What Does Real Hunger Feel Like to You?

by Charlotte on November 6, 2011 · 46 comments

“Mom! I need food now! My little legs are so weak!!” My 7-year-old son eats like his dad (and is dramatic like his mom) so I wasn’t surprised when he came barging in the door after school as if he were auditioning for Oliver! He then proceeded to eat half the kitchen and only quit when he realized the spaghetti he was chewing on was the plastic pile that came with Jelly Bean’s play kitchen. The next morning at breakfast I prepared his usual feast only to have him shrug and say, “I’m not hungry this morning” and wander off to put Legos down his Captain America costume (I don’t question it as long as they’re dressed in something).

Now compare that with this recent conversation:

Friend: You want to go get something to eat?

Me: I dunno. Are you hungry?

Friend: Eh. I could eat. Are you?

Me: Maybe. What were you thinking?

Friend: I dunno. I’m kind of munchy.

Me: It’s okay, watching the 24/7 news coverage of Kim Kardashian’s Fairytale Divorce does that to a lot of people.

Figuring out if I’m hungry, when I’m hungry, what I’m hungry for and then when I stop being hungry has been probably the most important lesson I’ve learned and the hardest struggle I’ve had over the past year-plus of Intuitive Eating. Being a basic bodily function and all you’d think this would be easy but sadly for most of us we lose the ability to really understand our hunger cues sometime between childhood and grownup-hood. (We also lose the ability to sleep in bizarre positions which is another child superpower I wish I still had. My same son once fell asleep with his head and torso on his bed and his feet on his bookcase leaving his body dangling in midair. Awesome.)

I have hunger on my mind because today is “fast Sunday.” The first Sunday of each month is designated for LDS (a.k.a. Mormons) to go 24 hours without any food or drink. While I do it primarily for spiritual reasons, I do see other benefits from this as well and one of the best (and worst) is remembering what real bodily hunger feels like. It kinda sucks, frankly.

I went for a long time not knowing what this felt like. When I was in the grip of various eating disorders, I remember that hazy, light-headed, exhausted past-hunger-to-starvation feeling. And then when I was Getting Healthy By The Book By Golly and eating 6 mini-meals a day every three hours like clockwork, I remember always feeling kinda full but never quite sated. At the time I was experiencing these feelings I thought both situations were ideal – “I’m so hungry I don’t feel hungry anymore! Whee! Wait… how am I driving a car?” and “I eat so much I never feel hungry! Whee! Wait… am I eating a cold chicken breast while driving a car?” The problem with my thinking (and with myriad diet tips, frankly) is that feeling hungry is a good thing. It’s your body talking to you and telling you that everything is in proper working order and oh by the way, time for more fuel please.

All the food noise in our culture makes hunger hard to hear. These past few days, after an unfortunate incident with the Halloween candy that I’d rather not remember but the 20 mini candy bar wrappers can explain, I decided I needed to really focus on my hunger cues. Here’s what I’ve learned about me and my body so far:

- Hunger is the need for fuel

- Hunger is not the need for comfort, entertainment, stress relief, novelty or love*

- I feel real hunger in my stomach – it tightens and growls – and not as much in my mouth. When I see candy my mouth waters but my stomach doesn’t usually join in.

- If I get too hungry the only thing I want to eat is sugar and simple carbs

- If I eat when I’m not hungry I feel a little sick

- Real hunger ebbs and flows. A craving can be super persistent but true hunger does not feel like an emergency. Like today, when I choose not to eat for 24 hours I will obviously get very hungry and yet reminding myself of what I’m doing and why often makes the hunger pangs subside for a bit. And then they return in an hour or two.

- When other people around me are eating it makes me want to eat too, even if I’m not hungry.

- The “I’m full” signal is harder to hear than the “I’m hungry” one but it is there. I’d thought that I’d completely damaged the mechanism to feel satiety but when I eat quietly and am not distracted I’ve found that even I can hear it.

- When I eat past the point of fullness it’s most often out of a sense of deprivation, i.e. “This candy tastes so amazing but I can’t eat it ever again because it’s so bad for me (never mind I’m taking candy…from a baby)!” Eating because I feel deprived never ends well. In fact, one of the trickiest parts of IE for me is trying to mitigate feeling deprived.

All of this made me curious- what have you discovered about your hunger? How did you learn to hear your hunger? What’s your take on emotional eating?

*So is it wrong to eat for reasons besides hunger? A lot of diet gurus and books say yes but I don’t know that I agree. Food can be comforting, entertaining, soothing, and novel and I think using it for that purpose on occasion is fine. So much of food is about the experience of eating it, right? But I think that when I do this I need to be perfectly honest with myself about why I’m using food in this way and if it is really the best thing to help me feel better (and often the answer is no). Emotional eating in my book isn’t always harmful but it’s harmful when eating is all you do to deal with your emotions.

 

 

{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Terri November 6, 2011 at 11:45 pm

I’m having issues figuring out my hunger lately. I seem to go from “I’m a bit peckish” to starving and shakey without much in between. It’s a worry ! I need to pay more attention.

I don’t think eating when you’re not hungry is as big a sin as some make out – I believe that if you know you’re doing it and it isn’t compulsive and it’s now and then and you’re in the moment and enjoying it then – like everything else – in moderation it’s fine.

I’m currently re-reading my IE book at the moment. I seem to have fallen off the bandwagon and need to get back on.

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Terri November 6, 2011 at 11:46 pm

Sorry about that paragraph sentence ! I should have read it before hitting submit :)

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Charlotte November 7, 2011 at 7:18 am

Haha no worries – it made perfect sense to me! And yeah, learning to hear my hunger is definitely more of a process than an end…

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Charlotte November 7, 2011 at 7:33 am

P.S. “I’m feeling peckish” is one of my top 10 fave sayings ever!

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cbuffy November 7, 2011 at 8:46 am

I named my kayak “Feeling Peckish”… (Double entendre – it’s a good pec workout, and I’m TERRIBLE at it, so it pisses me off… thus… Peckish!)

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Sue November 7, 2011 at 1:02 am

I’m actually still struggling with listening to my body, a lot! I often eat when I’m bored or tired or sad. If I eat when I’m not really hungry, I usually feel bad afterwards, because I’m too full. That’s not good, and I really need to work on this habit.
Sometimes I really envy my husband. He can easily go 24 hours without any solid food, especially when he’s busy. He literally lives off of coffee, with lots of (full fat) milk and sugar. Uh, men!

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Charlotte November 7, 2011 at 7:34 am

Yes, anytime I eat unconsciously whatever the reason I end up feeling bad about it…

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Heather @ Bake, Run, Live November 7, 2011 at 3:53 am

I’m still learning. I don’t drink a lot of fluids, so I know sometimes that hungry feeling is really an “I want fluids” feeling.
I do tend towards emotional eating or when I’m bored (like 2pm at work). As far as work goes, I try to always have a healthy snack with me, so that I’m not heading towards the vending machine. As far as the emotional eating, I’ve gotten better at recognizing it for what it is, but still struggle dealing with the emotional issues that cause the emotional eating.

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Charlotte November 7, 2011 at 8:03 am

Good point about the fluids thing! Sometimes I’m just thirsty too…

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Elisa November 7, 2011 at 4:04 am

I like your point that emotional eating is okay as long as you’re doing something about your problem as well. My friend is struggling with being a single mom in the middle of a custody battle as well as bi-polar disorder. When she calls me, her biggest complaints are about what she is craving and allowing herself to eat- mashed potatoes, brownies, and pasta. I keep telling her that her diet is the least of her concerns, but in my opinion, she needs some control. Diet is one area that you can have control in, but when life is bad, food makes it better? I don’t know what to tell her, but I just listen and try not to judge!

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Miz November 7, 2011 at 4:40 am

Im back to square one with the child with regards to this —- so thank you for the post.

we teach our kids (uh WE being the schools :)) when to eat and how FAST FAST to eat all by a watch and not the belly.

They are ruining the groundwork I laid….

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Charlotte November 7, 2011 at 8:17 am

So true about schools teaching bad habits in this regard!

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Lauren November 8, 2011 at 5:26 am

I have a slow eater. Like, “okay sweetie, it’s 6:15. You have until 7pm and then dinner is over” and she doesn’t manage it. She tells us stories, she plays airplane with her own fork, she asks to be fed, there’s usually a pee break in there too. One of us has to sit there with her while the other wanders off and tidies the kitchen, loads the dishwasher, folds laundry… And when (after 2 extensions) we give up and take the plate away, she pitches a fit. How are each of you handling this with respect to letting the child decide what and how much to eat, but not totally disrupting the table culture?
I read on a parenting blog one woman’s reasons for eating which she teaches her children: because it tastes good, because it does the body good, and/or because we respect the cook. She felt that too many kids get a free pass on reasons 2 and 3. I’d say as an adult I struggle with each equally but differently.

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Helen December 21, 2012 at 11:10 pm

The French have fabulous eating habits and they are very strict with children. Especially about food! I have a friend whose husband is French. He is fanatical about always having dinner at the table. The television MUST be off. There are NO SNACKS between meals. Dinner is always well prepared and laid out (often simple) but everyone MUST SIT THERE and they MUST EAT, and there is NO PLAYING WITH FOOD. The children are made to eat foods they object to, because the French believe that children must be taught to like foods. Dinner is eaten slowly, but if you haven’t finished in a reasonable time, meaning at the same time as everyone else, it’s too late! You are not allowed to keep people waiting. And, you won’t eat until the next meal, because there’s no snacking! He is really strict and I believe there were a lot of arguments at first with my friend’s 6-year-old (from a previous marriage) but she got used to it. Kids can get used to anything. As a French person, these are the rules of his culture and he is passionate about it. I must say, my friend and her daughter have both lost weight since he came along (a good thing) and they are all very healthy and look amazing.

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Hannah November 7, 2011 at 5:29 am

Great post! Listening to our hunger is so hard, and something I am still working on. Hunger comes in so many forms and with so many triggers, unique to each person!

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redhead November 7, 2011 at 6:33 am

“So much of food is about the experience of eating it, right?”

There’s a difference between the FOOD itself and where you’re eating it – and who you’re eating it with. Going out with family or friends and having a good meal can be very comforting, stress-relieving and good, but (at least for me) it’s about the company and the fact that I didn’t have to cook any of it or clean any dishes, more than whatever I’m actually eating.

I get that “eh, I could eat” feeling sometimes – it usually means I could go for a snack but I won’t be hungry for a meal for another hour or two. If we’re trying to plan a meal out with a large group, sometimes I’ll go ahead and order a snack, or get something and just take home a lot of leftovers, rather than making everyone wait till I’m really hungry – because it’s more about the company than the actual meal. At least for me.

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Naomi/Dragonmamma November 7, 2011 at 6:34 am

How timely. After eating way too much left-over Halloween candy last week, I’ve been sticking to two decent meals of real food a day for the past two days, AND I’M HUNGRY!!
I know this because my rumbling tells me so. I don’t get weak or shaky, but I do have an over-whelming urge to cram something in my mouth.

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Dr. J November 7, 2011 at 7:24 am

Doing IF, I think I know what hunger feels like :-)

I once had a visiting friend from Germany. She at on a traditional schedule. One day, because of the traveling we did, she ate on my schedule. She remarked that now she knew what real hunger felt like :-)

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Marsha @ Green Mountain at Fox Run November 7, 2011 at 7:42 am

Lots of good insight, as usual, Charlotte. I especially love this one: “When I eat past the point of fullness it’s most often out of a sense of deprivation.” So true for so many of us, yet the very thing that’s needed to get us past that — giving ourselves unconditional permission to eat what, as much and when we want — is sooo hard for so many. It’s hard until you experience it to understand that giving yourself that permission actually helps many of us to stop overeating, instead of causing us to eat more.

As far as emotional eating goes, I’m with you. Emotional eating is great; think birthday cake when you’re at the party and you’re not hungry at all. The only way it becomes a problem is if it’s the only way we have to manage our emotions.

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Melanie November 7, 2011 at 12:16 pm

Great point about the birthday cake. I often wondered about this because when you’re hungry, you don’t eat cake. So does that mean you never have cake? No, as long as you’re not eating it as a way to deal w/ problems.

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Penny November 7, 2011 at 7:52 am

Oh my God I love this post. Every second WORD I was screaming “me TOO!” inside my head. We need to eat food for reasons other than hunger in general – to celebrate, to comfort, to be with others. My tipping point in deciding this for myself was helping a very poorly friend who had been depressed for a long time and relapsed a little. We cooked together and ate her first proper meal together, and although I didn’t need it in a normal hungry way, it still needed to be done. It’s an extreme example, but I think in a small way the need for food in ways other than for hunger permeate all our lives, and it’s what makes IE so difficult.. I actually emotionally eat consciously (and that’s the critical word – consciously)every now and again just to prove to myself I can, that I won’t get fat overnight, that I still have the ability to let myself off without going crazy.

Px

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AthleticAli November 7, 2011 at 7:54 am

I can definitely relate to the ‘getting so hungry that I’m no longer hungry’ point! When I was recovering from undereating, I found it so difficult to eat ‘intuitively’, simply because I’d stopped feeling hungry. That feeling of hunger never hit my stomach; I’d sometimes feel lightheaded, or struggle concentrating, and know I needed to eat, but that was it.

Ironically, it was only through eating more that I started to get to a genuine ‘hungry’ stage. Now, if I skip a meal, my stomach sounds like a motorbike!

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Chelsea November 7, 2011 at 10:09 am

I actually have a lot harder time with the hungry feeling rather than the full feeling. I absolutely hate feeling too full, so I don’t have any trouble stopping at about 80% filled. However, I always doubt my feelings of hunger. Even if I haven’t eaten in a long time, I always feel like I have to drink some more water just in case I might be thirsty or distract myself with something just in case I might be bored. And sometimes I really am thirsty or bored. It would be nice not to have to fret so much about figuring it out though.

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Liz @ IHeartVegetables November 7, 2011 at 10:19 am

I am SO bad at figuring out when I’m actually hungry. You wouldn’t think it would be that hard!

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Geosomin November 7, 2011 at 10:25 am

I struggle with feeling full. My full meter seems to kick in about 30 minutes after I’ve eaten enough so I have to try and watch msyelf…learning portions has been tricky. Now that I eat a more level amount I find if I’m not careful I fovereat and then feel overly full an hour after a meal. Bleh.

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Crabby McSlacker November 7, 2011 at 10:41 am

Nothing wrong with my hungry/full signals, fortunately, but the problem comes when I don’t listen to ‘em. Recreational eating is so tempting sometimes!

I couldn’t do any sort of “diet” where I was starving all the time, but I enjoy being hungry by mealtime and even working up a ravenous eat-every-thing-in-sight appetite every now and then… food tastes so great!

Great topic, btw.

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Cammy November 7, 2011 at 11:00 am

Oh my hunger cues are so whacked out. I think it’s the main barrier to me trusting the whole IE thing for myself right now. I sometimes don’t feel hungry even after it’s past time to eat again, then I will eat and be RAVENOUS a half hour after finishing a generous meal. Not leftover munchies appetite, but genuinely stomach hungry. It kinda pisses me off frankly. It was even worse when I was in the first stages of weight restoration from anorexia. Truth be told, I spent vastly more time hungry in the first 4 months of recovery than I did when I was severely restricting, just because my metabolism was coming out of hibernation. It was a good sign, but still frustrating.

I think one of the most useful things I ever did for a nutritionist was to record my hunger both before AND after each meal. That helped me to go back and look at overall patterns that might explain why I couldn’t seem to get true or consistent cues. The only problem is that sometimes if I stop to check in with myself about whether I’m hungry, if I conclude then I am then I wonder if it’s just psychosomatic hunger resulting from me stopping to think about it.

I think the key behind all that is that as we grow up we learn that we just shouldn’t trust our bodies, and as a result of everything we put them through, our bodies often don’t trust us either. I would give anything to being like your son again, so seemingly effortlessly in tune with what/when to take in energy.

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Heather November 7, 2011 at 11:28 am

I’ve decided that as long as I can acknowledge when I’m eating for reason other than hunger and WHY I’m doing it, it’s okay. It’s the completely mindless eating that brings problems.

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Diana in CT November 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm

If I listen to my body, it craves crunchy and heft. Thankfully something as simple as an apple and peanut butter will fill the void. Once I started listening to those clues, meal time wasn’t an endless search for satisfaction. I also find that Bagels and chocolate are my drugs of choice. When my body or mind is stressed above and beyond, I have found I crave these big time. It has nothing to do with hunger. However, being aware of where the needs are coming from has made all the difference in fulfilling the needs without binging and not feeling guilt.

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Lauren November 8, 2011 at 5:37 am

I totally concur! When I realise I’m craving a mouthfeel, I know it’s emotional eating and I need to look at the bigger picture. Gluten-y chewey montreal-style bagels, plus cream cheese? (I’m lactose and dairy intolerant, and Paleo.) I probably need water, a hit of magnesium and a nap. Chocolate pudding? GO OUTSIDE! Wheat has dopamine effects, so I figure that’s what my body is asking for – the high. Probably because it’s low – emotionally, in cortisol, whatever – and I should give it what it NEEDS, not what it thinks it WANTS. Which is some tricky business, because generally I believe that we get ourselves into trouble when we think we’re smarter than our bodies.
Man, now I’m craving a bagel with cream cheese. Doh!

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Hayley November 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm

Despite the fact that I never leave comments anymore, I do still read and this post came at a very appropriate time for me. I’ve lived with one eating disorder after another for over a decade, and currently I’m getting help to recover from Bulimia. I’ve gone from eating very little all day and having a “normal” (what IS normal anymore?!) dinner at night + other food because I’d been so deprived, to actually following some sort of meal plan throughout the course of the day. Throughout all these years the hardest thing for me to figure out is fullness. I get the hunger thing, and can so relate to the I’m-so-hungry-and-exhausted-I’m-not-even-hungry-anymore thing, but I can’t always figure out what it means to be full. Or should we never feel full? Are we only ever supposed to feel satiated? I’ve actually asked my husband, my mom and girlfriends to explain how they know when it’s time to stop eating and no one can really put it into words. I’ll eat a meal of eggs + egg whites and oatmeal and know it has ~320 calories and I’ll finish it all because I know the calorie content. Yet when I’m done sometimes I feel really bloated. Is that because of the fiber in the oatmeal or because I drank 3 cups of tea with it? Should I have stopped eating sooner? When I go out to eat and choose what I really want and have no clue what the calorie content is I find that I have to concentrate so much harder to figure out when I’ve hit that point of having enough. Even though there are many times when it tastes SO GOOD that I don’t want to stop eating, I know if I finish the entire plate I will have to be rolled out of the restaurant and consumed enough calories for the entire day. Since I’m in the beginning stages of my recovery I’m given a meal plan where I have a rough idea of how many calories I’m eating so as not to freak me out. But eventually I don’t want to measure or count ANYTHING because it’s not “normal.” There’s that freaking word again.

So this comment was mostly me rambling about my own issues when all I really wanted to say was thank you for putting this out there! I wish I had some answers, but I’m hoping that I’ll eventually learn. :)

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Julie November 7, 2011 at 1:52 pm

I think the problem isn’t emotional eating, but mindless emotional eating. If you aren’t hungry and are eating for some other reason, that is ok, so long as you recognize it. The first snowfall alaways makes me want to curl up on the couch with hot chocolate and a cookie. So long as I recognize what is happening, I can tell myself “Ok, you are doing this because it is comforting and makes you happy, so enjoy it!” instead of running the innter monologue of “Why are you eating? You aren’t even hungry? This is so unhealthy- I will have salad for dinner now!”
If I recognize the emotional reasons behind why I am eating, I can recognize when eating will be comfroting/make me happy vs. when it won’t and I can give myself permission to enjoy those times when eating truly is comforting. If I simply deny myself every time, I will eventually give in (birthday cake, christmas baking etc.), but then instead of enjoying it and getting the emotional benefit I will just beat myself up.
For me. I find it is all about 2 things: Recognizing why I want to eat and making a concious decision to heat, rather because of hunger or because of other reasons. If I want to eat because I am bored, once I recognize that I can usually come up with a better solution. However, if I want to have a pice of birthday cake even though I am full, because I want to celebrate and feel decadent on my birthday, I can give myself permission to fully enjoy it. (Sometimes even in those situations I realize I would be happier just packing it up, but not always, and I tell myself that it is ok)

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Alyssa (azusmom) November 7, 2011 at 3:33 pm

I’m an emotional eater, as you know, and it doesn’t help. Eating away my fear/anger/sadness/guilt/lonliness, etc. just doesn’t work. On the other hand, I also don’t believe that food is STRICTLY fuel. When I cook for my family I want to take care of them. So many social occasions revolve around food, and that food is carefully and lovingly prepared. IE is about finding the middle ground. There are foods that my brain wants that my body simply cannot handle, so I avoid them. As much as I might want them when I see them.
It makes me so sad that we lose touch with our hunger/satiety signals. Seems to me that our bodies are better capable of telling us what we need than a magazine/trainer/expert is. Yes, often we have to work really hard to get back in touch with those signals, but they won’t fail us if we really listen.

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Quix November 7, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I think it’s ok if hunger isn’t always your queue, as long as most of the time it is. The 90/10 rule and all. :)

One time when I have to I eat when I’m not hungry is after a long run/workout. I rarely am hungry feeling when I get home, but after a 3 hour run, I better refuel fast or I just fade and sink into the couch and mumble and get to the point where I almost physically can’t get up to get food by the time I realize I need to eat.

And life is too short without some food/drink for fun. :)

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Jody - Fit at 53 November 7, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Great post Charlotte! Eating can be fun or feel good or be a family tradition or bring out memories of childhood & so much more.

For me, to learn my hunger & when I am really hungry or not hungry took a lot of years & “listening” to my body, not my mind. We all find our own way with how we lose & maintain but we do have to understand this part of it Even though I am a mini meal eater, if I am not hungry, I wait…. if I am hungry early, am I thirsty or hungry…. it is learning to listen & know yourself vs. going thru the motions. I am even learning still! :-)

Emotional eating had always been part of me BUT I have conquered it for the most part. BUT, as you wrote, I may decide to eat emotionally OR not for hunger reasons BUT the thing about it is I think it thru & if I decide to eat, I OWN IT & MOVE ON! :-)

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MegD November 8, 2011 at 9:04 am

Love, love, love this post. Great stories and excellent thought starters. Been rolling this around in my brain for a bit and what is mostly coming up for me is that hunger is something I’ve been afraid of. For as far back as I can remember, my mom used to say, “I can’t talk to you when you are hungry/if you don’t eat I won’t talk to you.” So, yeah, being hungry was scary to me.

Now, through working with the Roth book (thanks to you!) and managing my weight through Weight Watchers (it works for me and I’m at a healthy weight so please don’t cringe!) I’m able to see hunger as you describe it and not as something I have to fear. It’s not pleasant or fun but it’s also not a tipping point to utter insanity. Owning my hunger has helped me so much over the past year or so; I’m actually grateful to it.

My husband and I were just last night discussing our six-year-olds eating style, which is similar to your son’s. We are choosing not to judge him and allowing him to follow his own body’s signals. We are doing our best not to pass so many habits on to him. And maybe learn some new ones of our own!

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Aine November 8, 2011 at 11:11 am

Hunger is a very tricky concept for me. A big part of the problem is that I have no concept of being full. I can eat three full-sized meals and still not really feel as though I’ve hit full capacity; of course, after a binge like that I’m certainly not hungry, but not being full either makes it hard to stop. Sometimes I’ll eat a whole meal and still feel hungry (physically, emotionally, who knows?!), even though I know intellectually that what I’ve eaten was enough nutritionally. Being hungry also feels almost the same (and sometimes seems EXACTLY the same) as anxiety, and I feel like I’ll panic if I can’t get my hands on something to eat. It’s amazing how out-of-touch the mind and body can become.

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A-man-Duh November 8, 2011 at 8:39 pm

Oh my goodness! So true about schools teaching kids to scarf their food! The school I teach at recently implemented a “Breakfast in the Classroom” program, where each child is to eat breakfast in class before instruction begins. However, we are to maximize instructional time, so they get all of ten minutes to scarf down whatever carb-heavy, greasy breakfast is served. Perhaps its because I’m not really into the program, my students don’t eat too much. Recently the head of the program called demanding to know why my students don’t eat. Apparently, they want me to force my students to participate! I’ve been throwing away the leftovers because I refuse to force them to eat if they’re not hungry!!! Or if they don’t like what we’re serving. I feel like my school is creating eating disorders with this program, but maybe I’m hypersensitive… I’m a recovering anorexic! Honestly, being hungry to me always has felt like success, I haven’t eaten anything! I’ve completely destroyed my hunger and fullness cues, so now I pretty much stick to an eating schedule. Sorry to ramble…

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Sarah November 12, 2011 at 8:37 am

Catching up on some posts – funny you posted this as yesterday I posted about ways to stop yourself eating when you don’t actually feel hungry! Whenever I’ve tried intuitive eating I seem to constantly be thinking “am I hungry” all the time – and somehow focusing on the feeling feels like it makes me hungrier. I find it difficult to get so absorbed in something that I forget about hunger. Problem is when I eat each time I feel a little hungry I eat more than I need, and it just escalates. I hate waiting to be hungry enough to eat, that feeling of building hunger frustrates me. I tend to end up then going back to set meal times and telling myself I can only eat when the clock reaches a certain time!

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Deb (SmoothieGirlEatsToo) November 13, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Timely topic for me as I’m now trying to really listen to my body and its hunger cycles. I remember reading a book ages ago and the gist of it was: “Real Hunger can wait. Urgent hunger is in your mind”. Soo true but I had forgotten it.

I used to be TERRIFIED of hunger. And if I didn’t feed the beast INSTANTLY (at the very first sign of hunger), I was crabby and couldn’t concentrate (hint: it was in my mind). Real hunger can wait an hour, or even two, maybe more depending on many factors. And guess what, no one died from hunger in an hour or two.

I used to marvel at my Dad- the most normal eater- we’d be out it would be way past society’s accepted 12-1pm lunch window that had also become my unconditional mealtime. I’d say “Aren’t you hungry- you wanna eat now?” He’d say, ‘naw, we’ll be at (favorite restaurant) in an hour’ or ‘I want to have an appetite for dinner/lunch’ HUH? You WANT to be hungry?? I am trying to take on board these lessons. They are valuable. And liberating. Your son is on the right track.

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Stephanie March 20, 2013 at 2:34 pm

I have been trying to follow a similar plan and just stumbled onto this IE eating, I was following Bethenny Frankel’s book which is somewhat of the same concept but this seems to be easier and saner. I wanted to know, what is the best book to get to start my IE journey on? I lost 50lbs on the Dukan diet and tried Bethenny’s to maintain but have been flip flopping back and forth from hers to Dukan ever since, I’ve kept it off but need a lifestyle, seems the IE is the way to go. Can you give me some recommendations on the best books to read? Thanks so much!

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