How can I be hungry again?! Sound familiar? When you are learning to listen and trust your hunger cues, so many thoughts can get in the way. If you have been a dieter, this is completely understandable. You’ve been taught all these rules on when you should eat, what you should eat, and how much. You are told you have willpower if you fight your hunger cues and not “cave in.” There is the belief that you are doing it “right” when you can do this.
The mindset of not caving into hunger can stay with you in ways that you may not realize. An easy example can look like this; You eat breakfast at seven in the morning, and within one hour, you feel like you did not eat a thing. You feel physically hungry. Like 1-2 on the hunger scale hungry. What are thoughts that come to your mind when you think of yourself in this situation? Likely, your first thought would be close to “I can’t possibly be hungry! I just ate!” You might even try to distract yourself to push yourself to not eat until lunch, or even as I have talked about until it has been three hours.
See how easy it is to create rules when you came from rules about your body. You automatically think that your body is doing something wrong versus it just talking to you. (This is why I am very adamant about saying that 3-4 hours is just a guideline, not a rule.) When you are in a place of annoyance with your body, you don’t allow yourself to be open to the possible reasons your body is experiencing more hunger.
Why You Can Experience Hunger
You can experience hunger for any of these reasons:
- You did not eat enough at breakfast
- You did not eat enough of the macronutrients that sustain you in the morning. I often give the example of “oatmeal people” and “non-oatmeal people” when I talk about this. Some people can eat a bowl of oatmeal and feel amazing and satisfied all morning. This gives you the information that their body does really well with whole grains in the morning. And then there are people who, after eating a bowl of oatmeal, are hungry in an hour or ready to go back to bed. This is all information. This tells you that you need more protein and fat with your whole grains. There are no rules, just information that your body gives you.
- You may have been more active the day before
- You have worked out in the morning, and your hunger cues at the time you ate were blunted, and you didn’t give yourself enough to refuel.
- You ate too little the day before
- You are just having a hungrier day
- You are premenstrual, which is normal to experience increased hunger cues during that time.
Think about these. As you are learning intuitive eating, you are learning to give space to what your body is asking and respond. But do you struggle with that? Do you have this old voice inside your head wanting to dismiss it? A part of you that is actually annoyed or even feels guilty.
Your body is giving you a biological cue that it needs food when it is hungry. The same if your body gave you the biological signal you needed to pee an hour after you went. Are you annoyed then? You probably just go and don’t feel any guilt or emotions towards it. You likely can give yourself the generous space of “I just needed to go again” or “It’s from the coffee I had this morning.” There’s a neutralness towards it.
How can you give yourself that same neutrality and gracious space towards your hunger? This is the key to healing. You become curious with your cues versus annoyed or guilty. Can it be inconvenient at times, sure, but being mad at your body only keeps you in the war and fighting with your body versus listening and responding to what your companion is telling you.
The more you can look at your body as a companion just talking to you, you will learn the conversation. You will become more aware of what happens and the intensity of the hunger your body experiences when you ignore it. Just as you notice and become aware of how smoothly the dialogue can go with your body when you listen to it.
Every time you respond to your body when it is asking you to tend to it, you are honoring your body. The honoring and tending it what re-establishes the trust in your body. It allows you to build on the trust in your body to tell you when, what, and how much to eat. Your trust in your body’s cues allows you to feel clear on your body’s language versus feeling confused or annoyed.
Mind, Body and Self-Care Hunger Cues
The difficult part of the journey can be deciphering what your thoughts are, what is your body talking about, and what is a needed act of self-care. Sometimes all three will be in play at the same time. Other times, only one of these is leading the show. The goal is to be able to decipher the difference. That is what we will explore this month.
In the next two weeks, we will explore common statements/beliefs that you may experience as you go through this process of deciphering what is your body talking versus being in your head. This week it would be great to practice awareness with your thoughts and body and how you are showing up. Using the definitions, that mind reflects a thought, opinion, or judgment. This is a big one. Are you judging your hunger? Do you judge your hunger because of the body you live in, using many “shoulds or shouldn’ts?” Body cue reflects the sensation or experience you feel inside of your body. Use last month’s information on being aware of where you feel the sensations of hunger, as well as the intensity. Self-care is an action that takes care of your needs but will also involve the mind. Are there times you don’t experience hunger, but you are implementing your Nutrition 911 plan, just as we discussed last week?
Then unblending what is yours and what was taught to you either by a parent or by diet culture (or both!) takes time. If you have been disordered in your relationship with food and your body, you will likely have a lot to reflect upon. The beauty of going through this process is to actually see what was learned versus what is the truth of your body. Finding this truth can only come from listening with curiosity and compassion. It’s asking yourself if the thought or belief is serving you. What an amazing healing adventure you are embarking on! You will discover so much and find the clarity you have been searching for. You just had to look in to find it.