Monday, September 12, 2011

Beck-Day 12: Practice Hunger Tolerance

Thank you so much for all of your well wishes for my daughter's speedy recovery. She appears to be doing better, although progress is slow.

Today I want to talk about Beck's Day 12: Practice hunger tolerance. The "how" to do this is a pretty simple exercise Beck gives us that, if followed, results in us overcoming any fear of hunger that we may have. I've written about hunger many times here on HGK, so if you are looking for more, check out this and this.

But the why of hunger tolerance is so important that I want to focus on it again here. To me, hunger tolerance includes all of the following things:
  • Understanding that just because you feel a hunger "pain" it doesn't mean that it is appropriate to eat (unless you want to remain overweight).
  • Getting over any fear of hunger you may have. For example, if you experience a hunger sensation  followed by thoughts like, "I have to eat something soon or I am going to get a headache, pass out, become hypoglycemic or experience any other undesirable side effect" then this subject is for you.
  • Knowing that hunger is not an emergency.
  • Understanding that naturally thin people do not fear hunger. When they are hungry, they might look at their watch. If it's a scheduled meal time, they eat. If not, they talk to themselves and say, "Hmmm, that's interesting. I feel hungry. Lunchtime is in one hour. I'll be eating then." They don't run over to the vending machine in a panic or go over to their refrigerator looking for an in-between meal snack. If they did that every time they felt hungry, they wouldn't maintain their healthy weight!
  • Embracing the idea that hunger is healthy and is a sign that our body is working properly.
  • Knowing that eating every time that we perceive we are hungry is unnatural and unhealthy. In my opinion, it is a major contributing factors to the overweight epidemic we are experiencing. The idea that we should eat six small meals per day in order to never experience serious hunger results in two negative things (1) the over consumption of calories, because let's get real, how small would those six meals have to be in order to remain within our calorie requirements? and (2) the prevention of our body's natural detoxification processes. When our body is in digestion all day long, it never enters the cellular detoxification phase. To read about toxic hunger, check this out.
If you recognize yourself and your negative thought patterns in what I have outlined above, I highly recommend working Beck's Day 12 exercise. At this point in my life, I am regularly practicing hunger tolerance. Like right now (it's 6:45 am), as I finish this post, I am feeling really hungry. But I know that if I eat breakfast now, I will be hungry for lunch way too early. So I am comfortable living with my hunger and growly stomach and waiting until after 8 am to eat. I know that my hunger is not the emergency that I once thought it was. I also know that when I get busy doing stuff around the house, I probably won't even feel hungry anymore.

Do you have a good relationship with your hunger? Are you able to withstand reasonable periods of hunger without eating something?

Have you worked this step in Beck? What has your experience with Step 12 been?


infinebalance said...

I've been following along with Beck for a while now and I had already come to this step. The first time a really put "hunger is never an emergency" into practise was so eye opening for me. It was much easier than I had thought. However the last few weeks I've gotten back to old habits and started feeding my face whenever I feel even the slightest bit hungry.
Thanks for the reminder, it came at the perfect time.

Jen said...

I realized that I've raised my kids to see hunger as an emergency. They are teens now, but when younger, everything stopped to get them a snack or arrange a meal time around their hunger issues, and snacks were usually a processed carb out of a box.

TejasJJain said...

Hi Wendy,
This is useful post for me. As I do fast very often, then only experience hunger after noon. That means that I really do not need food till afternoon.
Other thing you mentioned that if you eat 6 times a day, you will end up overeating.
I am thinking should I limit my food intake to only 4 times?
What about green smoothie (greens + apple, no banana or nut/milk )?
When I do three meals per day, I do end up eating more.
Other thing I am working on is to go to bed early. I noticed that after 9, I am not very strong.


Eric S. said...

This is my big problem, relationship with hunger; when it hurts, eat. Or maybe a better way to put it is when in doubt, eat. Sometimes it is eat first ask questions later. I'm working on it though, wish me luck!

Healthy Girl said...

Tejas-I believe a green smoothie is the same for your digestion as anything else, so when you drink one, it's the same as having a meal.

Going to bed earlier really helps me. I find that I do not overeat at all during the day, I do all of my overeating at night when I am tired.

I think that the best thing to do is to try to limit the number of food events that you are having to three so that you give your body plenty of time to rest in between digestion.

Eric-good luck! you can do it! you have awareness now.

TejasJJain said...

Thanks Wendy for your response. I have been drinking green smoothie in hope that it is just waster and micro-nutrient.
Even though I am participating in '6 week challenge', I am a bit frustrated as I see no result, despite being on oil free diet.
I am losing a lot more hair (there will be still extra 5, but I am just targeting this first 10 lbs).
Someone suggested that I do need little seed/nut to get essential fat.
Anyway, result is motivational and without seeing one, I am finding hard to stay motivated.
I guess I have to figure out a way to stay motivated first.

TejasJJain said...

What about herbal tea? Can I drink it in between?

Vandy said...

This was a timely post for me- I have been reading the Beck Diet Solution and trying to put it's principles into practice. Today, when I awaoke, I did not have breakfast immediately, becuse I felt no hunger. At 10 am, when I actually did feel hungry, I had an Amazing Greens smoothie. Afterward, I filled a giant pitcher with water, lemons and limes and drank that consistently until I felt hungry for lunch- which I then ate sensibly.
I would much rather the feeling of some hunger than the over-stuffed feeling of eating too much!
Thank you for the inspiration!

Healthy Girl said...

Tejas-I think herbal tea between meals would be just fine, but I am not Dr. Fuhrman, so I cannot say for sure. Would it be possible for you to measure your food for a few days and calculate the number of calories you are consuming? Perhaps you are in fact consuming too many calories than weight loss would require. Ultimately, it all comes down to calories in and calories out. Creating the deficit of calories creates weight loss, unless you have a medical problem. How long have you been doing the program?

Megan in Portland said...

This post has been so helpful for me the past few days. Each time I've felt hungry and wanted to do something about it I've just thought to myself, "well that's okay, being hungry isn't a big deal, I'll eat in x amount time and that's just fine - that's what Wendy is doing, so I can too."

Healthy Girl said...

Yeah for Mandy in Portland!

chickpeafreak said...

Very good post—and a very good lesson I need to learn too! Boo! ;-) I am becoming so much more aware now though, thank you!

Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day said...

I have been working on this .. hunger tolerance is a great way to actually put a name to it.

I had such an abusive childhood.. I was actually starved.. and also made to throw up my food for my father... so he could see if I had eaten. I also was so hungry I ate food out of trash cans in school... so it's been very challenging for me to feel hungry... but I know that I am not in those places anymore as an adult... but the root or WHY I overeat.. and eat for comfort.. is very very strong... this is all part of being honest with my overeating... this disclosure.. so yeah.. feels strange to do it...

katshealthcorner said...

Hunger Tollerance is something I must say, I have had a so so relationship with. I used to be so obesessed with eating on a "sceduele" -- eating when I wasn't hungry, not eating when I was hungry. But now, I am trying to pay attention to when it is TRUE hunger. A tummy growl isn't necessarily hunger. I just strive to listen to my body.

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