interesting, you experience these nuances in your own way. Different hunger signals whether your body wants to sit down to a full course warm meal or just have a nibble. It is also letting you know whether your body needs carbs, proteins, fats, and any combination of these. Hunger can even communicate how quickly to eat.

Most diets serve to disconnect you from hunger. You were told to deny hunger or fear it. Do you remember years ago an unnamed diet company depicted hunger as a furry red sly monster? They were teaching body mistrust! Hunger was set up as maneuverable enemy. Silly really because hunger is just a biological process communicating a physiological need. It would be like tricking yourself to not need to pee. (You know that doesn’t work!) You can’t trick hunger. When you try to deprive yourself, the body finds ways to communicate the missed opportunity. You end up thinking, obsessing, and dreaming about food and often times bingeing.

A beautiful part of hunger: it doesn’t lie. When you experience physical hunger, your body needs food. Hunger speaks for primal needs, not frivolous wants. Don’t run from, meddle with, or try to trick hunger. It doesn’t go away only subsides for a bit. Manipulating hunger is the main reason a person experiences a binge. Every binge starts with not eating enough earlier in the day.

When this happens it isn’t the food’s fault. It is just your body trying to save you.

A bit more about hunger. As you begin this process you may only experience hunger as on or off. And even then it may be fuzzy. That’s ok. It takes time for all the subtleties to emerge and be known. Even more, it takes distancing yourself from dieting. The key is to keep looking for these subtle cues.

Over the next week, I encourage you to get reacquainted with your subtlety different hungers. Say hello to them instead of blocking them out. Notice where in your body you experience hungers (stomach, neck, sternum, belly button, etc) and what your mind notices (starting to think about food, stressed about food, etc.) The different hungers to start with include:

Snack Hunger

Meal Hunger

Panic Hunger

Or any other you notice

Hunger, in every shape and form, is as natural and necessary as breathing and sleeping. Embrace its connection to your wants and needs.