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Fear of hunger

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Have you ever 'gone hungry'? I'm not talking for a meal -- or even a day. I'm talking about the constant, stabbing hunger that takes over your brain after, in my experience, 48 hours or without substantial food. Maybe, like me, you were a child who grew up in neglect (if so, I'm so incredibly sorry. I know your pain.). Maybe you grew up in a family who couldn't afford regular meals (Again, I'm so sorry.). Maybe you got lost in the woods once, or decided to go on some crazy 300-calorie diet, or were anorexic. Whatever caused you to become acquainted with that type of hunger -- "death hunger", I've call it -- I'm just so sorry. (FWIW, I was/am also anorexic -- so I firmly believe that self-imposed starvation is as valid as starvation outside of your control. I think it counts because the REASON why you went to that extreme is something you've lost control over. But that may wax too philosophical and I'll leave it for another time.)

The reason I ask if you've gone hungry is that, after the death hunger of my early years and the subsequent anorexia of my teens and early-20s, learning to overeat was kind of a godsend. I finally learned to avoid the hunger. And, as time has gone on the more I've overeaten and the more I've adopted this incredible FEAR of hunger. Any hunger. Even the "I just ate my lunch too late" kind of hunger. It's like I swung in the opposite extreme. Sure, I can still buck up and deal with hunger but the mere thought of having to do that terrifies me.

The reason I bring this up is that I am about to embark on this medical weight management program. I have the opportunity to lose at least 50 lbs over 5 months and because I'll be monitored by clinicians, I have the opportunity to push that upwards of 100 lbs. I mean, my mind reels with this honestly. It's like what I want more than almost anything in the world is within grasp -- finally! -- and yet...

I'm still truly terrified of being hungry.

That realization struck me today as I finished the enrollment paperwork. I'm absolutely terrified of having to feel intense hunger and it's going to be both empowering and a potential barrier to face that fear. For clarification, it's not like they're going to starve me. This isn't some low-calorie diet sanctioned by a lunatic with a half-baked MD. It's going to be safe, healthy, sustainable... just also intense. But the thought of not being able to eat as much as I want freaks me out.

I'm going to have to overcome this fear. I'm going to have to embrace hunger -- just temporarily. Because, as anyone who has experience hunger knows: it goes away. It doesn't take too long before the brain learns to shut those signals out. Hunger is, whether you eat or not, only transient.

I'm wondering if I need to start training now. I want to be successful. I want to fight -- and win. Maybe this weekend, when I'm not expected to think hard or write intellectual prose or analyze data, I should just hole up and starve. Oh, I don't mean truly starve. I mean eat 1300 calories each day and figure out how to deal with it.

I don't want to be afraid anymore. More importantly, I don't want to be unhealthy anymore. I am very seriously considering this. I need my brain come Monday... but a restricted diet over the weekend might be exactly what I need to do to get ready for the 20 weeks in front of me.

P.S. -- As we near the holidays, I urge you to please think of easing hunger for others, not only now but year-round. People so often only think of the suffering of others at this time of year, and yet we have too many children in our own country going hungry every day. Please support your community and feed those who are unable to feed themselves. Thinking of this is very sobering -- and adds solidarity to my resolve to eat less... so I may feed more.

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I am so very sorry for the trauma you suffered, but am so proud of you that you're taking care of yourself. THAT is a victory.

    1673 days ago
  • GODZY_
    I've never felt that type of hunger that you speak off here and I'm sorry for people that have gone through that.
    But I do feel hunger, not everyday but almost everyday since I started this journey and even before. And believe me I don't starve myself, I eat about 2000 calories per day sometimes more, I loose a little slower than other people, but it's the only for me for now to deal with that. Sometimes it feels like I could eat 3 to 4 times those calories and still feel very hungry and other times I'm fine.
    I don't know why it's there, why I have this bottomless pit in my stomach showing up from time to time. I've learn to live with it but it does terrifies me sometimes when it goes on for weeks and weeks and all the tricks I know don't work on it. These time I indulge, I eat a little more and like with everything else I give myself and my body time to adjust. Sometime I'll end up with a little gain but I keep pushing on that.

    As a diabetic I was follow by professional similar to what you are talking about. Not as thorough maybe as your program, but it did help me find a balance with this hunger thing and the goal to lose weight. They had some nice advice and I think if anyone has the opportunity for such a program it's a great thing to try and embark on.
    I know that this was what kick started my journey and help me lose the pounds. To this day every time a gain a little too much back I go back to those basics and portions control they gave me and it works wonder.

    I wish you all the success with your program and your journey and I'll be there to cheer you on.
    1675 days ago
    YES. I have felt that.
    Hunger from not enough in childhood... hunger from disability as a teenager (choking on hard foods like the cheap cuts of meat we'd get, so, many nights it was something like half a can of greenbeans for dinner), being out with groups and pretending I wasn't hungry because I didn't have money but watching other people eat, then being a single parent... my dinner was whatever was left of my son's dinner.

    Then, after I got remarried and could spend less on childcare, omg, it was a whole new world!!!
    My husband would bring me gifts of food and I'd eat them all, free food in the office all the time, fridge always chock-full of food that I wanted to and could eat! I was so content in a way I hadn't been in my life.
    ... the downside is my husband is a hoarder and always goes overboard on things, always orders too much food or buys too many groceries and serves up portions too large.
    I'd get caught up in eating the extra so it wouldn't go to waste. I just cry when I see how much food people waste!!!

    It's been VERY hard giving myself permission to waste food, or sucking up the courage to stop my husband from over-ordering or over-serving (he doesn't take it well).
    Giving myself strict instructions not to order the massive combos because they're the cheapest, spending more money on a healthier substitute.

    ... sorry for the brain dump. I just got very emotional reading your post.
    At any rate, there are several organizations we give to locally, food pantry and operation backpack and food outreach. Great people doing great work. Such a small thing to much of the country, but, such a huge thing to people who are going without.
    1675 days ago
    1675 days ago
  • JENNY888
    Investigate the Dr. Furhman Eat to Live diet. Check my blog that I wrote today. It works and all the fear of going hungry will go away because you won't be hungry - but you will lose weight.
    1675 days ago
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