Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Plant-strong Success Tip #7: Make Friends with Hunger

Make Friends with Your Hunger-It's not the end of the world

What goes on in your head when you start to feel hungry? Do you tell yourself that you had better get something to eat real soon or you are (a) going to pass out, (b) going to get a headache, (c) not going to be able to concentrate, (d) going to get a stomach ache and/or (e) going to die (I am not kidding)?

If thoughts like this go through your mind the minute hunger strikes, you are not alone. Talk to folks who struggle with their weight and you will likely find that there is a pretty intense fear when it comes to hunger. Many people think that they are hypoglycemic. How do I know this? Because whenever I got hungry, I used to think that something really bad was going to happen to me. And eating in between meals was a major source of extra calories in my diet. And that was a major contributor to my extra weight.

What is the reality? It only took a few times of actually experimenting with letting myself go hungry that I found out that none of the above mentioned effects of being hungry actually happened to me. I discovered this experiment when working through the book The Beck Diet Solution by Dr. Judith Beck. I would bet good money on it that if you just let yourself feel hungry and waited until the next appropriate time to eat (ie mealtime) that you would be just fine too.

Now what do I do when my stomach growls? I look at my watch. If it's not mealtime I say to myself, "Wow, Wendy, look how your stomach is growling. Isn't that great? It means that your body is actually out of digestion mode and into detoxification. It's no big deal, you are going to be having lunch/dinner in an hour." Go ahead, ask one of your thin friends what goes on in their head when their stomach sends them signals that they are hungry. I can tell you that they are not thinking that it is the end of the world!  

Dr. Fuhrman does a great job at explaining the roll of hunger in weight loss and healthy weight maintenance. Hunger is healthy. It's good. It's worth your time to read his explanation here. Learning to get comfortable with hunger, downright being "friends" with your hunger, is not optional if you are striving to lose weight and keep it off over the long haul.


What goes on in your head when you feel hungry?

13 comments:

Emily Sweet said...

So true! I've read Dr. Fuhrman's books and I always try to remind myself what he says about hunger.

Alipet813 said...

I hear this too a point, but I really do get a headache if I don't eat. Maybe I could try a drink of water though and see if I am a little dehydrated. I have been pushing the hunger button a little more lately and it hasn't been bad except for the occasional headache and th fact that I start to fixate on food a bit.

Julie Ann said...

I am loving these tips! Thanks for all the inspiration.

Wendy said...

Alipet813-SOrry to hear about your headaches. I was a longtime sufferer of bad headaches. I can only speak to my own experience, but going Nutritarian has eliminated my migranes completely and it is only occassionally that I have a headache. When I do have one, it's always lack of sleep or sickness and never food related. I hope you give the hunger experiment a try. Hunger just is that healthy.

Karena said...

Once again a thought provoking post! I often find that, if I let myself get stomach-growling hungry, I'll overeat later in the day terribly. I wonder if that's more almost a mental conditioning I've *talked* myself into? I've ordered The Beck Diet Solution and am looking forward to working through it. Thanks for the suggestion.

Wendy said...

Karena-I know that I have experienced the same phenomenon. But I still tell myself to wait to eat until my next regular mealtime, even if my stomach is growling between meals. The more you practice this, the less and less the overeating happens at the mealtime that follows. Now, if I were to go into a meal without a real strong hunger feeling, it would be strange. I used to eat many meals without being really hungry because I would have curbed my appetite with a snack at some point prior to mealtime. That was a lot of extra food.

Sindy said...

I can deal with a pang here or there. But when I get too hungry, I really feel like I am going to pass out or die! I eat b/w meals a lot. But this is something new for me to think about

Jen said...

Hunger panic & binge used to be my behavior before going plant-strong. I changed this with Dr. Fuhrman's Eat to Live challenge. 1-2 weeks of a huge load of plant-food & no processed, sugar (lots of stevia!)starch, olive oil, animal prod (except milk in coffee, tiny bit of goat cheese on salad) I reprogrammed my body and completely turned off the cravings, first time in my entire life & I'm 47! Now when I am hungry, I run to the nearest avail healthy food to quickly fill up so I don't go for the bad stuff. In my daily routine, I've learned where to access these foods...restaurants with salads I love, Whole Foods, & in a pinch, Stop & Shop for hummus, carrots & Mary's Gone Crackers. If coming into home famished, I rush to the Vitamixer & make a V-8 or green smoothie. When I do have slip-ups, I push the greens & raws next day to prevent becoming addicted to fat, sugar or starch again.

Wendy said...

Jen-awesome tips! thank you!

Sindy-since I know you personally, I know that you are not in an overconsumption of calories situation. Hunger issues for you may not be the same as hunger issues for a person that is overweight due to overconsumption of calories. What you may be experiencing as hunger is like to be actual hunger and a signal that you should eat.

babsbeau said...

This is great. I recently started asking my body what it needs instead of going with what my brain wants to eat. Sounds sort of weird, but it has been working out pretty well.

When I am feeling hungry (or squirrely as I like to call it) I say, "Body? What do you need right now?" In this way I am learning to tune into what my BODY is actually craving which frequently turns out to be fruit or veggies. Go figure!

Christie said...

OK - but no one has addressed all the other diet books that tell you that if you wait to eat or skip meals, your body goes into starvation mode and your metabolism slows. Some even encourage eating 6 small meals instead of 3 larger one. Is this a myth because I certainly do not want to slow my metabolism any more!!??

Wendy (Healthy Girl) said...

Christie-According to Dr. Fuhrman, not only is eating 6 times a day a myth-it is also unhealthy. Did you read the link in my blogposting to his article? It pretty well explains his thought on the subject, and based on my experience following his recommendations, I am going with everything that he says. I have found that his recommendations all work for me. It is up to each and every one of us to find what works for us. If you are eating more than 3 times a day and you are not at your happy weight, I would advise that you give Dr. Fuhrman's recommendations at least a 6 month try. What you are likely to find is that by the end of 6 months you are at your happy weight with more energy than you ever thought possible.

wildmary said...

One of the things I like about hunger is how good food tastes when I am truly hungry. When I used to snack regularly I had to eat increasingly rich foods to satisfy the snack urge because I wasn't hungry! What a vicious cycle! It's really no big deal. Think about the gatherers and foragers who have/had to find every meal in the wild...

 
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