Understanding Hunger

What’s the feeling at the bottom of the plate?

When was the last time you had true hunger?

Hunger as the true feeling of hunger – not hunger to relieve an emotion (boredom/fatigue/procrastination/stress) or even thirst?

Create Self Awareness Around Food – WHY Are You Eating?

Food is delicious – and in the primarily hedonistic world we live in nowadays, eating food fulfils a lot of roles – comfort, reward, currency, and commonly a mode of escape from different aspects of our lives. The main reasons people get hungry include:

  1. Genuine hunger – maintenance of bodily functions (true hunger)
  2. Thirst – most don’t drink enough water (distraction)
  3. Boredom (distraction)
  4. Reward/celebration (neutral – neither distraction nor true hunger – based on food as a form of pleasure)
  5. Stress (distraction)
  6. Low mood/Emotions(distraction)
  7. Procrastination (distraction)

Notice that most of this list is using food to attempt to fix a non-food problem. The second is mistaking thirst for hunger. The reality is that this is the way we operate 80% of the time – our hunger cues are off course.

Get down to the nitty gritty reason why you want to eat – which can be an uncomfortable activity. This is because we might realise we are feeling that hunger as a craving to fill ANOTHER emotion.

Embrace True Hunger

If you have generally unhealthy habits in your life, you might find your reasons for hunger are usually beyond true hunger OR you indulge in foods that are less nutritious (“unhealthy” foods). Take away all the emotion, craving, dysfunction and want and you will have pure hunger for food left.

Our health journeys thrive best when we return to our simple preferred basics and roots (in fact most of life becomes easier when you simplify). Plus there is more room to eat what you crave from time to time and still be healthy if you are primarily simple with your nutrition.

The basics on food are – eating to NOURISH your body – you should feel better after you eat and even more so hours after you eat. This is a more basic level of understanding that would benefit most people.

Move from seeing food as something that plays numerous complex and psychological roles in your life to seeing food with a simple basic purpose of providing nutrition. This require removing bad and unhealthy habits, and replacing them with good ones.

Accepting Hunger Is The Way Forward

This is to say that you shouldn’t run to kill every feeling of hunger that you have. Get to know that experiencing hunger from time to time is one form of being comfortable with discomfort which is a key in maintaining success in your health journey.

Get to find out your TRUE source of hunger – and when it truly is because you need to eat, aim to make more nutritious food and less of hyperpalatable foods which will tend to make you overeat and less likely nourish you.

Coping with hunger and not being impulsive as a rule is a form of self discipline that will work in the long run. It will be easier to fight temptations the next time, which will build momentum and builds confidence.

How To Tell If It’s True Or False Hunger

One way is to identify the feeling attached to wanting to eat. Will having the thing you’re craving fix the feeling that makes you want to eat in the first place? If the answer is yes – then it was likely a food a craving. If the answer is no – then you a probably using food as a fix for a non-food problem.

One other way is to pay attention to the kinds of food that you desire to eat. Salty food? Sour Food? A cold glass of juice? Or vegetables?

Although what you crave will probably be what you have been used to eating. A person who has grown up disliking vegetables and usually doesn’t eat them has developed a “taste” for foods other than vegetables – even if they are craving vitamins and nutrients.

It is more complicated when we get to the specific foods because if you lack awareness to your body’s true nutritional needs, the cravings may go unsolved – craving cold juice might mean you should probably drink some water instead.

Get to know and understand your cravings and you will find the solution to what you need.

An Exercise To Understand True Or False Hunger

The next time you feel hungry or a thought comes for you to eat – take 30 seconds to think about it and ask yourself a few questions:

-Is there an urgency or a sense of anxiety or NEED to have this food? Then it’s likely from a place of distraction.

-Will you be uncomfortable if you don’t have this food? If the food you feel hungry for is replaced by a meal with substance (whole foods, nutrients etc) – will your hunger be sated? If no, then it’s likely from a place of distraction. If yes, then it is true hunger.

-Is there something you know you should be addressing in your life and instead of tackling it, eating seems a better course of action? If yes, then it’s a high chance of being a distraction.

-Will the issue still persist after eating? This is probably the biggest sign of eating as a way to deal with a non-food problem.

Master your hunger awareness and gain control back of your nutrition.

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