Weight Loss Support - Hunger

View Full Version : Hunger

01-11-2006, 12:53 AM
As I was on the rowing machine today I was thinking about hunger (real hunger, not head hunger), and how we try to eat to maximize feelings of fullness... and how when we really cut calories, you just can't get around being hungry sometimes. There are lots of posts of the "I'm so hungry" variety, and believe me, I can relate.

But I suddenly thought, what's so bad about feeling hungry? It's not like I'm never going to eat again. Lots of people all over the world are hungry a lot of the time. They cope. I'm not going to drop dead if I'm hungry for a couple of hours! So maybe I can just ignore it. Just think if we fed our dogs every time they wanted to be fed! (24/7) We know it won't kill them to wait. (and perhaps the converse is also true).

So, I'm going to just try to ride it out more often.


01-11-2006, 02:12 AM
Sue, you make such a good point. Will it really kill us to wait? I don't think theres any real harm in waiting it out a bit. Usually when I feel those hunger pains coming on I drink a whole bottle of water just to be sure that it's not really thirst lol The only thing about waiting and ignoring the hunger, I find when I'm really really hungry thats when the bad foods somehow find thier way into my mouth lol But other than that, waiting really won't kill us, and like you said, it's not like we're never going to eat again lol

01-11-2006, 02:18 AM
Perhaps this is just me, but I don't think that one should have to feel hungry. I know that when I was trying to cut calories and was hungry I would end up binging, but now that I am eating slightly more calories I only feel hungry when my body is telling me that it is time to eat. I am still losing weight with eating slightly more calories but I don't feel like I'm constantly punishing myself.

Something that helped me with this was getting my BMR (Basil Metobolic Rate) tested. I realized that I had been trying to cut my calories to between 1200 and 1300 when my body needed 1880 just to keep basic body functions up! My body was starving which made it nearly impossible to not binge. Now I am eating right around 1800 (I talked to my doctor before going below my BMR) and couldn't be happier. I never feel hungry and I'm losing weight.

Just a thought for those who feel like they must be hungry to lose weight.

P.S. Those folks who are feeling hunger in other countries aren't doing it by choice or to lose weight, its because there isn't enough food, so that isn't really a valid argument for why you should suffer through feeling hunger. Sorry if this sounds rude, I don't mean it to, I just feel really strongly about this because the very ideas that you espouse have led me and many others astray so many times.

01-11-2006, 03:40 AM
I would agree - restricting and feeling hungry led me to failure in the past. Binging and then these terrible feelings of what was wrong with me that I didn't have the willpower to stick to a diet.

This time, I ate between 1500 and 1800 calories a day, concentrating on nutritious, whole foods and eating every 2 hours. I was rarely hungry (unless something freaky happened and I had to work late or something). If I were hungry, I ate, even if it was just a handful of dried apples or a yogurt. I never binged this go around, I don't think it's a coincidence!

We all have to find our own way to be successful, but being hungry wasn't pleasant, made me obsess about food and made me binge.

01-11-2006, 03:51 AM
For me, being hungry is a part of losing weight, plain and simple. If I eat to the point where I don't feel it, then I'm either maintaining or more likely gaining. Oh, I'm doing the things everyone says will stop eat. Eating high fiber, whole grains, fruits and veggies, and the like. But it just is a fact of life for me.

But that's ok. I've come to accept my hunger as a feedback device that my diet really is working. Looking at it this way, I can bear it. Also, I try not to let it to the point where I'm feeling like I'm out and out starving.

But having some hunger, part of the time? Yea, not the worse thing in the world.

01-11-2006, 07:57 AM
No offense taken, but I wasn't talking about people who don't have food or people who live in poverty, just people who aren't as focused on it as we are. I used to be a travel writer & have spent about four years in my adult life in Africa, Central America & Europe (not all for work!), and they're just not as obsessed as we are. They can go for a two hour car or plane ride without giving food a second thought, for example, whereas our impulse is to stock up as if we're going to a desert island. It's cultural, advertising driven, whatever.

Anyway, I'm not hungry that much, I eat pretty well, but I was more thinking about this for those occasions when I am in fact hungry, just to remind myself that perhaps it's okay to just wait a bit instead of thinking about it every minute.


01-11-2006, 10:04 AM
That is a very good point. It isn't going to harm you by not being full all the time. BUT...I don't think it's really a good idea to remain hungry. There's a difference between the nagging Western world mind set of 'My belly isn't full, time to eat' and true hunger pains. If you've eaten in the past 8 hours, you most likely aren't feeling true hunger.

Personally, I'm hypoglycemic, and I know alot of people are the same way, when real hunger kicks in I can't wait long to eat - unless, of course, I want to land myself in the ER for passing out from low blood sugar.

01-11-2006, 10:55 AM
For me, being hungry is a part of losing weight, plain and simple.
Me too, I'm used to it.

I never let myself get to the point where I'm completely famished (unless I'm out running my mother-in-law around for hours on end and don't get to eat lunch until after 2:00) but even then I don't let myself pig out on just anything. I'm careful about my choices, even when I'm "starved" and could eat a horse. I could be famished and standing in a McDonald's and WANT that Big Mac, but still choose a salad. It's just how I've 'trained' myself. Because I know if I cave and eat that Big Mac and fries, I'll be kicking myself the rest of the day. And it's just not worth it to me.

But sometimes, yes, I get hungry and I just deal with it until I can eat again. Usually I say to myself, "I'm really hungry, but I'll live."

01-11-2006, 10:59 AM
Personally, I'm hypoglycemic,
So am I. I used to have low blood sugar attacks quite a bit, until I started eating better. Every now and then I'll still have one (had a small one yesterday and just drank some juice) but it's not as often as it used to be.

But in the past I'd get them pretty bad and I could always tell they were coming on, I started getting the shakes. One time it happened in my car and I had to pull over.

01-11-2006, 11:50 AM
I think this is an interesting topic but, to a degree, difficult to discuss. Mainly because everybody has their own definition of true hunger making it hard to tell if we are on the same page.

When I first began losing weight I felt hungry all of the time and accepted that it would be that way for a while. Guess what? A while passed and I began to realize that what I was identifying as hunger was the sensation I had when I wasn't full. And not being full isn't the same as being hungry, and being hungry isn't the same as being famished. I had to really focus on how I felt before, during, and after meals to get it all figured out. It was a real lightbulb moment when I realized that I wasn't supposed to feel full all day long and that I need not be hungry for the sake of losing weight.

I agree with Suechef that it isn't going to hurt to ride hunger out for a bit. But, by that I mean there is no harm in my not eating at the very first pang of hunger. That doesn't mean I intend to allow myself to become overly hungry, just that feeding myself doesn't ALWAYS have to be my most immediate priority. For me, losing weight successfully and maintaining that weight loss has required adjusting my relationship with food. I've had to find a balance between keeping my eating habits on the front burner so that I don't fall back into old habits. But, I don't want to live in such a way that my every waking thought is of food and when I'm going to get to eat next - it is THAT way of thinking that made be obese in the first place.

01-11-2006, 12:28 PM
I'm with Lucky here ... as usual. :)

I agree that this is a subtle area. I DO agree with suechef that being hungry isn't the end of the world, but I also know that if I let myself get too hungry, or go hungry for too long, I'm setting myself up to overeat. My wiring as a compulsive overeater is part of that, so those who aren't wired that way may not have the same danger zone. Also, if I am tummy-growling hungry a LOT during the day, or seriously hungry for several days, that tells me -- based on my experience about myself -- that something's not working. Either my eating schedule is off (usually a result of being overly busy), or I'm not taking in enough calories to support my activity level.

So, for me, there are two central keys that help everyone be on the same page, as Lucky mentioned:

Don't be afraid of a little hunger. When I was overweight I thought being even a little hungry was just the worst thing in the world, and it's the primary thing I've seen that makes people dread controlling their intake. It won't kill you, I promise.
Be open to re-learning your body's signals. Most overweight people have lost touch with what it means to be merely satisfied rather than "full", and often they've lost touch with the subtle signals that the body needs food. I listen to my body, and I DO eat something if I can when I feel that drop in energy (that I had been ignorant of in my overweight days). But, I've also learned that I feel satisfied sooner than I used to realize, I just have to pay close enough attention and ignore the deafening voice that yells "KEEP EATING." As mentioned, I know the consequences of getting over-hungry, and what problems it may signal. I've LEARNED the difference between a little discomfort and "hmmm, I REALLY need to get something to eat." So, I have learned to judge each situation, paying attention to distinctions that had been obliterated in my overeating past.

One other observation -- like most people, when I started my plan I was not only dealing with head hunger but real physical hunger. I was going from eating probably 4000 calories a day on AVERAGE to 2000. Like most people, though, I stuck with it and soon that extreme hunger went away. As I lost weight, my program stepped me down to lower calorie levels over time. I'm now at 1200, but the reality is I probably eat 1300 or 1400 on average. I am just as satisfied at this level as I was at 2000 after my transition period. But, every time I dropped down to the next lower level, I went through the hunger all over again. It was just part of the deal, and I just had to learn to live with it. If I ramped up the exercise in a serious way, I would get hungrier for a while. I learned to determine whether it was a temporary adjustment or a signal that I needed to add a little more fuel. On top of that, I could be cruising along and suddenly one week go through a period of increased hunger. If I hadn't increased my activity, if nothing had changed in the way of illness or medication or anything else, I just had to chalk it up to my body recalibrating and live through it. It wasn't easy sometimes, especially when I was lying in bed trying to go to sleep and my stomach was rumbling, but sometimes you just have to hang on for a while and see how it all shakes out.

So, there are lots of variables, and you have to learn what's right for you. But, you have to be observant and you have to be willing to live through a little hunger in order to find out what's really going on and what's going to work best for you in the long run.

P.S. One thing that has been instrumental in me re-learning my body's signals and in learning to cope with minor hunger is having an eating schedule as suggested by my program. At first it was hard, and it sort of goes counter to the "eat only when you're hungry" rule that we think of as natural. Still, by sticking to a consistent schedule of eating something every 3 to 4 hours, I was able to tune into what my body was saying. I learned that "hungry" wasn't ravenous -- my body really did feel better after that little snack, even though I hadn't thought I was hungry. And by eating only a set amount of food at a set time, 15 minutes after a meal I learned that the voice that was telling me I needed more food had been lying. It really DOES take 15 or 20 minutes for your brain to get the message that the stomach has had enough food. I had always kept eating until my brain got the message rather than stopping when I'd had a reasonable portion. So, again, "hungry" is a slippery concept, and most overweight people need to learn how to redefine it in both directions.

01-11-2006, 12:32 PM

I totally agree with what you say about how in other countries people are less focused on food. I guess I misunderstood and thought you were talking about starving children in Africa, or something.

P.S. I am so jealous that you were able to explore the world as a travel writer. That sounds like the coolest job!

01-11-2006, 01:10 PM
Some people have been mentioning hypoglycemia, which I also suffer from. I found that once I began to eat more healthily, I experienced less problems from my hypoglycemia because I wasn't going through the sugar rush/ crash that I was used to. Sugar from fruit is still sugar (why did it take me so long to figure that out?)

01-11-2006, 02:04 PM
Let me ask a question.......

Do you eat when you arent hungry? The reason Im asking is that I ate breakfast this morning around 9:30. I had 1 pack of oatmeal, a small banana and some orange juice. It is now 1 pm and Im am not hungry at all. Do I need to eat something in order to keep from binging later or just wait and see how I feel?

01-11-2006, 02:12 PM
I find too that if I am really hungry and I'm going to eat something I haven't planned, I think a long time about what I really want. If I am going to have a snack, than it had better be exactly what I'm craving. Often what I really want is unavailable or I don't have the energy to make it, so I avoid some snacking by trying to be really picky about it. It doesn't always work, but stopping and thinking delays me a little at least.

01-11-2006, 02:49 PM
Let me ask a question.......

Do you eat when you arent hungry?
Yes, sometimes. But only breakfast. The reason I eat when I'm not hungry is because I eat breakfast every day whether I'm hungry or not. A huge obstacle I had to overcome in order to change my lifestyle. Because I never used to eat breakfast, ever. There are some mornings I have to literally choke down my food. And for the mornings where I can't even LOOK at food, I keep low sugar Slimfast and low sugar Carnation Instant Breakfast around so I can get SOME form of nutrition without actually having to eat.

But throughout the rest of the day? No, I never eat if I'm not hungry.

01-11-2006, 03:11 PM
Anita, if it were me I'd eat a little something, at least 100 calories or so and preferably with some protein. Again, I had to TRAIN my body and my mind to understand that a little food every few hours is preferable to infrequent feeding of large quantities. The feeling you are interpreting as "not hungry" now may seem like "hmmm I need a little fuel" in the future if you've gone through this kind of reprogramming. It's hard to say from the outside, but regardless I do know that eating something every 3 to 4 hours, keeps your metabolism revved and your blood sugar levels less spikey. Both of these factors are important not only to weight loss but general health.

01-11-2006, 03:57 PM
I do try to eat every few hours, even if I'm not quite hungry yet. For all of the reasons mentioned by funniegrrl but also because of my schedule. It is just easier for me to have the structure of a routine. And if I put off a meal or snack I may not be in a position to eat it once I finally am hungry. On the other hand, if I happen to have one of those glorious days when my time is my own I may very well eat when I'm hungry rather than per a schedule. Also, I've come to realize when postponing a meal might lead to overeating later on. If I feel that is going to be the case then I ALWAYS get a little something.

Typically, if it is time to eat but I'm not quite ready I'll go for something like a handful of almonds and little cottage cheese - anything that is nutrient dense but not particularly filling.

01-11-2006, 04:26 PM
Thanks so much.

I went for a walk with the kids. Once I got home, I was hungry so I ate a salad and had a little bacon in it.