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The desire to eat when you're not hungry

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Old 05-28-2010, 07:09 PM   #1
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Default The desire to eat when you're not hungry

Can anyone explain this phenomenon to me and tell me how to make it stop?

Right now I really want to eat...I don't know why I'm not hungry at all, but I want to eat. I'm not stressed out except by the fact that I want to eat, I'm not hungry and I don't have any room left in my plan today for any additional snacks. I'm not sad, angry or any other food relatated eating emotion. The only thing I am is a little tired, not sure why I went to be early last night. I want to know what this happens because it happens to me quite often, TOM or not it will happen.
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Old 05-28-2010, 08:14 PM   #2
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It's not a phenomenon, you're giving the feeling way too much credibility and power and discounting yours. Put your foot down, make a decision. That's all it is...a decision. Chug water until you're full when the feeling springs upon you. Have you possibly cut down or been slacking on your exercise (as in getting your heart rate up, not just basic walking)? Exercise is a great appetite suppressant. Also, since you're tired, what do your average meals and calories/carbs/proteins, etc. for the day look like? I suspect you may have to fine tune a bit. You're so close to your true goal. It's been a long, hard road for you, you could be experiencing burnout and disinterest in the same ole, same ole. Time to pep it up and make it interesting again.
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Old 05-28-2010, 09:16 PM   #3
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There are many components to hunger. Some of them are psychological, and some of them are physiological. For most of my life I thought psychological components were the most important factor (that it was all "mind over matter).

It's taken me more than three decades, but I've recently learned that the physiological factors were a lot stronger than I realized, and I have to consider them. One of them for me, is carb-content. If I eat too many carbohydrates (even healthy ones like whole grains and fruit), I have more problems with hunger and appetite. I also often get "hungry" when I'm tired - a nap or going to bed early works as well as a snack.

I'd recommend you keep a food journal (or go over it, if you keep one, looking for patterns). Do you get the hungry-but-no-hungry on days when you skip a meal or don't spread out your meals more evenly? Is it on days when you don't get enough rest? Do you need a nap instead of food? Is it after eating certain foods or flavors? Some people find better hunger control when they watch their carb intake. Some food flavors (the fat/salt/sugar combination that David Kessler talks about in his book "End of Overeating.")

I'm not telling you that you need to eat low-carb, but if you know that high-carb foods do trigger cravings/hunger, you're at least prepared, and can decide whether to reduce the carb content to make things easier on yourself, or to be forewarned that some foods trigger more cravings and you've got to exert that willpower with a greater force of will.


Of course, you can also white knuckle it and just power through, but if it happens often, the additional tricks can make a big difference.
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:21 AM   #4
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I went to jenny craig and they have you take a test to see why you overeat, and mine was awful! I eat when I'm stressed, I eat when I'm bored, I eat mindlessly, I eat socially. They told me pretty much all I do it eat
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Old 05-29-2010, 10:51 AM   #5
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There are many reasons why people eat when they are not hungry- it's usually because of some underlying emotion (boredom, fear, loneliness). You have to evaluate your own life to find that emotion that triggers you to eat when you don't need to.

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Old 05-29-2010, 10:54 AM   #6
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I got this strategy from Dr. Beck's first book. I write this down every day in my journal so when I am wanting to eat food but, not really hungry I have something to help me get through it.

I've done it in mnemonics (remembering something with letters to make a word or cues)

ISNIR (it's a little word I can say in my head and then elaborate on each letter and what it means)

I - Identify as craving or desire - you are feeling uncomfortable - but, eating it is NOT an emergency,
S - Stand firm and if/when you get through you will strengthen your reserve
N - No choice - the hardest part of a craving or desire to eat is the anxiety you feel when you want to eat it - you don't think you can get through it. But you can. Give yourself no choice.
I - Imagine how bad you'll feel after eating it.
R - Remember why you want to do this.

The Five D's - Distance, Distractions, Drink Water, Deep Breathing, Destroy the food (last resort). (I usually cover it with dishwashing liquid)

These things are helpful when I am willing to use them. By the time I go through all this (ISNIR) - often the urge to eat is gone.

As to why...I guess we are just 'eaters'...that's what we do. It's hard to know exactly why. (stress, life, happy, sad, transition, boredom, anxiety, pain, emotions, occaisons etc) That's how we live - so, it takes work to not eat when it's what we do. But, possible, with working on it.

Congrats on your wonderful weight loss! Clearly you've figured out a lot of things. I think wanting to eat compulsively - is hard to let go of.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:08 AM   #7
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It is a tough thing to deal with for sure. I find that I get the munchies in the late afternoon and in the evening when I'm watching TV or just having general down time. What I did was try to switch my schedule up a bit... specifically for after dinner. I let myself do whatever I want for about an hour after dinner to digest, and then I do a decent workout... by the time I'm done with that, I don't want to ruin my hard work. And usually I'll budget 200 or so calories for a snack at night so I don't feel deprived... because I just really like eating at night. But if I feel like eating one snack will lead to a huge detour then I will typically make myself wait. If you can wait it out, that's most of the battle in my experience.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:32 AM   #8
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Wow I wish I had an answer for you...cuz if I did I would have an answer for me. Although for me it is more than a desire it is more like a COMPULSION. Great comments here...thanks for starting this thread.
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Old 05-29-2010, 11:35 AM   #9
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actually i get this all the time..

what i found out was...

1. not enough water, drank alot - made it go away
2. took tums, found out it was heart burn
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Old 05-29-2010, 01:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DhaniCauldwell View Post
There are many reasons why people eat when they are not hungry- it's usually because of some underlying emotion (boredom, fear, loneliness). You have to evaluate your own life to find that emotion that triggers you to eat when you don't need to.

Dhani

For over thirty years I believed this. I spent decades evalutating my life and trying to find the emotional triggers. I even chose psychology as my field of study because I wanted to figure myself out and fix me. A bachelor's degree and a master's degree in psychology later (and therapy for myself), and I wasn't any closer to controlling my hunger or my weight.

I finally discovered, though that the emotions weren't causing the hunger, the hunger was causing the emotions. Fixing the physiological, fixed the emotional.

When I stopped crash dieting - the severe binge eating stopped (almost "magically"). When I started taking birth control for PMDD (killer PMS) the TOM cravings/insane levels of hunger dropped dramatically. When I found low-carb eating, I found a way to virtually eliminate, or at least dramatically control hunger.

I don't think emotions are nearly as much to blame, as it's popular to assume. I think it can feel that way, because carbohydrates, especially in excess can trigger emotional responses (through the the release of serotonin and other biochemicals) - it's easy to blame the emotions, but it may not be true as often as we think.

I'm not discounting emotional eating, but I don't know that we can say that excessive hunger and/or cravings are "usually because of some underlying emotion." It's just as likely that the emotions are a result, not a cause of what you're eating.

Hubby and other close relatives are astonished and have remarked on the personality difference in me when I am eating sugar and other carbs and when I'm controlling my carb intake. On sugar (or high glycemic carbs that the body turns to sugar, such as breads), I get angry (and generally emotional) very easily. When I'm eating lower carb, I'm almost unflappable. Almost nothing can upset me. I feel more confident and in control of my life.


I never would have believed this, if I hadn't experienced it.
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Old 05-29-2010, 01:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kaplods View Post

Hubby and other close relatives are astonished and have remarked on the personality difference in me when I am eating sugar and other carbs and when I'm controlling my carb intake. On sugar (or high glycemic carbs that the body turns to sugar, such as breads), I get angry (and generally emotional) very easily. When I'm eating lower carb, I'm almost unflappable. Almost nothing can upset me. I feel more confident and in control of my life.

I never would have believed this, if I hadn't experienced it.
THAT is amazing. I've never thought about that kind of emotion of my note-taking-during-eating phase. But now that I think about it, it's always during my TOM when I crave (and give in to) the carbs so bad, and yeah, that whole emotional turmoil thing is wrapped up in it like a xmas morning present. I've always just assumed I get emotional BECAUSE of TOM, but maybe I'm emotional because of eating so many carbs due to TOM.

AMAZING.
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Old 05-30-2010, 12:53 AM   #12
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Well I do think that hormones play a big role even by themselves - but the foods that we tend to crave (because of the hormones) actually make the hormonal problems (and the emotions and cravings) even worse.

It's pretty much taken for granted now that hormones can cause emotional and hunger issues. This wasn't always true. PMS was once largely thought to be "hysterical" or psychosomatic rather than physical. Women were told they were "over-reacting," and Freud thought it was all "penis envy."

I recently had to change birth control (due to insurance coverage issues - Medicare stopped covering the bc I found most helpful). It isn't as effective in controlling my PMDD issues (severe cramping - wish-I-would-die cramping, severe husband-calls-me-a-werewolf hunger and mood swings....)

The new birth control doesn't help those symptoms nearly as much, so I have to willpower through the carb cravings (and the desire to wring my husband's neck), but it's still a lot better than when I was on no birth control. And if I can stay away from the carbs, I'm only mildly "wolfy," and hubby doesn't seem quite as much a jerk.

Another thing I crave during TOM (besides chocolate and fatty carbs) is red meat. I do eat more red meat during TOM and it seems to be ok for my weight loss, though if I overeat red meat, it seems to make the cramps worse (maybe because red meat is said to be an inflammatory food - I do take an extra dose of fish oil and try to eat more fish during PMS/TOM and that seems to help).

It's just amazing to me that all these behaviors I was taught to think were caused by "emotional and mental problems," were actually more physiological in nature.

It's almost incomprehensible. I've had to "unlearn" so much to find success. I spent nearly four decades looking for mental and emotional issues, ignoring the physiological ones.

It's why I cringe when people say that believing in physiological factors "gives" a person excuses to stay fat (the same was once said about emotional and mental factors). I don't think excuses find people, people find excuses.

When I first started considering the possibility that physiological (and perhaps even genetic) factors were playing a role in my obesity - it didn't inspire me to give up. It inspired me to work harder, because the difficulties made more sense. I wasn't crazy, lazy, or stupid - I just had to change my tactics.

When I thought it was mostly emotional/mental - I tried to mostly mental strategies (white-knuckled willpower). When I began thinking it was possibly physiological, I started using physiological strategies.

I never would have tried low-carb when I thought it was mostly mental, because I thought all I needed was more willpower. I never imagined there were ways to reduce the need for willpower.
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Old 05-30-2010, 01:09 AM   #13
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I am the same way. I have never found the answer really but I have decided that I am in charge not my feelings. I have made the decision that I will not eat. So I do whatever it takes...something to keep my hands busy, read my Bible or an inspirational book, pray or just go to bed...so I won't give in to my desire to eat when I know I'm not hungry.
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Old 05-30-2010, 10:13 PM   #14
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hi,
Are you eating things you enjoy and are you satisfied after meals and snacks? I don't mean satisfied, like full, I mean satisfied, like "oh yeah, I really enjoyed that".

If a person eats meals and snacks but not the ones they really want and enjoy, I think it sets you up for head hunger/cravings/binges later on. I know for a fact that when I eat a totally OP lunch that I am not quite "into", I am wanting to graze on something else shortly after. I think my brain is seeking that "satisfaction" that I didn't get from the meal. So, now I try to take a minute to ask myself, "what sounds really good?" and it helps a lot.

And, when in doubt, have a coffee and a piece of gum or sf candy.
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