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Are we afraid to be hungry?

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Old 08-09-2009, 11:26 AM   #1
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Hi all!
There was an interesting thread on the board earlier which made me do some self-reflection. The thread involved hunger and our monthly cycle. And it got me thinking...

Are we AFRAID to feel hungry? And has this contributed to our weight issues?

I know that for my normal-weighted DH, there are times that he feels hungry and says "dinner is in a couple of hours, so I'll hold off". Whereas my Dear SIL-God Love Her, will immediately eat if she feels a pang of hunger. It is almost as though she is AFRAID to feel hunger, and interprets every pang of hunger as an emergency. She also has a weight issue. I know I USED to feed every pang of hunger in the past, but now I am trying to think like a normal-weighted person and IF I feel hungry, I'll hold off until the next meal. I'm also working under the theory that it is possible to retrain my body and mind to recognize mild hunger and ignore it as not EVERY hunger pang needs to be fed. I guess it is like exercise and discomfort vs pain -- not every exercise-related discomfort needs medication and rest, but significant pain needs to be addressed. But you have to be able to distinguish between the two. I think the same goes for hunger.

So I was wondering -- do we REALLY know what true hunger is? Are we afraid of feeling hungry? And maybe more importantly, can we accustom ourselves to the feeling and by doing so, be able to distinguish between hunger discomfort and true hunger that needs to be addressed?

Thoughts?

Kira

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Old 08-09-2009, 11:43 AM   #2
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Thank you for posting this. It is something that I need to deal with myself.

I'm working on drinking more water now. I once read that food has a high percentage of water in it. Maybe sometimes our bodies want water instead of food.
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Old 08-09-2009, 11:44 AM   #3
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I'm not sure I know what true hunger is. There's the "stomach growling" type and the "it's lunch time so let's eat" type but as for true hunger, I guess I've never experienced it. I do know at times if I haven't planned a snack I get REALLY crabby if my blood sugar gets out of whack. I guess I tend to also want to feed every pang of hunger but I never thought about fear.

Thanks for giving me something to think about today
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:24 PM   #4
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hmm. I don't think I'm "afraid" to feel hungry. Until I was on welbutrin, I frequently (4+ days a week) would have this unsettling feeling of gurgling through my stomach. This was not hunger and I knew it was not hunger but I felt compelled to eat to try to make it stop. Since being on the welbutrin, I have rarely 1-2xmonth have I had this feeling. I have not changed my diet so I don't think it is an allergy or food sensitivity response. I really feel that it is a biochemical inbalance - I have many other symptoms of an endocrine problem.

Going hand in hand with the gurgling, somedays I have the hand to mouth syndrome going on. Not really hungry but the complusion to put something in my mouth is very strong. Now days, I have found that cucumbers help significantly with this syndrome. No, doesn't taste as good as the chips or what not, but I get to continue to put food in my mouth and address that need. I also use gum alot more than I did.

Other times when not having the gurgling, I can and could just say no to the hunger feeling - meal x was right around the corner.
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:32 PM   #5
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Not me. I sometimes wish hunger was an issue for me but alas, my over eating has never been made worse by being hungry.

I don't deliberately go hungry but sometimes, when dieting, I enjoy the sensation (mildly) of being able to wait until the food's ready, rather than squishing the hunger down now.

It seems to me that if I only ate because I was hungry, I could find foods or bulk to control that. I (over) eat because I do, and that feels more complex than hunger eating. However, I do know that the other man's problems always look greener!
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:43 PM   #6
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I'd say my experience is opposite of Kira. I tended to put off eating until I was very hungry and then would eat too much. I now eat @ every 2-3 hours so I never get a chance to get hungry.
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:51 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by kiramira View Post
Are we AFRAID to feel hungry? And has this contributed to our weight issues?
.....
I guess it is like exercise and discomfort vs pain -- not every exercise-related discomfort needs medication and rest, but significant pain needs to be addressed. But you have to be able to distinguish between the two. I think the same goes for hunger.
Kira
just to throw it out there, just because a person is normal weight doesn't necessarily mean he/she doesn't have issues with eating (and/or his/her weight). the only reason I say this is because if you compare your eating habits to someone who's thin, you may be comparing yourself to someone who may have her own load of laundry to wash. (I'll add that my bf's family, all thin to extra thin, have so many issues around eating and food that I find it a little excruciating to eat with them.)

great q. it's like having lots of words for different types of snow.

I've gone through times when yes, I think I was actually scared to be hungry, and would eat as soon as I didn't feel completely full. That, to me, seems like a very emotional response.

I read a thread by a woman who posted that after losing some large amount of weight she became hypoglycemic, which I wasn't aware could happen. If I don't eat lunch early, I get that shaky low blood sugar feeling (doesn't happen with any other meal). That's another kind of hunger in a way.

then there's the "I'm not really hungry hungry, but I could nosh" hunger. that probably describes the husband eating apple before dinner scenario (or maybe that's more along the lines of low blood sugar). It describes me at night in front of the tv.

then there's the "yen for whatever" hunger, which is more of an urge than real hunger. that can be powerful, which is why those dang fast food commercials they play constantly at night can be so insidious. they put the image and thought in your brain, as a craving, an urge. someone was writing about those dessert/chocolate commercials with the women eating some dessert and moaning in absolute ecstasy (that puts the urge in your head, or at least in mine, which may just be proof of my over manipulability, heh heh)

I eat 3 meals and 3 snacks a day, which keeps my blood sugar level, usually, at a pretty even level. I do get hungrier sometimes. it's pretty rare I get ravishingly hungry (because of the small snacks -- apple and V8; banana; yogurt; glass of milk, etc.). Having eaten this way for quite a while, it also has redefined what it means for me to feel full. Being full, seems to me, to be the other important part of the q.

on diets I have had that feeling of I just can't feel full eating this, which is like saying "I feel deprived." I think there's a couple of layers to that idea, one which can be emotional (which it was for me), the other just wanting the physical feeling that I was used to thinking of as being full -- which in reality was being OVER full.

I've heard too, that people may be thirsty and confuse it with being hungry. I'm always drinking water, got into that habit from a young age when I joined WW as a teen.

another way to possibly think of hunger, when you're truly hungry, and you eat, it can be a real pleasure and make the food taste even better. I've had plenty of times in my life when food felt like the enemy. I have to eat, and I have to eat on a regular basis, and will have to eat on a regular basis for the rest of my life. I'm better off figuring out how to do that in the most positive way I can.
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:52 PM   #8
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I doubt that there is a one-size-fits all answer. I know that I'm not at all afraid of hunger, and never have been. It's an enemy I'm not afraid to fight, but anything I can do to decrease the size and power of that enemy is to my benefit.

For more than three decades, I only engaged the enemy with a front-on assault. I endured torturous hunger in order to lose weight. Not only food obsessions, but stomach rumbling, light headedness, feeling weak in the knees, mood swings. It took every ounce of willpower to choose to ignore hunger, to the point that I had to neglect almost every other aspect of my life, in order to lose weight. I could have a life or I could lose weight, and sometimes I chose having a life.

Finding the hormonal connection was a godsend, as was finding lower carb eating. If I restrict carbs enough, I have no physical desire to eat (sometimes at all). I can "forget" to eat, and the first recognizable hunger signal seems to be feeling weak and irritable rather than feeling any desire to eat. Food isn't the only thing on my mind, and in fact doesn't even rate the top ten. On a very high carb diet, I feel like a starved, caged animal, sometimes still feeling starved even after my stomach is obviously "full."

I never thought to fight hunger and cravings with anything BUT whiteknuckled willpower. Except with prescription appetite suppressant drugs, I never knew there was any other way to fight. Getting rid of hunger didn't seem to be an option, so I only fought it by trying to arm wrestle hunger/cravings. I was not afraid to feel hungry, but feeling starved 24/7 even after eating, eventually gets very old.

Finally, I've found ways to fight the enemy, not only head-on, but by weakening the enemy to make the fight easier. If lower carb eating and stacking bc weakens the enemy to the point that the battle is easier to win, I'm not ashamed to use that tool. All's fair in love and war, and this is war.

I'm not afraid of the enemy. Hunger and cravings have been so ever-present in my life that they've been the rule, not the exception. If I gave in to every pang I'd have weighed 500 lbs before adulthood. Since age 5, when I was put on my first diet, I've known hunger intimately, very often fighting with myself to stay in bed rather than give in. By age 8 I was a calorie-counting and diet book veteran (and first time Weight Watcher member).

I think that many people (even those who should know better, because they've experienced them) have many prejudices and stereotypes about overweight people that they firmly cling to, even when there's a great deal of evidence to the contrary. One of them is that fat people have no impulse control whatsoever.

There are no one-size-fits-all answers. If an inability to fight hunger is your problem, you have two choices making yourself stronger, or making your opponent weaker. You'll probably need to find ways to do both.
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Old 08-09-2009, 12:54 PM   #9
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I have always been a grazer but I don't think it was because I am/was afraid. It's mainly a habit that I have had since I was a kid.

Being unsure of my hunger signals was the reason I wound up going to counting points and not being on core. At first I was able to tell my hunger signals but the longer I was on it I really wasn't sure if I was hungry or not.
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:04 PM   #10
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I think I am a little afraid of that hungry feeling. As soon as I start to feel it I need to eat something. I mean even the slightest twinge. I don't know if it is fear of going out of control if I am hungry or what.

I remember being on a road trip with DH and our kids once and I asked him when we were going to stop for dinner and he said when we stopped for the night - hours from then. I said "But I am starting to get hungry now." He said "Well so what, you're not going to die from it." Not in a mean way, just that he couldn't understand the problem. In his world you get hungry, you eat at the next meal or when it is convenient. You don't have to stop everything and eat just because you are hungry.

I think, with me, it has a lot to do with the fact that I have over-eaten (and been over-weight) since childhood. For many, many years I never felt hunger. Never. Even now I sometimes eat dinner before DH gets home because I am starting to get hungry. I carry a protein bar in my purse for "emergencies". That is how I actually think of it.

In the Beck Diet Solution one of the exercises is to go most of the day (I don't remember exactly) without eating and evaluating your hunger and your response to it every hour. I never did it, but it might be a good thing to read again and try.
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:05 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by dragonwoman64 View Post
just to throw it out there, just because a person is normal weight doesn't necessarily mean he/she doesn't have issues with eating (and/or his/her weight).
OK just to clarify -- of COURSE there are many normal-weighted people who have food issues and EDs and food taboos and food rituals and so on and I'm not suggesting anyone emulate a disordered eating behaviour REGARDLESS of his/her weight.

My general intent was to suggest that IF you act in the same way that an average individual with a normal weight who has no eating disorders, then you may in time find that you can redefine yourself in those terms. Rather than hanging on to the concept that "I was fat therefore I will constantly have to fight my biology and fat-enabling thinking patterns". I personally am thinking outside the box and outside of my long-held personal definition by suggesting that if I emulate the habits that I see in my DH (normal weight, hasn't changed pant size since he graduated University in 1987, no food taboos, no food issues), I may actually conquor this weight issue of mine in the long term. If I want to be of a normal weight, I should act and think like a normal weighted person (who has no EDs nor food taboos nor food rituals blah blah blah). I want to redefine myself!

Which is where this question stemmed from -- if I accept hunger as a normal part of my life from time to time, will it allow me to distinguish between transient hunger and hunger that must be fed? Just a question that has a deeply personal answer. I was just looking for what y'alls experiences were.



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Old 08-09-2009, 01:19 PM   #12
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I didn't mean for that to sound like anything against what you were saying, sorry if it did, I'm coming from a place where so many of the thin people around me have such weird problems around food. I feel like I have a hard time thinking of anyone I know whom I feel approaches eating and weight in a "non-disordered" way (and I put that in quotes bec I'm not necessarily saying they have disorders, sometimes just mild to severe hang ups). And since I'm trying to figure out all these things about my own eating and weight, it makes it difficult for me to deal with sometimes.

I mentioned the hypoglycemia, but reading your post, kaplod, I can see where physical issues, and what you're eating can throw the whole hunger/full dynamic out of whack.
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:30 PM   #13
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I didn't read all through here so sorry if I repeat something already said...

but I can relate to the OP point in a big way. I didn't used to freak out about being hungry, but then I got kind of eating disordered, and I wouldnl't eat at all for a week at a time. Then my heart would start to beat funny, and I could feel it flip flopping in my chest, it was terrifying, so I would eat out of a fear that i was killing myself or something.

Fast forward to now. I eat at 12, 4, 7, 9 and 11. I eat breakfast at 12, which is big enough to tide me over till 4, then I exercise, then I have a snack at 7, exercise some more, have a snack at 9, and then eat dinner at 11 (bf works late, so my schedule is kind of wonky) Anyhow, I think that a fear of hunger due to the bad things I've done to my body in the past could be to blame for my NEVER wanting to be hungry.

I rarely am, and if I allow myself to get VERY hungry, I get evil, crabby, cranky, I will bite your head off, maybe it's low blood sugar I don't know, bf is the same way. You do NOT want to be around us if we're REALLY truly hungry!
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Old 08-09-2009, 01:31 PM   #14
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I hear you, Ms Dragon...my mom is very thin (5 ft nothing and 110 lbs) and has the most bizarre and disordered approach to food and weight. My mom lost a huge amount of weight by eating three eggs a day. Thats it, thats all. She did that for months. And then the standard of thinness that we were subjected to was visual -- if we couldn't count our ribs or see our pelvic bones jutting out, we were FAT in her opinion. I think I gained alot of weight because I was AFRAID I was emulating her! I have a friend with a really nice figure who has the wackiest approach to eating -- she's a vegetarian (which isn't wacky at all) BUT is a junk food addict and eats it without making sure the junk food is vegetarian-friendly! She'll eat 3 chocolate bars a day and that's IT! The next day, a bag of chips, two cans of soda, and a stir fry. The next day, a bag of gummy worms, a bag of twizzlers, a can of soda, and a salad....NOT so good, IMHO!

So I get where you are coming from, cause it is scary to see these types of eating behaviours around us!



Kira

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Old 08-09-2009, 01:31 PM   #15
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I'd say my experience is opposite of Kira. I tended to put off eating until I was very hungry and then would eat too much. I now eat @ every 2-3 hours so I never get a chance to get hungry.
^ I've experienced this issue as well ^

As far as the mistaking thirst for hunger thing. That's never happened to me. I've tried many time to just drink water when I'm hungry. I'll drink and drink until I have that gross water-belly feeling and my stomach hurts, but I'm still hungry.
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