Friday, June 15, 2012

Experiencing Hunger

The hunger-satiating salad
It was long past my lunchtime, but a full docket at the writing center left no time to consume my lunch. I left work a little after 1pm, heading home to eat lunch there.  When I arrived, I was so hungry that I was verging on dizziness as I prepared my meal; however, my salad never tasted so good, the flavors strong and satisfying.

Why did I wait so long to eat? I am trying to listen to my hunger signals a little better, to pay attention to when I need to eat, and when I'm just eating because it's time to eat.  So I could have eaten early to avoid getting hungry, but I refused to.  I don't obviously advocate not eating until one is to the point of dizziness or passing out, but I'm learning to experience hunger.

Okay, I know that seems weird (and possibly disordered), so I'll explain: because I sometimes have issues with my blood sugar dipping (though not eating sugar/refined grains reduces it drastically), I have an aversion to being hungry for longer than a few minutes.  When I start to feel a few pangs, I usually eat something, which frequently leads me to eat when I'm probably not actually  hungry.  I eat from boredom and habit rather than because I need sustenance.

L's brother once said something offhandedly that has stuck with me: in response to a question about if he needed food before the next meal, he commented, "It's not bad to feel hungry."  (or something like that).  It has stuck with me because I always felt like it was a state to be constantly avoided.  But what if hunger isn't as bad as I feared?

I had a cat who didn't have constant access to food when she was a kitten. As a result, she was always concerned about the state of her food bowl: she would constantly come into the house simply to check to make sure her food was still there.  As someone who is lucky enough to always have access to food, I nevertheless picked up a strong fear of not having enough to eat.  Maybe it's from growing up in a big family (with hungry, growing boys) where if you didn't jump in, you might miss out on getting something.  It's also related to the bad experiences of being lightheaded from hunger before lunch in school or moments of hangry that wash over me if I don't eat.

These fears and the distrust of my own body are something I'm coming to terms with.  Hence, waiting to eat until I really am hungry, even if I accidentally push myself into a red line.  I'm learning to trust my body, that if I treat myself right, my body will tell me what it needs if I'm willing to pay attention to its physical signals.  It isn't bad to feel hungry, especially if it means waiting a little while to eat something delicious.

Last night after dinner, I wanted a little dessert.  L's mom is staying with us for a few days, and she brought cake for us to enjoy.  I decided that I'd have a bite of cake with some fruit.  As I was eating my cake, I realized that I didn't really want it after all.  The first few bites were okay, but I really just wanted fruit and yogurt. So I stopped eating it and gave the rest to L.  Not only did I get a tiny portion to start with, but I recognized when my body had enough and I stopped.

I'm not certain how to convey how big this is for me, but believe me: it's big. Almost unheard of, in fact. I'm actually still a little shocked that I managed to do it.  I usually blow by those signals and keep on eating to the point of misery, so I'm starting to understand how trusting and listening to those physical signals can help me to eat in a way that is balanced and healthy.  And I have to say, I like it a lot.

1 comment:

Kerry said...

Woot! But be careful not to go too far the other way, hmm? No dizziness. (Says one with experience of letting herself get too hungry because eating would get in the way of what she was doing.) And stay hydrated - often people confuse thirst with hunger. (Though I know you are always very conscientious of staying hydrated, lol.)

Congratulations, Jenn. I'm glad you're letting yourself enjoy sweets when you want them as well. Sweets are nummy! Moderation is good. Love!