Feeling hungry while trying to lose weight? Just eat. That seems to be the common answer. I bet this is everyone’s first thought when hunger strikes. The goals that you have might contradict that initial instinctual urge to eat. I’ve been there so I have a pretty good idea how that feels. Let me share a part of my experience with you. It might help shed some light on your habits and help you control excessive hunger.
Hungry all the time
Yup, that was me not that long ago. Actually, a few years back before I reached a decent weight. My journey and body taught me so much about food, nutrition, hunger, feelings, thoughts. As I dive deeper into my own experiences, I begin to see answers lighting up.
For me, hunger can be real and it can be illusory.
This is easy to spot. Real hunger starts to emerge slowly and it grows in intensity. Then, if we leave it be and don’t eat, it goes away in about 10-30 minutes. It comes back again as waves on the shore. You feel you’re getting weaker. Real hunger does not care much about the foods you eat. Good-looking food does not trigger real hunger. Instead, it asks for clean nutritious foods that you have available.
Unreal or misleading hunger is self-inflicted. Thoughts are the culprit. They trigger cravings and make our mouths water for food that is not always fresh or unprocessed. It remembers how good you felt, mainly emotionally, when you ate that particular food. Illusory hunger may appear when you (or someone) discuss food. The mere sight of a food, the smell, the memory of taste drive you to eat although your body is not actually hungry. The mind has managed to trick the brain to send signals to your stomach and produce hunger hormones. It goes away for a while but it always asks for more and it’s never satisfied.
Thoughts of Hunger
Talking about food might infuse your mind with the desire to eat. This is true for a lot of people. Have you met people who prefer not to talk about food as they are hungry or might suddenly become hungry?
How about feeling hungry even if you don’t think about food? Whenever I would start a new fad diet, I felt like I was missing out on all this food. I used to think that losing weight meant not enjoying life. I thought weight loss would come only if I starved myself.
My goal was to find the perfect fad diet. I wanted to experience the high that came with starting a diet. Then, slowly, to abandon it at the slightest touch of hunger. So I could start another. And another. Out of all the fad diets I’ve tried, I finished one only. One. And I’ve tried many.
Procrastination and boredom
Once I got passed the fad dieting phase, I became hungry all the time. My body was not properly nourished. It was asking for real food. The next step was to increase physical exercise. Still hungry.
Then, hunger started to show up whenever I had something to do. I knew I could get it done fast. Instead of getting things done earlier and enjoy the spare time, I would start feeling hungry. I procrastinated with food. Once in a while, I would eat whatever while being alone. Whenever I was feeling something and did not know how to deal with it, I would immediately find myself thrown into the illusion of hunger.
Hungry for Life
Days went by. Months. Years. Despair set in. I was starving myself on and off but couldn’t reach a satisfying weight. I was not losing weight. Since I was not sticking to a plan, results could not show up. It sure felt like I was on a continuous fad diet but it was just an illusion.
This illusion soon became a different type of hunger. As I started to wake up, I began to feel hungry for life. I had been a captive of fad dieting for such a long time. I wanted out. Every part of me wanted to live. There was no specific moment in which my awakening took place. It just happened with time.
Most human beings are waiting for THE SLAP OF EXISTENCE. Only then will they truly wake up. Others are awake and asking for THE SLAP just for the fun of it.
The solution to hunger came silently. I am so glad I’ve been there to listen.
With my awakening came a thirst to get in touch with this wonderful body I am in. So I did something that came so naturally to me. I started to pay attention to how it felt. Instead of focusing on my emotions, I went straight to the source. We sometimes think that an emotional problem has its roots in the spiritual realm. What we don’t understand is that in order to get to the spiritual realm, we must first travel the physical plane. We must know it by heart.
I showed interest in what my body felt after eating. It was actually talking to me. I used to ignore it day in and day out. But now, I was ready to listen. The food I was eating was influencing everything: energy, emotions, desires, skin, mood. With that knowledge, I began to match the foods I ate with those feelings. I did not eat to feed my feelings. I would watch how a particular food was serving my body. As I listened to my body more, I came up with the proper fuel for it. And hunger was gone. The excess weight started to come off.
As we reach our goals, our actions become habits. Sometimes we forget how we got those habits.
Things and events are like that. They have a way of fading in the background and deliver useless timelines.
I cannot say the exact moments that became life & nutrition lessons. I know what the lessons are. Though, if you ask me how long it took me to get rid of hunger and embrace intuitive eating, I cannot say. For you, it might be days, weeks, months, years. It depends on how willing you are to actually listen.
Hunger comes and goes. It never lingers. You either do something about it or you don’t. Hunger only lasts for a few minutes. If you’re doing something meaningful to you, it might not even show up at all.
Real hunger is not picky. Illusory hunger is like a character the mind creates to have a story to tell. But your true story is more exciting than any food that satisfies you for a moment.
And I can’t help but think about people who do experience true hunger all the time. No food available, scarcity, and lack. I would love to get to them and help. I understand now how caught up I was in this illusion. That I forgot to think about everybody else. Not anymore.
Final Words on Hunger
Find a passion. Find something you love doing. Nourish your mind and it will no longer be looking for meaningless adventures. Your thoughts will no longer focus on food, on constantly snacking, on being hungry. The mind is hungry too. I don’t believe it’s hungry for more thoughts. It might feel like it tries to sabotage us.
What if the mind only wants to get direction, purpose, and a strong individual to hold it together?
Are you that individual?