Weight Loss Support - I want to learn to find strength, joy and pleasure in feeling hungry

06-27-2011, 01:42 PM
I have been trying to find a way to, dare I say it, enjoy the feeling of an empty stomach. If I can cultivate that, it would be easier to to cut calories.

In the past, I have imagined Ms. Pacman eating away at my backside when I've felt hunger. I "let her" have away at it for two full sets of hunger pangs before I went to eat something. It used to work, but for some reason, hunger lingers more now unless I've had a really big meal. I wish I could eat the portion I allow for myself and then be able to sit with the residual hunger that remains. I've tried to do that and let an hour or two go by to let the food digest and get my blood sugar back up to turn the hunger switch off. But that seems to be harder and harder to do.

I drink water, but it goes right through me. I drink green tea, coffee...same results. I have cut carbs and increased proteins. I just feel hungry!

So, the only thing left, I think, is to embrace it and learn to love it and find pleasure and joy in it. Anybody got any ideas in how to do this?

Lori Bell
06-27-2011, 01:51 PM
NO! I'm starving right now and counting down the minutes until lunch time....10 minutes to go! Nothing helps my hunger except food! :)

06-27-2011, 02:00 PM
Eventually it won't be so bad, your tummy will shrink.

I do IF so I deal with being kinda hungry all the way till 2-3 pm! Water doesn't help me either.. The only thing that really works is doing something.. When I get busy at work I forget about it. On my days off I go to the gym and my hungry pains disappear! Try cleaning your house, reading 3fc ^.^, going for a walk. But it will get better, I promise!

Also, maybe you're just simply not eating enough if it's super bad.. Maybe look at your diet plan, and see if you can change anything to make your belly full longer =)

06-27-2011, 02:11 PM
I do IF as well. I'm actually just fine until around 3 pm. I use an eating window that lasts till 9 pm. But I can easily eat my current BMR of 2060 calories during that time.

I have PCOS and am a type 2 diabetic (not on meds), so I've had to cut carbs. I'm also perimenopausal. Losing weight is very slow and difficult for me. I eat a lot of veggies, lean proteins, and I keep it really clean and unprocessed. I am trying to break below 300 lbs but my challenges with hunger don't help me stop eating when I hit 1560 calories. I try to keep my meal to 1260, factoring in that I may snack my way up from there.

Somedays I do well, which is why I'm still losing weight, albeit very slowly. But I just want to learn to not feel so much anxiety about being hungry, so I can just sit with it when I know I've already eaten enough. I am NOT in danger of starving myself or developing a new eating disorder. I'm a Greek woman, afterall. Genetically predisposed to a life committed to food!

06-27-2011, 02:36 PM
How long have you been cutting out the carbs? I found that this really helped with keeping hunger in check.

Other tricks - gardening, exercising and sugar free mints or cinnamon discs.

06-27-2011, 02:40 PM
Hunger is your body's way of telling you that you need fuel. Fill yourself up with the really good fiber-filled dark green veggies to make your meal larger. I am partial to braised kale and steamed spinach.

06-27-2011, 02:57 PM
I actually cut all refined carbs from my diet about five years ago when I was first diagnosed with diabetes. It's how I've managed it all this time. A little over a year ago I discovered I have a soy allergy, so I had to eliminate everything that included soy. This meant nearly all baked products got cut from my diet.

In the last three months, I have switched to a Paleolithic-style diet and have cut all grains and legumes as well as nearly all processed foods. All my carbs come from non-starchy vegetable sources. I am a huge spinach and kale fan and I eat a lot of veggies.

I'm not starving myself. But I can feel hungry even if I've had 2200 calories in a day. I gained weight by eating a lot of food. I can easily put away 3000+ calories in a day without even trying. I've lost over 50 lbs by keeping calories below 2100.

I'm doing Pilates five days a week, plus a little weight training and rowing. I don't exercise for endless hours, so there's no need to eat huge portions of food to compensate. I have a desk job. I'm busy all day.

I just want to learn how to find some peace with hunger, because I think I'm going to be plagued with it for a long time. And I'm not going to lose any more weight until I get on top of this struggle.

06-27-2011, 03:19 PM
I've been dieting for 40 years, and when I was a teen, I tried to do this (see hunger as a great thing), it resulted in severe headaches, nausea, lightheadedness and several times I actually passed out and frequently came close. I couldn't exercise at all for fear of passing out (not a good thing).

I've never succeeded with "embracing hunger." I've also never succeeded very well with "intuitive" eating. Either the distinction between false and true hunger is too subtle for me to grasp, or I was born with or through dieting have acquired a faulty hunger system.

I've had the most luck with small, frequent meals, that are high in fiber, low in calories, include a fair amount of protein and are moderately low-carb.

I don't though eat to what I formerly thought of as satisfied. My satisfied now isn't full, or even disinterested in more food. It's "barely-not hungry."
At first I missed the feeling of fullness after a meal, but eventually I learned it hadn't been fullness, but overfullness. Keeping me never full, but also never severely hungry, has really been wonderful.

I still have problems controlling some foods, but that's a seperate issue to deal with.

On the plus side, eating very small meals has shrunk my stomach, tremendously. I used to eat three piled-up platefuls of food at a buffet without blinking. Now one "picky" plateful is plenty and more will make me sick (by picky plateful, I mean that I pretend I am picky like my youngest sister and don't let any food touch, leaving a 1/2 to 1 inch border around each food).

For most of my life, I waited until I was too hungry to eat. I was always afraid that once I started eating, I would never stop, so I would eat my first meal at 2 or 3 in the afternoon, and I'd feel starved for the rest of the day, mo natter how much I ate. Even when I ate until my stomach hurt, I would still feel starved, like something terrible would happen if I stopped eating.

I've learned it was probably the blood sugar and insulin spikes and drops. Keeping blood sugar constant helps prevent the irrational hunger I experienced for most of my life (I also have severe PMDD and my birth control helps preven me from getting the mood swings and "rabid hunger" TOM tends to bring. I don't think I could lose weight without controlling TOM hunger). My "rabid" hunger and moodswings inspired hubby to call me werewolf (and he wasn't too far off).

Hunger isn't the enemy, but it isn't a friend either. You probably don't have to be hungry if you're eating foods high in fiber and water. I know you said that liquids don't fill you up - but they don't fill most people up. Pure liquids empty from your stomach much faster than solids and semi-solid foods. Foods that contain water and fiber (like fruits and vegetables) stay in your stomach longer and even after they leave the stomach keep you full longer.

I always thought hunger had to be everpresent to experience weight loss. I was surprised to learn that it doesn't have to be. I experience less hunger than I did at my highest weight. It's kind of sad that I was hungriest at my fattest. Finding ways to be less hungry has made weight loss a lot easier.

06-27-2011, 03:40 PM
How I wish I could do this, but I have issues that you probably don't have, Georgia. That is, that I went through a cycle of eating disorders, years ago, which began with my overrestricting while dieting & becoming anorectic for about 18 months. During that time, I was constantly hungry, proud of never giving into my hunger & even exultant about how my mind had triumphed over my body. I was such a tough girl. I knew I'd never be fat again.

Until the effort exhausted me utterly, left my willpower spent, and I started bingeing with the same insane intensity with which I'd refused to eat.

Anyway, I got help. That's in the past.

When I set out on a more sane weight loss effort a few years ago, motivated by health concerns, one of my promises to myself was that I would never let myself go hungry. There wasn't going to be any more testing of my will. If I got really hungry, I'd eat.

This is not your situation, but I'm telling you about it as someone who doesn't think she'd ever find joy or pleasure in it. I like feeling I've got an appetite, which justifies eating, gives it a purpose, but I'd not be inclined to linger in that phase for long.

06-27-2011, 04:22 PM
I've tried that, but I find that it just makes me focus too much on hunger and think too much about food and weight loss. It also leads to what kaplods described, where I wait TOO long and then I shovel anything and everything into my mouth once I finally let myself eat.

Yes, I need to be hungry sometimes to lose weight right now, but I do best if I just ignore it. I don't let myself look at recipes or plan meals except for WHILE I'm eating. During the hungriest part of my day (about 4-6 in the evening) I usually don't even come to these forums or think about weight or anything at all.

06-27-2011, 04:27 PM
Thank you, Kaplods. Once again, your posts are both informative and insightful!

I have gone the route of small, more-frequent meals but that only fed my obsession with eating. I really want to get away from how important food was made to be in my life. Keeping the food choices simple and healthy, and limiting my eating times to when I'm actually hungry seems to work well enough. I seem to need more protein, because when I cut to below 80 gm, the hunger really ramps up. I do well with carbs lower than 80 gm.

I think perhaps part of the problem is about how much I'm eating when I do eat. I know that when I eat a lot, like at Thanksgiving, it takes quite some time to get my appetite back down. It's the level of stomach acid that's been in production that I need to dial back. I overate yesterday at brunch, and that didn't help me at all! Today, I'm struggling with physical stomach issues but am managing to avoid the kitchen because I don't really feel somatic hunger.

Smaller-than-usual, not-too-frequent meals...I think that's what I'm shooting for. I've been taking Ceylon cinnamon caps to deal with rollicking blood sugar levels. I'm not sure how well that's working for me because I haven't tested in a year. I know I'm eating plenty of juicy and fiberous vegetables. I guess I'm still working on cutting volume.

Thanks for helping me work this out in my head!

Saef, I think every big woman has wished they could turn into an anorexic for just until they lost all the excess weight. I've been in an outpatient eating disorder program in the past and while I was in it for compulsive overeating, I met some anorexic women and can honestly say I don't care to go there. Ever. I think what I need to cultivate is not willpower. I think what I need is to do is find the eudonic reward in not eating past my caloric limits and sitting with hunger on occasion and being okay with it. Like at this moment, I feel empty, but not hungry. I had a cup of coffee and found it satisfying. And I feel free to go about my business and not have to think about eating (even though I'm spending time writing about it!) I wish I could hang on to how I'm feeling now. But once I start eating in three hours...can you picture piranha fish in the Amazon River happening upon a cow? That's how I'm going to feel!

06-27-2011, 04:34 PM
I find that eating more often helps. Smaller meals/snacks, more often... helps curb my hunger for big portions. If I go too long without eating, I am definitely more likely to eat WAY more than I need to. So don't starve yourself. I truly think you will do more harm than good.

06-27-2011, 09:03 PM
Okay, it's nearly 5 pm. I have had 707 calories so far today, most within the last 90 minutes. Included lots of veggies with fiber, healthy fat and very lean protein. I ate over an hour ago. And I'm struggling with hunger. I wasn't really hungry before I ate, but I'm really hungry now. I feel quite edgy. I feel like I could eat a whole lot more. My stomach is gurgling.

That's what I have trouble getting past. All the physical signs of hunger are really there and I want to eat. But I ate a generous lunch just an hour ago and my blood sugar should be back up and keeping me from feeling hungry now. So I have to figure out a way to accept that this is how I feel during this time of day and that even though I ate very adequately and healthfully, my body isn't recognizing that. And I need to ignor this somehow and wait another hour or two before I have dinner.

I wish I could alter this by eating small meals more frequently, and having breakfast first thing in the morning. But it doesn't matter when I start eating, or how much. This is what my body does every afternoon. I used to mindlessly feed it to make it shut up. That's how I gained 170 lbs. I have to ignore it in order to lose it all. I'm not starving myself, not even close.

Seared scallops with braised cabbage and kale and a couple slices of fried polenta for dinner. See, I eat well. But I'm still going to be hungry afterward.

06-27-2011, 09:51 PM
Im back into the mode of being at peace with hunger. My history includes struggling with binge eating disorder, so at various times and with various success I have been able to find that peace!

Usually I just try to rationalize with myself - "hey self, yes you are hungry, but its bedtime now and its reasonable to be a little hungry before dinner so I am not digesting all night. thanks for the update self, breakfast is going to taste extra delicious from anticipation!" :)

Hunger is actually a very complex mechanism that can get a bit out of whack...meaning it doesnt *always* signal a need for more food.

One of the controlling factors in hunger is related to intake of appropriate amino acids. You may want to make sure you are getting all of the essentials. And consider eating foods rich in:
Silicon (nuts, seed)
Tryptophan (Cheese, liver, lamb, raisins, sweet potato, spinach
Tyrosine (Vit C - citrus or any fruits and veggies high in Vit C)

Obviously hydration is important, which you mentioned.

And I find a general mindful living approach helps. When I feel overwhelmed by hunger, but am not in need of more fuel, I try to either do 2m of deep breathing or this exercise a therapist taught me called "stoppage method".
1. Deep breath in
2. Exhale and say aloud "Letting go, letting go"
3. Snap fingers, stop heels, do something physical

Seems silly and simple, but I find 10m later Im usually "hey - stopped thinking about xyz".

Couple other suggestions:
- walk for 5m after meals, aids digestion and might help your body know its fuller sooner.
- distraction! I often give myself tasks (l can eat xyz after I run to the Walgreens to buy toothpaste), and then checkin after the task to see if I still want food. Often I am ok after just a distraction for ~30m.
- practice makes perfect. the more you do it, the easier it will become :)

06-27-2011, 09:53 PM
What you're saying doesn't make sense (unless you meant 1707 calories, not 707).

You say you're not starving yourself, but eating most of your calories within 90 minutes of 5pm and still coming to only 700 calories is surprisingly low. You did say lunch, so I'm assuming you mean you still have dinner left. If you were planning to eat 1800 calories today (which is about the minimum I can eat and be free of an unpleasant degree of hunger. If I eat super low-carb, I can get by on 1500) that would mean you had at least 1100 calories left to spend for dinner, or dinner and a snack.

For me, 700 calories by 4pm is not adequate and healthy for my body. At 700 calories by 4pm, I would be experiencing not only stomach hunger, I would have an intense, pounding headache, a foul temper, and possibly even dizziness (and I'm not an early riser, I usually don't get out of bed until at least 10am). On 700 calories, I wouldn't have the energy for the bare basics of my day, let alone some additional exercise.

Even if you choose to only have three meals per day and no snacks, you probably still would feel less hunger (and more consistent energy) if you spaced your meals more evenly throughout the day, and spaced the calories more evenly between the meals.

I'm not a breakfast eater either. I'm usually too nauseous in the morning (side effect of medications or going 8 hours without medication), so for me breakfast is my smallest meal and usually timed around 2-3 hours after I get up.

The reason I chose several small meals, is that I have read that the very act of digestion, raises your metabolism for about an hour after your meal. So, if you eat only one meal, you only get that metabolic benefit once during your day. If you eat the same calories spread out over several meals, you get that metabolic boost more often. I don't know how much of a metabolic boost it gives me (if any, the articles I read could ber wrong) but it definitely keeps hunger at bay, and keeps my energy level constant, so I've stuck with it.

Frankly, though I can't imagine eating fewer than 1000 calories by 4pm. I wouldn't have the energy to do much except think about food, and I'd not only be miserable, my poor husband and any other human on the planet would be wise to run for cover too (when my blood sugar drops, I get meaner than an ol' snapping turtle).

You can distribute your calories and choose you're calorie level as you want to, but it seems to me that you're setting yourself up for the kind of hunger that is very difficult to resist (let alone find strength, joy, and pleasure in).

In the past, when I tried to distribute my calories as you're describing (and I often did), I would always eventually go off the diet, because it was so miserable I couldn't stand it anymore. Giving up felt like the sanest option, because I'd made my life more miserable dieting than fat alone ever could. Being fat and ok with it, seemed saner than facing the mood swings (especially the anger, and social conflicts that caused), the headaches, the dizziness...

Good luck with whatever you choose, but please don't make weight loss more work and pain for yourself than it has to be. Consider trying to distribute your daily calories more evenly, and seeing how that works for you. You might be surprised.

06-27-2011, 10:16 PM
Sorry, for your height and weight you simply are not eating enough. I don't think it's healthy and can't see how this can be sustained over time.

06-28-2011, 05:19 AM
Eat more vegetables.
The best solution to get your stomach full and keep your calories on the bottom.
Lettuce has only 20 calories per 100gram!!! That is like a huge tower of lettuce. Cucumbers, pickled cucumbers, spinach, cabbage... so many ultre light choices to stuff the stomach if you're in pain.
Just put a spoon full of olive oil on top and a tomato for flavor and you have a real filler.

I eat a big salad every day. And yes I used to hate "rabbit food", but you know after six months of doing it half-forced I like it now. I can't go without.

Another way to deal with hunger when you just can change it is this: Just rationalise it. It is an ancient instinct that kept our ancestors alive, but almost useless in our time of plenty. You will NOT die from hunger since you are overweight as long as you eat your basic metabolism's needs in calories.
You will eat again in the future when YOU choose not your stomach.
Appreciate hunger as what it is: A life-line to keep lean people healthy, an old evolutionary tool, a way to see that you are indeed eating less than what your heavier body wants to eat.

Imo keep everything in moderation. Find a ballance with anything above 1100 calories per day. Remember if you're excersizing raise your calories or else you will burn your muscle away and not your fat