14 Mar 2011

Honoring Hunger

Principle 2 of Intuitive Eating is Honoring Hunger which means you:

 'Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.'

Tribole and Resch say that the true Intuitive Eater, eats because their internal hunger signals tell them too as a general rule. Honoring your hunger is important because 'your body needs to know consistently that it will have access to food - that deprivation has halted forever. Otherwise, your body will be always on call, ready to advert self-imposed deprivation'.  They also point out that its much easier to stop eating (i.e. not to binge) when your body isn't in a state of deprivation and starvation.

They point out that dieters tend to eat according to external rules which can ultimately disconnect you from your hunger, and make it hard for you to identify it, so, on the path back to intuitive eating, I'll have to re-learn the ability I was born with: the ability to recognise normal hunger.  

Tribole and Resch encourage you to begin by listening to your body and checking in with it regularly to see how hungry you are. They advise measuring your hunger on a 'Hunger/Sataity Scale':

The Hunger and Satiety Scale

0 Weak with hunger.
You are so hungry that you may not even feel it, but rather be head-achy and faint.

1 Famished.
Too hungry. This is the fist-banging stage when you’ll eat anything.

2 Hungry.
The perfect time to eat, when the food tastes delicious, but you’re not so hungry that you’re indiscriminate.

3 Mildly hungry.
Something light would suffice, or you could stand to wait another hour for the desire to develop more fully.

4 On the way to being satisfied.During a meal, you are in the pleasant stage of enjoying the food but you are not yet satisfied.
5 Satisfied. The perfect time (according to your stomach) to stop eating. You are sated.
6 A little fuller than "satisfied."
A few bites past "5," due to the momentum of eating. The food seems less delicious, more plastic.

7 Very full.
Beginning to be uncomfortable.

8 Painfully full.
9 And so on.

Your ultimate aim is to most of the time eat when your body tells you (at "2") and stop when your body tells you (at "5"). You might have some fears about trusting your body to tell you what it needs. Take some time to write about your feelings. Over time, the practice you get checking in with yourself will make this process easier.

I thought this would be easy, but I was very wrong. I'm actually finding it much harder to work out when I'm hungry-but-not-ravenous than I thought, probably because I'm so used to ignoring/suppressing that type of hunger if it doesn't fit in with my rigid eating timetable (I used to religiously plan when I would eat and what, day by day, and panic when something got in the way of that timetable.) I've also been very distrustful of hunger (because I've been so paranoid and scared of mistaking other feelings for hunger and therefore eating unnecessarily) and this habit  no doubt is making it harder for me to acknowledge hurger now. But even just over the course of a day, I find myself getting better and better at 'hearing' hunger.

I should point out that, eating when your hungry doesn't mean being inflexible or never eating for other reasons. Tribole and Resch say 'It's important to realise that normal eaters don't always eat from pure hunger, yet they maintain their weight.' Other valid reasons include: 1. the occassion calls for it (e.g. birthday cake); 2. something looks/tastes good and it's there; 3. Planning ahead/anticipating things (e.g. eating before a tough work out or eating lunch now because you know you have classes later); 4. emotional hunger - it's normal to eat for emotional reasons occassionally.

1 comment:

  1. I like this :)
    I tend to put off meals/snacks for long periods of time and then when I do eat it's really light. When I finally get my hands on a high-cal option, I binge. Why? Because my body wants it :/
    So I'm trying to do the intuitive thing, too. Hope it works!