The second part of the Intuitive Eating series, learning to honour your hunger.
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Today I’m continuing my series on Intuitive Eating, if you missed the first principle, Reject the Diet Mentality, be sure to check that out as well.
The second principle of intuitive eating is Honour Your Hunger.
Our bodies are really impressive, they have a hormone system that signals us when we need fuel. It starts off small with a twinge in the stomach letting you know you’re getting hungry and should start thinking about getting some food together. Then the stomach twinge starts to become more and more pronounced until it’s gargling loudly and it feels like someone is twisting a screwdriver into your stomach.
When you ignore these not so subtle signals your body gives you, it goes further and starts messing with your brain. You start to feel like you can’t concentrate which then turns into a headache or a lightheaded feeling. Then if you still haven’t eaten anything, you experience full on “hanger”, which I describe as completely irrational anger that will be lashed out on any person who looks at you, speaks to you or does not hand you food immediately.
When you get to the point of being over-hungry, all hopes of making healthy decisions about your food choices go out the window. Nobody chooses a salad when they’re so hungry they’re seriously contemplating grabbing food out of a complete stranger’s hands. Instead, you’re looking for the most immediately satisfying foods that you can shove into your face as quickly as possible.
The amount of food you eat when you’re over hungry also changes. Our fork becomes a shovel and your brain doesn’t have a chance to catch up and signal you it’s full before it’s too late.
Therefore, the principle of honouring your hunger begins with becoming in tune with those early signs of hunger. By recognizing hunger early, you can make rational decisions about what you want to eat and have time to prepare before you hit the hanger zone.
Sounds simple enough but all too often, we ignore our hunger signals and instead follow external cues like food rules and diet plans that tell us when and how much to eat. After ignoring our hunger signals over and over again by skipping meals and dieting, you can become an expert at ignoring hunger cues and it takes practice to learn to listen to your body again. Check in with yourself every couple of hours, pay attention to subtle changes in the way your body feels and ask yourself, am I hungry.
Honouring your hunger also means that you have to eat when you’re hungry. Trust in your body and it’s ability to let you know when it needs fuel. It does not matter if it’s only been 1 hour since lunch, if you’re hungry, eat. It doesn’t have to be a large amount, but start with a small snack and see if it satisfies. You also have to give yourself permission to eat whenever you’re hungry. Stop listening to food rules like don’t eat after 8 pm. There is no Timex in your stomach that switches all food into fat the moment the clock strikes 8. If your body is signalling hunger, it’s signalling a need for fuel, trust it.
Honouring your hunger can be a scary step, you may feel like you’re going to overeat. But you won’t. Trust your body. In future principles, we will discuss fullness and how to make healthy choices.
Have you experienced hanger – what do you do to prevent it? Have you followed food rules instead of listening to your body?
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