Hunger is my friend. No, I’m not insane.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Here’s a basic fact that I’ve learned about myself: if I’m hungry I’m hungry, and I must feed my body. I have learned to listen to my body, and in thinking back to my pre-weight loss days, I have to say that I don’t recall feeling hungry that much, at least in my adult life. Why? Because I always had food in my stomach! I was always eating, overeating, actually, always filling myself up, always noshing, drinking, snacking, picking, and flooding my body with calories. So this hunger thing is a relatively new thing to me, and it’s a sign that I’m doing something right.
What I do when I feel that hunger is important. Eating Doritos, cookies, ice cream or those confounded Snyders Honey Mustard pretzel bits is not about feeding my body; it's more about habit, boredom and satisfying a craving. This is different than feeding my body. I now understand the difference! Go me.
I typically plan to give myself a small amount of calories in the evening so that I can eat something if I get hungry at home. I usually am hungry in the evening, but not always, amazingly. Because I usually am, I avoid having tempting things like the aforementioned items in my house because I usually overdo it with those things. This way, if I need something, my choices are healthy and not likely to be a disaster. I need to NOT have the tempting stuff that leads me to overeat in the house, period.
The funny thing is, even though I don't have this stuff in the house, I sometimes get hungry and lose my mind a little bit. I get up and hunt through the cupboards or fridge for a "forgotten" pint of Ben & Jerry's or a mystery sleeve of Oreos. I root around thinking that there’s got to be something that I overlooked, that I don’t remember even buying, just waiting for me to discover and devour. Even when I totally, positively KNOW beyond the shadow of a doubt that they are just not there I still look for them, out of habit. If I just move that pesky box of whole wheat pasta out of the way there’s GOTTA be a canister of Slim Jims there waiting for me – aaggghhh! As if! I spent years doing the open fridge gaze and the drooling cabinet scan, and so the actions are very well ingrained and they feel so natural, but now I don’t follow up by eating something that is not on my plan. I even do this at the fridge at work in the afternoons, knowing that there is nothing even worth a binge in there, even when I’m NOT hungry and I’m just bored or stressed, and this proves to me that my fridge/cupboard visits are just habits, meaningless actions that used to get me in tons of trouble, back before I used to listen to my body and think of the future. So, when it dawns on me that the Slim Jims are a figment of my imagination and I am just going through the motions, I normally curse a little to pretend that I’m really pissed that I can’t have a fat fix, get over it quick and then reach for something healthy. I then satisfy my hunger, and my craving is totally forgotten.
It takes practice, but the habit of “snacking” - actually, it’s bingeing - on unhealthy stuff can be trashed by planning (on NOT having the foods there in the first place), refocusing the behavior (letting yourself hunt around for that sweet treat, and then steering yourself towards the healthy foods) and listening to your body. It will require a change in behavior, and a true consideration of whether you’re really hungry or not at every turn, but it's something that can be done - if I can do it, anyone on the planet can.
Just for the record, I do have my “treats” once in a while, on weigh-in days. I stick to one of them, and I just don’t eat tonnage anymore! ;)