Thursday, February 11, 2010

Reflections on hunger

Last week there was an episode of Biggest Loser where a doctor spoke to the contestants about hunger. His theory was along the lines that in this day and age, for some reason we have learned to be almost frightened of hunger, to see it as a very bad thing. Now, this really got me thinking.

When you're fat, it's truly amazing just how many people will offer you advice (90% unsolicited) about what you should be doing to lose weight. And as a long-term fat person, as you can imagine, that well-intentioned (but sometimes very annoying and patronising - HELLO, I know I'm fat, but thanks for pointing out the bleeding obvious!) advice does rather start to stack up! Anyway, this episode of BL got me thinking about the times people have suggested to me that I take something that will suppress my appetite, because then I won't feel like eating and the kilos will just fall off me like garments in a nudist colony. And what do I tell these people? "Yes, that's a great idea - except I don't eat when I'm hungry. In fact, I don't remember the last time I WAS hungry." I don't think I'm Robinson Crusoe on this one, either. Because when I'm not being careful and watching what I do, I eat for all sorts of other reasons, but hunger, if there was a list, would be pretty damn low on it. And on the odd occasion when a miracle happens and for some reason I forget to eat for a while, in the old days this would almost engender a sense of panic, as in, "I'm so hungry - I have to eat something NOW!" And of course this is illogical because, let's face it, with the amount of "resources" on my body I could not eat for six months and I'd be just fine. :) So where does this irrational belief come from, I wonder? I wish I knew! Any feedback on this one would be welcome!

I guess the other reason I've been thinking about hunger is that I've BEEN so hungry this week. It's only to be expected after cutting down my cals so drastically after quite a long time of free-for-all eating as and when and what I pleased, but there have been a couple of times it's been a bit confronting and hard to deal with, such as when I go to bed hungry and it almost seems to be keeping me awake. However, feeling these hunger pangs has also been very educational. The other night I went to a boxing class. These classes go for 90 minutes and they're quite hard work with few rests from doing something. Even when just catching punches, you are still working to a degree. Before I went, I was what I could call "starving". My stomach was making loud growling noises and I felt like I wanted something then and there, that I HAD to have something, but I don't like eating too close to a workout so I didn't eat. Anyway, I went off and did the 90-minute class, and something very surprising happened. After it...I wasn't hungry at all! I'd done 90 minutes of exercise on a pretty empty stomach, so I started off ravenous and then burned a stack of calories in that state, yet when it was over the hunger pangs stopped! This really blew my mind. I had a smallish dinner after the class and that was plenty for me.

It has really brought home to me that clearly my hunger signalling mechanism is really out of whack and I need to reeducate it somehow. And since I obviously cannot rely on my feelings of hunger to tell me when to eat, that's exactly why I simply must count calories. It's so obvious!

So I'm more determined than ever now to keep going with it, because now I know exactly why I have to.

Peace out. xx


  1. Sometimes that happens to me where i lose the hunger during a workout, love it!
    I am in the middle of reding a free ebook on emotional eating and it is light a lightbulb has gone off in my head. I can send you the link if you like :)

  2. Deb ...I think you are on to something there ...I have found since getting back into the exercise ..I am no longer hungry all the time ..though I really beleive mine is Boredom and tiredness that triggers the Eating ..and thanks for the help in finding the Blog Berys

  3. Erk, I know what you are saying about the unwanted (unneeded?) advice...

    Seriously, I move house, go to a new doctor, to see them for a sinus infection, and they bring up my weight... and then I go, um, I've lost 25kg in the last year, I think I can do it on my own thanks... and then the health check at work, same thing... I do honestly feel like punching them in the face.

    But that's a bit violent, lol. But you're right, I am the same. I hardly get hunger signals any more. Sometimes I get a craving for red meat when I have associated with Iron (and now I eat a decent steak instead of Maccas!!!) but that's about all I have gotten used to so far.
    At work I eat timed by the clock. I stay within calories, but I eat everything associated with what I have planned at certain times, I don't have a chance to get "hungry" as such...
    But at the same time, when I get home from work I am completely ravenous! But I think that's because I am used to an after work snack.

    Anyway, I am not here to blog on your blog... just to tell you I hear you :)