These human bodies we live in are pretty amazing! God made us with built-in signals to alert us to what’s going on inside. Tiredness, sickness, and emotion are often felt in the body before you mentally realize them.
Hunger is the same way. A lot of diet culture is focused on suppressing hunger and making it the bad guy, when actually, it’s a really helpful message from your body, saying, “Hey! We’re low on energy here; eat!”
The scary thing about a lot of diets is that they put you in a state of deprivation. Your body doesn’t about your diet and your grandiose health goals. All it knows is that it is actually starving. That might sound extreme, but when you don’t feed your body adequately with energy and carbs, it ramps up your hunger and cravings, slows down your metabolism, and pushes you to eat large amounts of food when it is available. Sound familiar?
Dieting tells us to listen to external signals, like:
- Is it time?
- Do I deserve it?
- Is it low-calorie enough?
But the sad thing is that the longer you suppress your internal hunger signals, the quieter they become. You can get to a point where the only time you feel hunger is when you’re ravenous — leading you to believe you really can’t trust your body. But nothing could be further from the truth.
So how do you honor your hunger? It may take time to wake up those signals if you have silenced them for a long time. For me it took a couple weeks of really focusing on it to begin feeling those sensations again. But they did come back for me, and they can for you too! Here’s some steps to get you started:
- Recognize your unique hunger cues (gurgling stomach, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, etc.)
- Give yourself permission to eat whenever you feel hungry. Your body is not a restaurant that opens and closes at a certain time every day! You might feel hungry in the middle of the night or between meals…and that is totally normal! Give yourself the freedom to respond no matter what time of day it is.
- Using the hunger scale to check in each time you eat.
Measure your hunger/fullness before and during meals to start learning what each level feels like in your body. This was extremely helpful for me!
4. Keep a journal of your observations. This might seem like overkill, but the hyper-focus on your body won’t last forever. And I promise, the process is worth it.
One last note: “eat only when you’re hungry” is not a new diet rule for you to follow! There are times you might eat when not hungry because prioritizing a relationship or celebrating a significant event is more important. And that’s okay too.