Chicks in Control - IE - Eliminating the FEAR of hunger

03-11-2014, 11:20 AM
This was brought up in one of the other threads but I didn't want to derail it so I decided to start a different one.

Whenever I began practicing IE, one of the significant things I learned about myself is that I had a real, debilitating fear of hunger.

Looking back on my dieting behavior, I can relate my obsession over planning (and spacing) my meals on my various "diets" back to my fear of being hungry, particularly at the end of the day. Underneath all the planning, calorie-counting madness that I participated in was my extreme effort to insure that I would not be hungry when it was time for bed. I could handle some hunger during the day but go to bed HUNGRY??? Unacceptable.

Yet often I did indeed go to bed hungry. Why? Because I'd already eaten my allotment of calories, points, carbs, whatever.

I would do what I like to call "preventative" eating. I might not be hungry, but if I eat this apple at 3:00 pm (an apple I had absolutely NO desire to eat) then maybe, just maybe I might not be quite so hungry when I sit down and eat my salad, 4 oz of grilled chicken and broccoli that I had planned out for dinner.

This, all in an attempt to control my hunger.

And it rarely worked, because often I was still hungry. Really, truly physically hungry. And if not physically hungry, I almost always had a desire for another food not on the approved food list that would have no doubt quelled the hunger AND the craving for that particular food, resulting in me being satisfied and not ultimately eating all kinds of other "good" food in an attempt to NOT eat that "forbidden" food.

I look back on all this now and realize how insane it was.

Now that I'm practicing IE I have zero fear of hunger. I can function even when pretty hungry because I know that when I finally eat I can eat whatever I want and as much as I want to get me to a no longer hungry state.

This allows me to not give food a second thought until I have a chance to eat, and then I can order or prepare whatever it is that I want to eat at that particular moment (which might be completely different from what I thought I wanted when I first started getting hungry).

My crippling fear of hunger is no doubt why any diet I ever went on was doomed to failure, either in the short term or the long term.

Not hunger itself, but the fear of it.

It's the most important lesson I have personally learned so far on this journey.

03-11-2014, 03:26 PM
I had times in my life where I was afraid of hunger. And preventative eating, omg, I used to do that. I do NOT do that anymore, but I will tell you old habits die hard, because I find myself wanting to do it mostly before a party. "Eat before a party" they tell you, "so you won't be tempted there"...

Only I end up eating twice! Before the party and there because I *want* to eat the food being served. Its a party, and other people are eating. Its not like I'm parking myself at the snack table, but I'd like to have some of the lunch being offered.

I don't think one should be afraid of hunger, but I don't think "not fearing hunger" is synonymous with "not caring what one satisfies their hunger with". That's the point I was making on the other thread.

I do struggle with feeling that my meals should come from an old "approved foods" list. I say "old" because this list started forming in my teens, and its always in the back of my mind. However, I use my rational, educated part of my brain (the list resides in the paranoid obsessive part) to reason that just because something is not a safe food, doesn't mean its unhealthy.

My lunch today is a good example. The old internal voice says I should eat a protein and a veggie. Chicken or tuna, and carrots or steamed broccoli. But I realize if I don't eat something I want then I will not feel "satisfied" after lunch. I wont be hungry, but I'll still have this urge to look for something else. I know this from years of forcing myself to eat what I don't want because its good for me.
If I was practicing IE, I would have said that I wanted some of the chocolate hubby brought home from a work meeting last week. Because I have been avoiding sugar, while it sounds good, the overwhelming urge to eat it (binge) is gone, so it can sit there on the counter and not get eaten. Since I know for me IE means what does my inner child want, I know that I have to exercise some responsibility. So what sounds good that is still a nutritious responsible choice? I wanted cottage cheese with fresh pineapple. Now this has no meat, though cottage cheese is a good source of protein. But no veggies! And it has fruit which I eat, but sparingly. However this is what I wanted and I had to reason with myself that this IS a healthy choice, and thinking otherwise is the residual feelings from the old dieting me.

I'm definitely not after of hunger anymore. I look for healthy options I like. But I don't think hunger should be satisfied with whatever we want, but we should want what we satisfy our hunger with.

I think there is a big difference between two forms of IE: doing so within a healthy assortment of food, vs practicing IE with everything under the sun. I know everyone is different, but for me if I listen to my internal "hunger" with no though of what the food does for me, or eating nutritiously, my internal hunger is asking for muffins, cakes, ice cream, pizza, m&ms, French fries, donuts, etc more often than I know is healthy for a person to consume if they want to be where I want to be fitness wise.

03-11-2014, 06:57 PM
I kinda agree with this. I used snack immediately whenever I felt hunger, for me it wasn't about fear really. It was sort a vague dislike of feeling hungry and it was so easy to make it go away with a candy bar. But now I am more aware, I look at the time and if lunch or dinner is only an hour away I'll wait.

03-12-2014, 02:39 AM
I think there is a big difference between two forms of IE: doing so within a healthy assortment of food, vs practicing IE with everything under the sun. I know everyone is different, but for me if I listen to my internal "hunger" with no though of what the food does for me, or eating nutritiously, my internal hunger is asking for muffins, cakes, ice cream, pizza, m&ms, French fries, donuts, etc more often than I know is healthy for a person to consume if they want to be where I want to be fitness wise.

I'm also of the opinion that there is a difference between IE (eating when hungry, stopping when full) and non-restriction (eating whatever you want), though they're linked concepts. Nonetheless, from what I've read, the "official" IE book appears to consider the two concepts as one.

I don't know whether I've ever had a fear of hunger as such even in my strict restricting days.

At this stage, and I might have mentioned this before, I'd rather eat something I crave for than to eat something else to ease my hunger, so I will go out to buy that particular food. Sometimes though, I simply don't have the time or am just too lazy to go out or cook and in such cases, I'd rather go hungry than eat something I don't want. If I'm really starving, I'll eat something small. Is this IE per se, I don't know.

03-12-2014, 05:39 PM
Using phrases such as "responsible decisions" and "not feeling good about myself after I eat xyz" and "approved list of snacks/foods" makes me think of dieting. Of course, everyone knows that your body will perform better if you give it nutritious fuel than if you give it processed junk food. Nobody is arguing that. However when you find yourself in a situation where you're patting yourself on the back because you ate a salad then you can just as easily find yourself in a situation where you're thinking awful things about your own self because you ate a "bad" lunch.

Everyone approaches IE in a different manner I suppose, but I don't think of my cravings as my inner child at all!! As a matter of fact I feel like for the first time I'm treating myself like an adult finally. I'm not scolding myself every 3hrs over wanting to eat something. I'll be the first to admit that IE is pretty daunting, wow that's a lot of freedom, what will I do with all this freedom except go out and gorge? I've given myself permission to eat, but it hasn't actually led to gorging and binging. And as daunting as it seems, to me lifting all food bans sounds very exciting but it helps me deal with one of the issues that is the key to building a better relationship with food - and that is to create total indifference to the foods I choose. That means that I don't pat myself on the back when I don't eat, and it also means I don't punish myself with guilt if I eat something my "dieting self" wouldn't approve of. For the moment food is just food and nothing more. I want nothing to do with feeling like a responsible adult about it, or like a giddy child or anything like that. I also don't like to think of anything as a treat, I prefer to think of all my food as a treat that I can enjoy and not eat because I have to. And eating this way is proving to be really enjoyable because firstly I am less anxious around food, I am tasting my food in a new way and enjoying it more.

I guess I don't understand the concept of doing IE with only certain foods because that doesn't help me build the right relationship with those "trigger foods" so it's missing the whole point by making them something beyond what they are which is just food.

03-12-2014, 05:50 PM
SouthernMaven thanks for starting this thread, hunger is a very complex issue if you take into account all the things we perceive as hunger. Someone on another thread very eloquently said that it's easy to tolerate real physical hunger. But it's all the other stuff that is difficult to tolerate, the emotions that we put off by throwing them in the hunger box.

I am learning now what physical hunger feels like although I still have some ways to go with that. But the urge to eat is a separate issue, it has little to do with hunger. That is a very powerful urge that I've reinforced for over 20yrs and learning what to do at those moments is still beyond me! I really really really don't know what to do because I could swear up and down and on a bible that I'm hungry. I ask myself what am I feeling? And I don't know. Anger maybe, frustration mostly, and anxiety. And food is very effective in calming that voice down, only it comes back and never really gets satisfied hence, I'm 200lbs. So that's what I've perceived as hunger for so many years. What to do about it? I'm at a loss.