Hunger

on March 15, 2010

In January I started going to a dietitian.  I had wrestled with the idea for a few months and mostly assumed that I was aware of every diet in the world and that I really do know how to eat healthy —  I just have a problem doing it all the time.  Why waste good money to hear what I already know?

Having also been burned out on Weight Watchers, gaining weight back, and feeling rotten about my body, I have also been reading and experimenting with Intuitive Eating.  It’s the process of learning how to eat “normal” —  eating when you are hungry and then stopping when you are satisfied.  After reading the book and trying to apply some of the principles I knew I couldn’t go back to dieting again.  After all, years of dieting or being “on plan” has not gotten me or kept me at a healthy weight.   I know there are many good and healthy weight loss plans that work for a lot of people — but right now I’m not one of the success stories.  And doesn’t it make you wonder why we continue to hear news reports of America getting fatter and yet the diet industry is also growing bigger and bigger?  Anywho . . . I decided that if I was really truly going to become an “Intuitive Eater” I was going to need some help confronting my emotional eating issues as well as some of the physical things going on in my body that make it hard to lose weight.   Amazingly I found a registered dietitian that specializes in “Intuitive Eating”.

I was nervous at first.  My mind’s eye pictured an exceedingly thin, chipper, holier-than-thou person who eats nothing but organic whole wheat.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  Although slender, she is a completely normal non-judgmental – white-bread – eating – chocolate lover instead.   And I’ve discovered I still have things to learn – or relearn in a new way.  On the first meeting she said that I should never feel guilty about eating.  An idea that I wasn’t so sure about at the time.  But I’m beginning to believe it.

This process feels right to me but I won’t lie and says it’s easy.  If anything it’s been a little harder.  I’ve been tracking hunger, the food I eat, and the emotions I have.  It’s been eye-opening and a little painful to take a hard look at the behaviors I have used to cover up feelings.  It’s not just “stress eating” it’s also looking at other emotions such as boredom, anxiety about new situations, and loneliness.   I’ve also been learning how to recognize hunger and separate physical hunger from emotional hunger, and then honor it.  This has been harder than I thought it would be.

Hunger is your body’s signal that you need fuel.  But it’s something that I think society has demonized. – We’ve turned hunger into something that should be shunned until you finally give in.  Eating something delicious, especially if you are overweight, is something done in the dark back corners of a restaurant where no one can see you but your fellow consumers of delectables.  It’s your secret that you may confess to your friends later on that you did something “bad”.  I think we set ourselves up to overeat because we are so ashamed of our hunger in the first place.

What if we applied the same logic to other body signals?  For instance if you have to pee would you say to yourself “I really have to go, but I can be strong and if I can go another 2 hours without peeing, then I will let myself pee a little bit at 6:00 tonight”?  It’s ridiculous, and yet we have red furry monsters on television that represent our evil hunger that needs to be “dealt with” and special drinks and pills to trick our hunger.  We have totally messed up our minds and bodies.

I know it’s radical – but I’m working really hard at eating when I’m hungry – and honoring it — really honoring it.  So simple!  But undoing years of mental games is also so very hard.

Part of honoring hunger is also stopping when you are satisfied.  For me it’s also learning that when it’s  my heart that’s hungry food won’t ever satisfy it.

This road is not a quick trip to weight loss.  But I think for me anyway it’s the only road to healing my body, mind, and spirit.

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One response to “Hunger

  1. Laurel says:

    you already know how I feel about this post.
    you = one smart cookie.

    thanks for sharing…not just this…but the “little” journey we are on together.

    You are a gift to me.
    xoxo

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