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I’m Always Hungry- Why? I Eat Regular Meals!

I'm always hungry

I’m always hungry. What’s wrong with me?

 

Question: This week’s question comes from a member of the 5 week program – and I think it’s a great one, and very relevant to everyone. 

Dear Leora,

I have a problem. I’m always hungry. Here is something that often happens to me:  I have just finished eating–  I had a nice breakfast. 2 eggs, small piece of toast, 1/2 a small grapefruit,and coffee with a little cream and now an hour and a half later I am hungry. This is often when I feel hunger which seems inappropriate given that I’d just eaten. I have given it a chance to go away, it doesn’t feel like appetite, just seemingly unjustified hunger. I have used all the tools that you have taught us in the course –  and I’ve figured out that this is not emotional hunger and this is not a binge urge, but I’m actually hungry, this is real physiological hunger!  How is it possible that I’m hungry when I’ve eaten such a solid meal?   Sorry if it seems like I am beating a dead horse, but I just want to understand why I’m always hungry. What’s wrong with me?  -Geraldine

My Answer:

Dear Geraldine, 

Thank you so much for this important question.  

Diet mentality has taught us for so much of our life not to trust our bodies, that when we start to tune in to out actual hunger and satiety cues, we are surprised and angry when we begin to notice that our body’s have real needs that have nothing to do with what we are taught by the diet dictocrats! The breakfast that you mentioned sounds balanced, but also very light and low calorie, so it makes sense that your body would be needing more calories 90 minutes later. That’s normal and okay!  When we diet, we learn not to trust ourselves.  Now that you’re tuned into your actual physiological hunger, you are surprised to see that you are hungry after eating what has been drilled into you as a healthy breakfast. The truth is that what you are eating would be considered a “diet” breakfast. You could add a little more to it (like an avocado or some cheese or an extra egg or some sausage) or you can keep the same breakfast and let yourself eat 90 minutes later when you are hungry again.  

Diets teach us that we can’t trust ourselves to know what and when to eat, but when we choose to truly listen to our bodies and give our bodies what they need, we can’t go wrong. Your body doesn’t want to be unhealthy. That means it doesn’t want to be uncomfortably full or eat more calories than it needs, but it also doesn’t want to be constantly hungry.    It doesn’t want its hunger to be denied.  It needs food and nutrition to carry out its basic functions and will tell you what it needs when you listen very carefully.  It’s very easy to hear your body and not trust it because it contradicts the conventional diet paradigm. You believe that you shouldn’t be hungry and that a small meal should keep you satisfied for hours on end. That’s not realistic. 

When I was a little tween girl and starting to “develop,” my mother, who was a devout follower of the Weight Watchers doctrine, brought me to a dietician. He asked why we were there and she said, “well, she won’t stop eating. She eats all the time!” He said to my mother “she must be hungry.” And my mother said, “yes, she’s always hungry, what’s wrong with her?” and the nutritionist said, “Nothing, she’s hungry! she needs to eat! Look at her, she looks fine.” And my mother said, “but she’s going to get fat,” and the dietician said, “no, let her eat, she’s fine,” and my mother argued with him. So he put me on the scale and weighed me. Then he showed my mother the height/weight chart (ick)  which showed that my body was within normal limits. He refused to put me on a diet or tell my mother that I needed to lose weight. But this was against her strong beliefs and so she took me to Weight Watchers where I learned how not to trust my body.  Because of that and many other experiences, I never thought that eating when I was hungry was okay and that I had to deny my appetite. This is why I had to re-learn to trust my body. This is not unusual. Any one of us who went on a diet at some point learned that our bodies couldn’t be trusted. But when you learn to tune in and really listen to what your body wants and needs, it will never steer you wrong. 

Take some time to think about how to trust your body– listen to it, feed it with kind words and gratitude, thank it for carrying you and caring for you, send it love and ask it to support you and tell you what it needs. So the next time you think “I’m always hungry!” Smile to yourself and say, “yes, I’m always hungry because I’m alive and well and my body wants to be fed, nourished and cared for and I’m going to do that!” 

I hope you found this helpful! 

Do you have a question about binge eating, bulimia, anorexia, or anything associated with eating? Send an email to bingeeatingtherapy  at gmail dot com. All questions will be kept confidential. Include your first name or the name you want to be referred to as and your location. Are you interested in online therapy or coaching to deal with your eating disorder? Please contact me to discuss getting started. 

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