The dilemma of feeling hungry and what our cravings are telling us…

Someone asked me the other day ‘… got anything to stop me feeling hungry?’

Flanders, Netherlands

The Naturopath in me freeeeaaaks out at this question- hunger is our friend, the first step of the digestion cascade, essential for survival …blah blah blah. But taking off my tsk-ing Naturopath hat, I get it. So many people are struggling with their eating patterns. I have noticed this struggle is greatest in women and those who have been on and off diets for years. The problem with dieting is that we eat for every reason other than being hungry. When on a diet you get taught to eat by the clock, and to only eat what’s on ‘the list’.  Anything off the list suddenly becomes a desirable food and eating for actual hunger is a long lost concept- it’s all about being ‘good’ or being ‘bad’.

So, hunger is something we have learnt to be terrified of. When you’re sticking to a diet, hunger is not helpful. The reality for our health though, is that hunger sets in motion our entire digestive function. It promotes the secretion of digestive enzymes, supports healthy gut motility and promotes elimination. Most importantly for our dieting friends, is that eating when we feel hungry actually means we stop eating, naturally, when we are full. Feeling hunger also means we feel fullness and, in the long run if we eat a generally healthy diet, eating to hunger and then stopping at fullness means our weight is managed without too much effort at all… (uh oh, the million dollar weight loss industry just gave a collective cry!!)

So, how does this perfect state of zen-like eating balance happen?

First of all, the reality is -it ain’t perfect! And taking away the expectation of perfect eating and being perfect is the most important step to accepting our hunger, accepting our bodies and getting back to enjoying eating and feeling healthy.

It’s okay to eat rubbish sometimes. You won’t blow out to 100kg or get a pizza-face of pimples over night if you have a little junk. (My inner Naturopath still tsk-ing a little here- let’s just tell her to be quiet, ‘cos its true!!)

What are you really eating for? Are you hungry for food? (Do you feel an empty, warm-ness in your stomach area and feel like you need an energy re-fuel?) Or are you hungry for other reasons? (Do you want to stuff something inside to make you feel happier, less anxious, less sad? Does the block of choccie in the cupboard by-pass all logic and speak to you, telling you to consume the whole thing immediately?) My next blog will deal with the more mechanical reasons for eating apart from hunger- physical body cravings, but today’s blog is about getting you to think about why you are eating. Before you eat your next bite today, pause. Are you feeling that actual hunger sensation or are other things at play? Acknowledge your hunger and your emotional hunger. There are things much more powerful than food to feed your soul with… What will you do to feed your body today? What will you do to feed your heart, mind and spirit?

As Always,

Yours in herbie goodness,

Kirrily.