Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hunger That is Not Hunger

Feeling hungry and being hungry are not the same thing. It is my reactions to the chaotic life situations, not the situations themselves, that cause me the hunger that is not hunger.

The other day I went from a stressful day of financial accounting for my business taxes straight to preparing, cooking and then eating dinner. On the last bite I started thinking this is not enough food. I am still hungry. I want to eat something else. 

I got up, went into the kitchen and looked in the cabinet. Then I looked on my food plan for the day and saw I had not eaten the apple I was going to have for a mid-morning snack. I could still eat that. But I did not want an apple I wanted something else. . . . dingdingding! WARNING WARNING!

That is when I realized: I can have the apple but I do not want it. Obviously I am not hungry - something else is causing me to feel hunger that is not hunger. I made a phone call to someone else who shares my food issues and talked about what I had been doing, the stress of the day, not taking a moment to stop and think or meditate or chill out, or pray - anything - before I moved on to dinner.

Once I talked it out I was no longer feeling the desire to eat and I felt calm the rest of the night. I did not have the apple or tempt the serpent that would take its place. If I had started eating what was not planned I would have opened a door that needs to stay closed today. Grazing, picking, snacking off plan - these are deadly behaviors for me.

In keeping the pounds of I need to always remember: Feeling hungry and being hungry are not the same thing. How do you determine when your hunger is real and what helps you stay honest to your plan?



Julie said...

This is one of my biggest issues - it is not easy and something I am concious of every day. I eat a very limited range of foods. I like all of them and enjoy my meals because I am truly hungry when I eat them. I find sticking to meal times and eating only when sitting at a table helps me eliminate grazing and snacking while preparing or in between meals. Also when I `think' I am hungry I tell myself I can eat a carrot and only a carrot. I like carrots - they are crunchy and sweet and take time to eat - but they are not something that would ever lead to a binge for me. If I then think `no, I don't feel like that I feel like something else" then I know I am not hungry. Also I totally avoid eating certain things that I know I find hard to stop eating or that create cravings for other things. The initial period was a bit difficult but once through that I find I think less and less about eating those things. And I also remember I am not responsible for every thought that pops into my mind but I am responsible for how/if I act on that thought. Love that you have started a discussion on this topic :)

RedPanda said...

Good post. After dinner, I sometimes feel vaguely "snacky" and wander around looking in the kitchen cabinets and fridge, but I rarely eat anything - largely because there's usually nothing to eat.

A rule of thumb I read somewhere to distingish between real hunger and "feeling vaguely snacky" is "Are you hungry enough to eat a bowl of oranges?" I like orange juice in salad dressing and marinades, etc, so there are usually some in the fridge, but never want to eat one as a snack - except once when I was starving and there was nothing else to eat. I ate the orange, enjoyed it, and it sated my hunger, but it will be a long time before I eat one again.

Anyway, I think the orange metaphor is a good one - or substitute another food you usually have on hand, won't trigger a binge, and don't actually
dislike but wouldn't normally eat as a snack.

RedPanda said...

Heh. I was posting at the same time as Julie and we both essentially said the same thing. Orange, carrot - it's the same thing in this context.

bbubblyb said...

I think this is where the "intuitive eating" I was testing out lately really has helped me. I now give pause to when I want to eat and ask myself "am I hungry" and then I rate my hunger (or fullness) on a scale of 1 to 10. If I'm not in the right section of the scale to eat something then I really try to talk myself out of eating. It doesn't always work but it has helped me be more aware of when I eat when I know I'm not hungry. At first it made me want to eat anyway out of wanting to be rebellious but now I do often find myself making the decision to just pass on food.

I think the whole apple, carrot or orange thing is a good way too, picking healthy foods because generally when we eat when we really aren't hungry fruits and veggies usually aren't on the list of what we want.

Jane Cartelli said...

"orange, apple ~ we are all fruit" - a great line from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Carrots are another great item. Once I learned to enjoy them without dipping them into blue cheese dressing they became a healthy food.

When my daughters were young and they said they were hungry between meals I always told them to eat a banana. Now my youngest hates bananas. I guess I should have alternated the choice a little more often.


Julie said...

Like your daughter Jane I can't stand bananas, not even the smell of them! Here they have been so expensive since a cyclone (hurricane to you!) wiped out the crop a year ago that it has become a joke. You hear people poking fun at someone eating a banana that they are flaunting their wealth, a banana has become a symbol of real love if you give one to someone and last night one of my daughters slipped one into the shopping trolley and ate it on the way home so we didn't have to get everyone else one too!!!

Red Panda - I laughed at the similarity of our comments - same hemisphere, same thought process? What is it with the orange coloured foods? Hehehe

E. Jane said...

Distinguishing real hunger from "fidgety hunger" is very important. It often strikes after a meal, because I want "something sweet." Old habits do die hard. I try to have an afternoon snack and an evening snack, so that helps. The bing cherries from Trader Joe's and the watermelon have been lifesavers recently.

Jane Cartelli said...

Julie -
Are you in New Zealand? - I love bananas but they like me too much. I cannot have one every single day. They set off my sweet sense when I have them too often. I do not think any other fruit affects me that way.

Julie + Red Panda -
I have an orange food thing too. Actually I just have a think for orange. I have a collection of orange pocketbooks, orange clothing, orange jewelry and and orange phone. Okay, I am a freak.

bbubblyb - Intuitive eating helped me become more aware but has not helped me to slow down or suddenly be able to eat foods I cannot control. I really appreciate you sharing your experience with it in your blog because I want to hear from others how it works in their lives.

E. Jane -
Another blogger shared today that she found when she gave up her evening snack she actually found herself not wanting something at night anymore. These things do take time but you may find your results surprise you. One day at a time. I did not go from a 1/2 gallon of ice cream after 9pm each night to zero ice cream in one day - or even one year.


Julie said...

Jane I am in Australia :) And I also have everything in one colour but mine is pink. Even most of our kitchen utensils and dish towels are pink and I rarely cook! I have a very tolerant husband (well we've been married nearly 30 years so he must be!) who loves to cook. Yes I do realise how lucky I am and give thanks daily :)

Anonymous said...

Really really important and gratifying to recognize the difference while in the moment and have the strength to think it thru and follow it to its rational conclusion. SO important. I want to be there so badly.

I think I will take the cue of meditating or providing myself a break between stress times and eat time. A great idea I think.

Jane Cartelli said...

Julie -
Your cooks, mine cleans after cooking. You and I eat. Sounds like we have perfect marriages.


Cenandra said...

This is a very good post and question! The fake hunger as I call it is horrible. That is when logically I have to think about everything I ate for the day and determine are you "really" hungry or it it your sugar addiction kicking in? Like you an apple is not what I want, I want something sweet.

Jane Cartelli said...

Something else I remembered: If I have a piece of gum after a meal and I'm out I chew and toss and do not look for anything else. But if I have it at home I start trolling for more once the flavor dies away. I stopped having gum at home a long time ago but I just remembered why.