Weight Loss Support - What are we really hungry for? Feb 16, 2002

02-16-2002, 11:02 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!

02-16-2002, 11:09 AM
Exercise 32: About Meals
For most of our lives, we’ve eaten at regulated mealtimes called breakfast, lunch and dinner. We even have specific times at which we think these meals should be eaten. However, these beliefs have little to do with our “bodies” need for food. Although it is our bodies that we are feeding, we let our minds decide what, when, and how much we will eat at any given time.

For the next two days, experiment with your hunger, eating only in response to your body, and not in response to your mind’s idea of when you should eat. You might eat twice one day and seven times the next.

I know that the thought of eating only when you are hungry might be frightening. Participants in workshops have said things like: “But what about my family? How will they eat?” and “If I ate ten times a day, people would notice and would judge me unfairly.”

Notice what your reactions are to not eating at meals. And then record them:
If I don’t eat at meals____________________________
If I don’t eat at meals____________________________
If I eat only when I want to eat____________________

Notice how you feel. Hesitation, or fear, of doing something differenct is natural. But it is not a sign to disregard the exercise. It is only a sign that you are about to do something new and that in so doing, you might precipitate change.

Do you connect certain feelings with mealtimes?
Do you want your hunger to fit into a schedule?
What do you think you would miss if you didn’t eat dinner tonight?

02-16-2002, 11:13 AM
Do you connect certain feelings with mealtimes? Not really – maybe? Fear, worry
Do you want your hunger to fit into a schedule? ? Yes, because that is when food is available. My lunch hour during the week is 1PM. I can’t go and eat lunch at noon because I am working at my desk. So if I don’t eat at this time I must wait for dinner. I know I can “snack on healthy things” but I am referring to meals. I think some of or a lot of this has to do with my “time management”. When I get home at 6PM I cook something to eat. Hungry or not…because if hunger doesn’t hit until 8:30PM who wants to be starting to cook then not to mention it interferes with the other things I do in the evenings. Cooking & clean up takes time. I also know I can have “fast” things to eat but then my mind gets into the “eating healthy” mode. I suppose this will all sort itself out as I work these exercises but……….

What do you think you would miss if you didn’t eat dinner tonight? Nothing. But, this piggy backs on my answer above. Out of shear exhaustion, a few months ago my schedule didn’t give me much time and the first time I would have time to relax or eat was 9PM. This is not a good time to eat and since I was so tired I would have maybe 5 to 10 Nacho Chips. I wasn’t hungry and although not maybe the most nutritious choice it satisfied me. After about a week to two weeks of this my mind was starting to fret over my health. Now, I didn’t FEEL the need to do anything different. I do know health wise this is not a recommendation on how to eat but it also made me wonder how much food do we really need each day? Because I have this weight issue I think I have bought into the idea that I need a certain amount of food each day to survive and that it is way more than I need.

This is an issue I have to work through because it causes me to eat more each day than I need.

Okay, enough rambling. I will be waiting for your answers.

02-16-2002, 11:26 AM
Please note I changed the name of the thread.

Instead of the date and number of times we have posted a thread I changed it to the exercise number we are on.

Some of the exercises don't really require a whole week of thought to respond to so I will sometimes post more than one exercise per week. With the exercise number as part of the thread name you will be able to see which one you are on.

02-16-2002, 06:42 PM
Do you connect certain feelings with mealtimes?

Yes. I feel happy that I have an excuse to eat, anything. Even my cooking.

Do you want your hunger to fit into a schedule?

With a full time job (teacher) and two small kids, I eat what and when I can. It all depends on the day, really. Hubby loves to eat out. I love to eat out too. (did I mention I'm not a good cook?) My son is allergic to milk and eggs, so a lot of creativity is involved with him. My daughter is a picky eater and eats everything with cheese. When I cook for them, I can't help but nibble, nibble, nibble. I've nibbled my way up to 160 lbs. You can say I eat out of convenience, as well as all the other horrible excuses. (boredom, dispair, it tastes good, I've had a bad day and I deserve it...)

What do you think you would miss if you didn’t eat dinner tonight?

My feeling of "Ya! It's dinner time! I can eat with an excuse" I'd probably end up eating something really bad later on if I didn't. I always get this overwelming feeling that I have to eat, hungry or not. No matter what. If I don't eat before I go to bed, depression hits me. Then I feel deprived. And I eat. It's a horrible cycle I wish I could overcome.


PS Great thread

02-16-2002, 07:32 PM
From the book The Solution

People who have solved their weight problem don’t eat much less junk food, fried food, or goodies than the rest of us. The difference is that instead of eating because of food’s effect as a mood elevator, calmer and distracter, they eat only when they’re hungry. Moreover, their drive is not to be sure they get enough food, but to be sure to avoid the feeling of having too much: tightness in the waist, frank indigestion and physical lethargy.

The second part of balanced eating involves honoring our bodies by obeying their signals of hunger and satisfaction. As long as you have prepared your body for weight loss by exercising, keeping busy and eating less, obeying these internal cues of hunger and satisfaction is the most accurate way to determine how much you should eat.

The skill of being sensitive and responsive to our hunger signals is at the heart of balanced eating. Of all the forces that detract from our ability to obey our hunger signals, emotions are the most potent. They easily overpower our biological drives. Why are they so powerful? Mainly because of the nature of emotions.

If our backlog of emotional trash is high and the stresses of the day are more than our skills can handle, our emotional hungers will prevail, and we keep on eating even though our body hunger is telling us to stop. It’s not that we don’t have body signals, but that in a shouting match between emotional hunger and body hunger, emotional hungers always win. We stop eating only when we can’t eat any more, when the food is all gone and when we’ve eaten as much as social constraints will allow.

I don't know why but this seems helpful to me. If this is true, that emotional hunger is such a strong driver it makes me feel less weak, less of a failure. Accepting emotional hunger as such allows me to be gentle with myself but with the knowledge I will have to be strong to control it and listen to my body.

02-16-2002, 09:09 PM
Do you connect certain feelings with mealtimes?

No. I haven't eaten "meals" for 20 years or so. But I do connect certain feelings with certain foods and eating occasions; e.g., it makes me feel happy to drink a slimfast in my car before I come into the house at night or it relaxes me to eat dry cereal while reading a mystery novel.

Do you want your hunger to fit into a schedule?

Yes, I would like to have a more structured approach to my grazing habits. I'd really like to eat only three times a day, but it doesn't work. Instead, I try to divide the 24-hour day into "zones" ... breakfast zone, lunch zone, dinner zone, and divide my calories into several small meals within those zones.

What do you think you would miss if you didn’t eat dinner tonight? Often I don't eat at night or I wait until after midnight, which is a new 24-hour day. I guess this question doesn't apply to me.

Re "people who have solved their weight problems," I'm not really sure there are any or that anyone has any reliable data to ascertain that. In the middle of the night there's an ASU women's studies class that I happened to have on last night. The topic was weight issues and the guest, a person with a weight problem, presented so much old and (in my opinion) inaccurate information to support her point that too much of society's energy was focused on weight and she basically dismissed the whole idea of wanting to lose as abnormal and impossible. I'm not sure WHAT I'm trying to say about this, except that I think there are too many conflicting points of view bandied about on the subject and not enough real facts.

Re emotional eating, I agree it is a very strong force, but IMO, it's as valid a reason to eat as any other. I believe that food and eating are by nature components of both our physical and emotional selves. Food is (IMO), meant to not only feed the body, but to serve ritualistic and psychological purposes. I don't think this is wrong, just something to be dealt with, because for some of us, it is much harder to fulfill emotional hunger than physical.

Sorry if I sound irritable! Just have a sinus headache. Have a great evening, everyone! :devil:

Cheekies Mom
02-16-2002, 09:45 PM
I love Geneen Roth, and have read a couple of her books.

About eating at regular mealtimes. I have to admit that I started a class this semester that runs from 11:30 am to 2:30 pm. I absolutely panicked. How was I going to eat my traditional salad at 1:00pm if I was stuck in a biology lab that whole time. After the first week of this, I relaxed, and changed my eating habits. I got up at 5:30, and didn't eat breakfast unless I was really stomach rumbling hungry. I found that a glass of orange juice and some coffee were fine, and that if I ate a well rounded "brunch" at 11:00 am in the cafeteria, I was satisfied until 3 or 4 pm. Then I would have a light snack, and dinner at the traditional 6:00pm.

I truly ate when I was physically hungry, not when the clock told me to. I found that I was more satisfied than ever. I also didn't binge eat late at night, because I hadn't been starving myself during the day.

This experience also made me realize that the diets I have been on in the past have conditioned me to be afraid of hunger. Consequently, the thought of hunger would panic me and I would over eat as a preventative.

Hunger is our friend, not our enemy. We don't need to run to the pantry the moment we feel the rumble either. Usually a true hunger pang will abate within about 15 to 20 minutes, and a glass of water can help calm the rumble long enough for us to make healthy choices in what we are going to eat.

02-16-2002, 10:03 PM
Crone: To quote you: I'd really like to eat only three times a day, but it doesn't work. Instead, I try to divide the 24-hour day into "zones" ... breakfast zone, lunch zone, dinner zone, and divide my calories into several small meals within those zones.

I love this idea...my thought was "what a genius"....
I think my brain would handle zones very nicely. BUT (isn't there always a but) what do you eat? I know I can use SlimFast but what else do you eat? I have to think of traveling food since I will have to take it to work. Any ideas are appreciated.

Cheekies Mom: thanks for posting. I find when I eat when hungry I don't eat as much also but I can't get those messages in my head to stop about when and what I should be eating. I guess I have to use some mind control!! I, like you, also keep trying to "prevent hunger" from occuring. What if there isn't any food around when I DO get hungry? I don't know where I learned to think this way but it's up to me to stop it.

02-16-2002, 10:32 PM
I hate being an emotional eater. When I eat something, and usually it isn't the best choice, it's usually when the kids are fighting or extra demanding. I just want to scream, and the only thing that calms my nerves is shoving food in my mouth. And a lot of it. It's an impulse I can't control worth anything. And I have tried for years to control it. I don't like raw veggies or fruit, so I grab yummy food, like chips. Once I have something salty, I have to have something sweet. GRRRRR!!!

My life is so complicated right now, with teaching first grade and coming home to a 2 year old and a 4 year old, I'm tense all the time and never relax. When I put a forbidden food in my mouth, my worries go away, for awhile. It helps for the moment. My body knows that and I keep doing it over and over. I call myself a food addict and I truely believe I am one. When I'm sitting on the couch debating with myself if I should go in the kitchen to make a yummy PBand J sandwich, I cannot talk myself out of it. Why does it have to be so powerful? If my body knows it isn't hungry at all, why does it tell me I need the 3 pieces of chocolate cake? (that I didn't really want to buy, but talked myself into thinking it's really what I deserve). I really do hate myself for making me this way. I'm like the crack addict that needs another high. I cannot make myself eat the right foods at the right times in the right amount. I'm out of control and I want to stop! All I think about is losing weight. I'm obsessed with this whole thing and wish I were more in control and not out of control.


PS. I do exercise when possible, walking is theraputic and helps me relax. But because of my schedule and the kids, time is limited. If my husband is available to watch the kids, I walk from 6-7pm. If he isn't, but the weather is just right, I take my 2 year old. My almost 5 year old hates the stroller and is too slow to walk with. I really hate to miss my walk because it just gives me another hour in the day to eat. And from 6-7pm is my big binging hour. (besides dinner time; a major stress time. I shove the food in!) I can control a lot of the rest of the night.

02-17-2002, 03:33 PM
LLB: My food choices are really bad sometimes, so I WON'T go into all of my "depression meals" (one is two cans of vanilla slimfast and a Hershey's Cookies 'n Creme bar)! :D

But sometimes when traveling I stop at a convenience store and get something like:

1) A lowfat cheesestick or small bottle of lowfat milk or yogurt; fruit.
2) Milk or orange juice; graham crackers.
3) Plain hot dog on a bun; lowfat milk.


From a grocery store, I can get things like:
1) Small bottle of lowfat milk (soy, dairy or kefir if available); fruit.
2) Pita bread; hummus; individual carton of applesauce from deli usually.
3) Pita bread; Nutella (spread thin, but it is actually nutritious).
4) Crispex cereal (for snacking dry)
5) Individual boxes of raisins, mix one with one cup of Kashi Good Friends cereal, carry this in single serving size plastic bags or bowls to snack on; bottle of lowfat milk.
6) Single serving of lowfat cottage cheese and cherry tomatoes (I like lots of red pepper with this); plum or apricot (just buy one).
7) Ready to eat roasted chicken breast (or thigh or drumstick if one insists) in single or two-serving packages (usually is branded Tyson); piece of fruit; small carton of lowfat milk or juice. If you have an Old Dog like mine, you have to throw out all the chicken packaging before she gets in the car the next time, though!


Convenience Food: I keep small entrees that I make in single-serving sizes in the freezer with the calorie count written on. One is the tuna casserole I posted on the food thread we had awhile back. It's just Velveeta Shells & Cheese, only add water pack tuna, mushrooms, grated carrots, tomatoes or whatever and ONLY USE HALF OR LESS OF THE PACKAGE OF CHEESE SAUCE. That works for all those packaged dinners, as they put in way too much cheese and other fat stuff. Also never add butter or oil to these, add some extra vegetables and/or water or something.

I also make muffins using low calorie/low fat versions of package directions or with All Bran, adding raisins and/or other extra fruit or carrots. I freeze these and microwave. For a mini-meal, I might eat two with a tablespoon of diet butter and a cup of cottage cheese.

Hmmm. Since I started eating meat, I've divided one-pound packages of Laura's Lean Beef into four patties and frozen (140 calories). I freeze packages of buns (look for the lowest calorie count, as buns vary widely, mine are 110 calories), then broil a frozen patty and toast the bun. I eat this w/Worcestershire Sauce only (no calories), no toppings, but I'm weird. I've done the same thing with Ballpark Lite Hot Dogs (80 calories), buns (110 calories), but I use hot dog relish (20 calories).

Salmon (broiled) is also a healthy, low calorie base for a mini meal. The fat is very healthy so no worries there. I've been known to slice a tomato and eat half with the salmon and plain rice with broccoli.

A more normal person than me would have a small salad or piece of fruit with the above meat thingies, but I usually have a glass of Diet V-8 Splash (10 calories).

I sometimes keep a carton of those little Hostess (or other) donuts (four equals 230 calories) in the freezer to prevent donut cravings in the middle of the night. This is risky and I'm not always up to the task of having only four, but usually I can do it and it keeps me from climbing the walls for lack of something sweet. A healthy minded person (not me) would eat only two with a piece of fruit, cutting fruit and donuts into bite size pieces and maybe drink some lowfat milk also.

Sometimes I do cut up an apple into pieces to eat with one or two ounces of any kind of lower fat cheese (not no-fat cheese, though; I hate that). It's a good way to satisfy a desire for cheese but the apple takes the place of another piece.

Lately (since the meat) I've been experimenting with those little packages of grocery store deli meat (160 calories each). I've thought of eating these with an apple and cheese, but the only thing I've really done is rolled the slices up with lowfat cream cheese and mustard and eaten with cherry tomatoes. If you added an 80-calorie roll to this, plus V-8 Splash, it could pass for a mini meal.

Some people use those diet-brand frozen entrees or dinners or bowls as the bases for mini meals. I've tried 'em but they are usually too spicy for me. Also, I eat enough preservatives with the slimfast! :)

This could just go on forever as I remind myself that I do know other things to eat than slimfast and candy! Thanks, LLB!

Really, the mini meal thing is the best idea for me and I think at my advanced age it helps keep my metabolism moving. For those who eat three squares and want to eat more often, the whole idea is just to divide the three squares up into six smaller squares and eat within the breakfast zone, lunch zone, and dinner zone.

And I'm well into the lunch zone and ready to eat as we speak.

02-17-2002, 03:49 PM
HeidiL: "I really hate to miss my walk because it just gives me another hour in the day to eat. And from 6-7 pm is my big binging hour. (besides dinner time; a major stress time. I shove the food in!) I can control a lot of the rest of the night."

Heidi: You've hit on a major, major point about one often-overlooked benefit of exercise that bears repeating! :)

For me, too, exercise can often short-circuit the desire to binge. When it's exercise time, we give ourselves permission to stop and breathe and feel our physical bodies and just remember that beneath all the stress we are ALIVE (and that's the main thing, right?). I know for me, it can take the place of shoveling food into my mouth, which by necessity soon makes me stop and focus on my physical being and the state of being alive (because I get full, sick and/or fat).

I've read in several places that studies have shown people who exercise regularly tend to choose healthier lifestyles in other ways, too. As if the act of focusing on one aspect of health gives us permission to let go of stress long enough to focus on something else for our well-being, too.

02-17-2002, 04:54 PM
Crone: Thanks for posting "I've read in several places that studies have shown people who exercise regularly tend to choose healthier lifestyles in other ways, too."

I have been looking for all the motivation I can to exercise and I really like this one.