Eat when you are hungry. Stop when you are (80%) full.
I have had an interesting couple of weeks learning my hunger cues. And before I say any more, let me also say that I realise what a privilege that is. Not all of us can choose to go hungry for several hours just to explore what it feels like. I am very fortunate.
The first thing I noticed, however, is that I had a lot of fear around being hungry. Specifically, I was anxious that I would get hungry –really hungry– and not be able to get to food. The fear was so intense, I wondered if perhaps I had actually experienced just that as a child.
And, of course, it happened almost right away. Sort of.
Thursday morning, I woke up at 8am and decided to delay breakfast until I was actually hungry. I had my physiotherapy appointment at 11:15. Sure enough, at about 10:30, I felt serious rumblings. But there was absolutely no time to prepare and eat anything, especially if I was going to follow the secret to weight loss #1, so I stuck a Larabar in my purse and off I went.
So, I’m sitting on a bench like bed, back propped up with pillows, my ankle wrapped in a hot towel and it’s happily buzzing away with “stim.” I’m reading my book…and there they are. Hunger pangs. They are gathering strength and frequency, distracting me from my novel. On a scale of 1 to 10, my hunger growled it was about an 8 or 9. Fortunately, my purse wasn’t too far away. I really wanted to eat a proper meal, so I just nibbled the Larabar until I felt about a 4 or 5. I ate about 1/2 of it. That was at about 11:30am.
That held me for a surprisingly long time.–of what I thought, then, was a surprisingly long time. I didn’t eat “breakfast” until 1:30pm or so. I was sure to eat my scrambled eggs with wilted spinach and melted feta slowly and mindfully.
I didn’t realise how good I had it last week.
On the weekend, I decided I would truly wait for hunger to strike before I ate. My longest period so far is 19 hours. But I’ve had at least three other episodes of waiting at least 12 hours for hunger to kick in. Needless to say, I have not eaten much in the past few days!
Waiting to eat sucks. I hadn’t realised how much I love to eat. I mean, I knew I comforted and calmed myself with food. Food stepped into that job full-time eight years ago when I stopped relying on cigarettes. That’s emotional eating of one kind. But another is eating simply for the pleasure of chewing and tasting the food in front of you. Yes, I am a foodie. I bet that’s no surprise to anyone! But it means that my meals are important to me. And I miss my meals! A little snack of mindless candy munching at 4pm means I am still waiting for my hunger to cue me to have my supper at 8:30pm. Everyone else ate hours ago.
Eating –when, where, how much– was something I took for granted. I planned suppers to include enough left overs for lunches the next day. I always made sure I had a healthy snack (or two) with me at work. I even pre-prepared some mason jar salads for my lunches on the weekend. The fridge is bursting with food.
Now, I have no idea when I will eat, how much, what it will be, and it could be anywhere– in my car, at physio, at work, or at home. It’s unsettling. And I’m freezing.
- I am so blessed I get to figure this out. Not eating is my choice, thank God.
- I am losing weight. The scales are dropping. Cold and fatigue are “normal” side effects of burning fat for fuel.
- I can create more of an appetite with exercise–or maybe just being outside in the fresh air is what does it. But I have noticed that I was hungry after a walk in the brisk cold air. (Of course, it was five hours after the last meal, so maybe that’s normal.) But who knows what’s normal, anymore?