Hunger, Uncomfortable Feelings and Figuring it Allllll Out
How do you handle Hunger? Do you feel almost frantic and anxious when hunger kicks up? Do you label being hungry as good or bad?
Hunger is a tricky topic for me.
I was recently listening to a podcast and the host said, "Most people don't have a good relationship with hunger." I personally never considered the thought that I might have a relationship with hunger. As far as I'm concerned I'd like to banish hunger to the ends of the earth and not have to deal with food, eating, grocery shopping, etc. ever again.
As a teenager and young adult in the 90's and early 2000's, the overall attitude of American culture about fat or large folk was that we were idiots who ate uncontrollably and needed to get our bodies under control. To do this, most of us went on super restrictive diets that were harmful to our bodies but promised us our dreams of a fit body, lots of money, attractive romantic partners, and we'd live happily ever after. There were several problems with these diets (besides the fact that everything wasn't magically solved post weight loss.. cause where was my harem of hot men and mountains of cash.. but I digress) and my biggest gripe was constantly being hungry... hungry when I woke up, hungry after I ate, hungry in the afternoon, hungry after dinner, hungry at 3AM... I think you get the idea.
I really hated hunger. When I was dieting, hunger wasn't a sweet whisper in my ear. No, hunger was an MF'in dragon about to rip the arm off of my oldest child to snack on and hold me over till to dinner.
Hunger, a normal body urge, became something to avoid and fear. I would exert olympian type discipline when on a diet and only eat what the diet told me to eat when, but when off said diet, I would do everything possible NOT to feel hunger. I didn't realize what I was telling myself about hunger, that it was bad, that hunger meant suffering, that I needed to deny a basic body function, that I couldn't trust my body.
So do we repair or heal our relationship with hunger? Well, I dunno. For me, the simple insight that: 1) a relationship with hunger was even a thing and 2) I had a shitty relationship with hunger, ironically changed my relationship to hunger. These realizations led me to look at how I reacted to, and the stories I told myself, around hunger. So when hunger kicks up now, I notice myself freaking out and the thoughts that come with. I try not to judge them, but I am still annoyed, and at the same time I tell myself "this was true in the past, but its not true now".
This has been especially tricky because I do have health and fitness goals. I have created my own personal eating plan, so my dieting mentality is already kicking up. My dieting critic reminds me often that I'm not trying hard enough, my food plan isn't restrictive enough, my food plan is too restrictive, who do I think I am that I know how to feed myself in a healthy way? It's pretty interesting the stories we tell ourselves repeatedly and throughout the day.
As I'm navigating my wellness plan, I've decided to throw hunger into the mix, meaning, most of the time I will only eat when I'm hungry. Absolutes are diet mentality and that doesn't work for me; therefore, I refuse to make it that I ONLY eat when I'm hungry.
Currently, I'm knee deep in this hunger-relationship-wellness-journey process. There is so much more going on in my head that I had no idea of, but this is what I wanted. I wanted to understand why I do what I do, why I live the way I do. All the chatter in my brain sucks, but at least I'm aware of it and can work on changing the script if I want to.
I am now aware how the stories I used to tell myself, about hunger, fed the destructive belief that I don't know how to take of myself and I need a guru to guide me to the mysteries of my body. What I'm realizing is that food, hunger, and my wellness journey are really about me getting to know myself, meeting myself where I am and not where I think I should be.
I'm not sure why its important to meet yourself where you are, but it feels authentic, honest and real. It feels as though, if I am in that space of realness, I'll make choices that are true for me, and maybe that's the point? Who knows. But I'd love to hear your thoughts on hunger, what type of relationship you have with hunger and how your own wellness journey is going. Send me a message on Instagram or e-mail me at email@example.com