Weight Loss Support - What are we really hungry for? Feb 2nd, 2002

02-02-2002, 11:52 AM
Lose weight without dieting? HOW?!?!

By getting to the root of why you overeat in the first place! "Why Weight," written by Geneen Roth, is a non-diet book that contains exercises designed to help compulsive eaters learn how to stop using food as a substitute for handling difficult emotions or situations. You'll also learn how to enjoy eating and still lose weight naturally. This program offers reassuring guidelines on:

-- kicking the scale-watching habit forever
-- learning to say no
-- discovering other pleasures besides food
-- learning the difference between physical and emotional hunger
-- listening to and trusting your body's hunger and fullness signals

Each week at least one exercise will be posted and you are encouraged to share your answers, thoughts, etc..

Please share any insight, ideas, articles or other information that you may have.

Join us in Breaking Free from Compulsive Eating!

02-02-2002, 11:55 AM
Exercise 27: Feelings about Hunger

What do you think would happen if you ate only when you were physically hungry? Would you eat frequently? Rarely? Would you eat everything in sight?

If I only ate when I was hungry:

Exercise 28: Eating for the Hunger to Come

Hunger is a survival mechanism. We need to eat to live; our bodies will always let us know when they need food. After years of not listening to the voice of your hunger, I know it’s hard for you to believe that you’ll get hungry. But you will.

The first step is to wait until you actually get hungry. Most of us don’t experience hunger because we don’t wait long enough between meals to get hungry. We eat for the “hunger to come”. We’re afraid that if we’re going to be somewhere else for three hours, we might get hungry and be stranded some place without anything to eat…and then what would happen?

What would happen?

If I didn’t eat for the hunger to come I might:

Read over the list. Are any of these beliefs true? How do you know?

02-03-2002, 02:45 AM
1. Faint from lack of food.
2. Overeat when I do finally see food.
3. Inconvenience someone because I'll have to find something to eat at an awkward time.
4. Be able to judge more acurately what exactly my body needs.
5. be able to discern between hunger and thirst.

Chances are, unless I'm pregnant again, I won't faint from lack of food. Sometimes, I'll eat a snack before I work out, even if I'm not hungry, because I do tend to get dizzy during if I get hungry during, and it's incovenient to break out a sandwich during yoga. :lol: If I do eat pre-workout however, it is not usually a time that I overeat.

I do tend to eat too much and too poorly in terms of quality if I get really hungry before I eat. I guess I use that as a protection right now.

I hate to inconvenience people and tend to get embarassed if I have to admit I'm hungry in front of people (except say, my husband). I guess because I'm overweight, I feel like I don't have the right to be hungry, especially in public. I worry about what people think, and always imagine them saying "Oh yeah, like fatty over there is really hungry...she wouldn't know hunger if it hit her in the head". So if I do get hungry at a time when others aren't I tend to not say anything about it.

I'm sure if I consciously waited until I was hungry most of the time, I would be able to tell what fuel my body needed...whether that be fast fuel, or slower burning stuff. I'd also be able to begin to be aware of thirst versus hunger...something I can't always discern between.

02-03-2002, 11:31 AM
If I didn’t eat for the hunger to come I might:
1 Get a headache
2 Get weak
3 Binge when I did get food
4 Hunger scares me – “what if I die” – (maybe I starved to death in a past life :lol: )

Read over the list. Are any of these beliefs true? How do you know?

Yes, #1 is true because I DO get headaches. I rarely have felt the hunger in my stomach because I get my cue from my headache. I do remember reading once from someone “trying” to help people lose weight that if you get a headache because you haven’t eaten – take an aspirin. I have been doing that the past few weeks and, what a surprise, my headache goes away and I don’t get “stomach” hungry feelings.

I also have gotten the “shakes” when I don’t eat. I suppose it has something to do with blood sugar and I don’t really need a pizza or chocolate to survive.

Yes it has, in the past, set off a binge but logically, I guess I won’t die from hunger.

I have thought of this “dying” from not eating before but haven’t come up with any great revelation on the topic for me.

I do have one thing to say on the “wait for the hunger” theory. I, like most people, have a job. We only get certain times to eat. My lunch hour is at 1PM and even though I may not feel hungry at the time if I don’t eat then I have to wait until 7PM for my next opportunity. I know if I didn’t eat at 1PM by 4 or 5 I would have that “weak” feeling and would be heading for the candy machine. So, what do you all think of this wait for the hunger? I do see it’s important and I should know what hunger is but the way our lives are structured we can’t always do that. I do “wait” on the weekends but weekdays are

02-03-2002, 11:54 AM
I wrote a long reply to this last night but it wouldn't post, so here's the short version: :dizzy:

I advocate what members of 12-step programs call the HALT theory, e.g., never let yourself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. Experience tells me that if I wait for true hunger to strike, the forces of all four of those negative states would attack me because my blood sugar would drop too low and I would lose control over my thoughts, emotions and most of all my deep-seated psychological hunger. This all adds up to a binge as soon as I can get within sight of junk food or a 6-pack of vanilla slimfast in a can! :s:

Ecchs: You made two points that so resonated with me. Before I lost weight I had the same feeling about mentioning I was hungry or even eating in public. Then I'd go home and eat all night, feeling hurt and angry because I couldn't be like "THEM." In maintenance mode, though, I tend to enjoy eating in public or mentioning that I need to eat. My (unsolicited) advice to you is to stop feeling that way immediately and eat what you need to eat at whatever point you need to eat it to avoid building up a resentment or overcompensation hunger charge that will lead you to sabotage your own efforts! First, most people are too worried about their own thing to worry about what you are doing. Second, contradicting what I just said, many people DO make it their business to have opinions about what other people eat and DO judge our actions by our weight. You know what? S&** them! You are a beautiful person who does what is best for herself and is too smart to judge yourself by THEIR problems. ;)

You also said you had trouble distinguishing between thirst and hunger. I'm like that, too, and I suspect it is common. I've mentioned before a book I once read (wish I could remember the name) about a weight loss program at a university that taught people to recognize that people feel hunger in different ways and in different sites in the body (sometimes more than one). One of them is at the back of the throat and these kinds of people crave the sensation of cold, creamy, usually sweet, foods hitting that hunger spot (e.g., my vanilla slimfast in a can fixation). This type of hunger is often mistaken for thirst and vice versa. The program taught people to distinguish exactly what kind of hunger they were experiencing and to satisfy exactly that at the time it occurred, focusing heavily on their satisfaction and fully experiencing their sensations and stopping when they had fufilled their hunger. Some ways I fulfill the "thirst" hunger (besides the slimfast, which is not the best idea really) are with low calorie fruit drinks (very cold) or low fat soy or dairy milk or a low fat milkshake or smoothie just made with fruit whirred in a blender. Even cold water works in a pinch if you add some lemon juice or Crystal Light to it.

Anyway, sorry, I drifted into rambling. My answer to the question is that if I wait until I'm "hungry" I won't do as well as if I keep hunger at bay. And I do believe that for me, that is the truth.

02-03-2002, 08:39 PM
Hi All

Well, this is one that I've been working on for a long time. I had, 13 years ago, lost 30 pounds by only eating when I was hungry. It felt great! The problem was, that I thought then that I was immune and would never have a weight problem again. Away went the scales. Then, of course, life stress and trauma and etc. -- **** happens, as they say -- and I fell back on old habits, food-wise, without going back to the monitoring (scale) habit. And when I looked up againg I had gained 60 pounds (if not more). I'm at about 50 pounds up now and trying to get 60 off to goal.

So... I guess I feel like training myself to eat for hunger is really important, but I have to continue to monitor, because I can fool myself much much too easily.

If I only ate when I was hungry:

1) I would not be overweight. Eating for reasons other than hunger is what keeps the (considerable!) flesh on my bones.

2) I would address my real needs with appropriate responses, instead of trying to deal with everything through food. One thing that I continue to come back to is that: I have needs that are not being met. Because they are not being met, I turn to food --because it is so available, and an ingrained habit. If I ensure that my needs are met in the first place -- rest, entertainment, spiritual aspects, and etc. -- this would not be a factor. I am in such a pattern of thinking about what I HAVE to do, that I rarely think about what I WANT to do. I deny myself rest, fun, artistic expression and so on. And it isn't because I don't have time. I consistently waste time that I could use more productively and enjoyably. Then I end up having not enough time to do the things I need to get done. Then, being frustrated and depressed, I turn to good old reliable food. I intend to try to deal with this from the source -- see that my needs are met, to the best of my ability.

Exercise 28: Eating for the Hunger to Come
If I didn’t eat for the hunger to come I might:

1 Be hungry when the type of food I want to eat is not available -- end up eating junk because it's easy

2 Eat more often. I sometimes feel upset if I'm hungry when I didn't plan for it. You know, I have breakfast at 7:30 and then at 9:30 I'm hungry again and I think "Oh no -- I'm hungry already -- how can I keep my points/calories low enough." I have to learn to eat when I'm hungry without anguish. Some days are just hungrier than others. If we eat more on a hungry day, we eat less on a not-so-hungry day. I have to learn not to panic if I'm hungry when I didn't expect to be. to feed myself if I'm hungry.


I may edit more responses in later. Right now I want to talk about coping with this issue. I feel like it's important not to get too hungry, too. So I think that (and my recollection is that Roth addresses this) we need to always have something available that we can eat if we are hungry and it isn't convenient to have a meal. I used to keep soy bars in my purse for that reason. Now I work from home so it isn't as difficult, but i find that it's really helpful for me to have something in mind that I will eat if I get hungry.

LLB, I guess I'm talking to you. Try to take something to work with you that you can eat when the need hits (something that will nourish you more effectively than the candy vendor). When you get the headache, is it hours after you ate? Is it possible that you're failing to notice when you have stomach hunger? I feel a bit light-headed sometimes when I don't eat, but I usually feel hunger some time before that that I've ignored.

Crone, interesting about "eating to keep hunger at bay." I read an article by a dietician recently that said that we should do just that. She said that hunger comes in stages; before the actual stomach hunger there's a feeling that you want to eat. She said this probably happens because our foraging ancestors had to find their food before they could eat -- if they only started to look once they were hungry they would get weak and would not be able to look for food effectively. So we evolved with an "early warning system": when we get the pre-hunger signal (which she says is something we can learn to detect -- I'm getting there i think), we find food and then we can eat before we are starving. Someone else mentioned that they could choose the food they really needed more effectively before they were overly hungry. I think that's really true for me too.

Ecchs, I don't think we've met -- Welcome! I've posted here before but haven't for a while. I'm going to go back in and do the exercises that I've missed. Feel free to join me if you'd like -- there's a lot of good stuff; I know I saw some when I was lurking...

yeesh. I better get off here and do something else. Like sleep...

G'night all! :wave:


02-03-2002, 09:44 PM
Okay Babette you are scarying me...I thought I had posted your paragraph on "I have needs that are not being met." Everything you said is me too. I never have a problem with overeatting when I am having fun with other people but at the same time like to be alone. I just had a ba-bing moment....it's like you said - "I have needs that are not being met.' BUT I have to consistantly fulfill those needs for myself.

I also found foraging ancestors had to find their food before they could eat -- if they only started to look once they were hungry they would get weak and would not be able to look for food effectively. So we evolved with an "early warning system". extremely interesting. Thanks for posting that.
This might exlpain some of my other issues.

02-04-2002, 05:19 AM
Crone: Thanks for your comments! I've slowly been able to turn around the "embarrassed to say that I'm hungry in public" thing mainly because of when I was pregnant. At that point in my life, probably for the first time I can remember, I would be hit by this incredible need to eat...NOW! And at that point, I could not have cared less who took notice. Now being a nursing mommy, I often feel the same urgent hunger (especially if my little guy nurses a lot in a day) and I eat rather than worry about who is watching me do it.

Babette: Nice to meet you! I do want to work through some of the past posts...I was going to do them on my own, but maybe I'll post my responses here...


02-06-2002, 09:04 PM
I have been doing good this week.

AND realized I have had a bag of chocolate chips in my house for 2 weeks and haven't broken the bag open!!!!!!

I will use them next week to make cookies for my brothers family.

02-06-2002, 11:04 PM
Chocolate chips I can handle, but white chocolate (e.g., vanilla) in the house would send me over the edge. Good job, LLB! ;)

Mom2toBoys posted a food and exercise journal for the St. V. group (or anybody) and I typed in exactly what is in my handwritten journal, but it is more noticeable on the screen somehow that I'm addicted to vanilla. Even with the sugarless carb control shakes, I always reach for vanilla. I'm not sure why, since most people seem to prefer chocolate even if they like vanilla. It's not that I associate vanilla with anything special or any happy times as some people do chocolate. I wonder if this is just my nonconforming and perverse personality coming out or if there is an actual physical reason why people's trigger foods vary.

Since I am beginning to ramble, I shall go read a book!

02-07-2002, 01:16 PM
Just a quickie response:

I remember a study a while ago where people used vanilla aromatherapy to lose weight. When they had a craving they just SMELLED the vanilla and, they said, their cravings just went away. I need to find some good vanilla! Maybe some actual vanilla pods to keep in a jar...


02-07-2002, 10:42 PM
I love the smell of vanilla candles....worth at try...plus I get to enjoy the smell.....:p