But are you REALLY not hungry?
My friends, a post I read the other day a la My Little Tablespoon struck something in me. It inspired me to discuss the topic of hunger signals because it has been something I have learned over time as well. Her post was quite interesting for me as it explains some of the weird things that come along with recovery. She spoke about how sometimes you feel as if you are back to being a child and feeling vulnerable and fragile. When you choose to move forward against the ED is when you feel fear like a child who is facing a monster.
You come to realize that as you grow you are bigger then that monster and have to use your voice and your strength to shrink the monster into the small bully it really is. It was quite the thought provoking read to say the least, so, Cora, I thank you for that.
The other thing that stood out to me was this line…
I don’t get the typical physical hunger ques of a growling stomach, but I knew I was hungry because I was having the hardest time focusing and felt extremely lethargic.
Maybe this thought hit me harder because of what happened yesterday during my restaurant. Yes, hell day was yesterday (my groups day to run the restaurant at University) and although it turned out pretty good in the end, there was a hiccup for my own health that really just did not sit well with me.
So heres a quick run-down of yesterday.
You see, I’m not allowed to eat during service (i.e. between the hours of 10:30 and 2:30 basically). I asked my prof/chef about eating and he said if you ever need to step out then it’s fine but yet the one time a manager of the restaurant day sat down to have a quick bite after working away for like 7 hours, she immediately got harped at.
You know it doesn’t look good for a manager to be eating while others are working….
Basically us managers don’t eat until everything is done (despite everyone enjoying ‘staff meal’) and if you don’t get up now your mark will suffer. So after one bite and a flush of embarrassment across her face, she ran back in to the kitchen until shift was over which was more then an hour and half later.
This is what happened to me yesterday, except, those feelings of lethargy are so much stronger for someone who is underweight and I actually began to get concerned for myself. Long story short, I had been prepared, I did eat a meal before service (despite it being secretly done in the bathroom and woofed down so fast I don’t think my body recognized it was food..), but after running around the kitchen for 5 hours I was left feeling very hungry around normal staff meal time (1:30)…The hunger pangs stopped but then on came the light headedness and tunnel vision.
I need food, like now…
So this brings me back to the topic of hunger signals others then physical hunger feelings.
So yes, this may be an extreme example to start with to explain my thoughts on this topic, but it was just the other effects that occurred besides the actual hunger feelings that got me thinking about it.
So physical hunger aside, there are times that you think you’re not hungry but your body fails to agree. It is getting low in fuel and is ready for some food and if for some reason it can’t growl at you, other signs begin to surface that show a lack of sufficient energy.
So what’s with the lack of physical hunger you ask?
In many cases of disordered eating or even dieting, natural hunger signals may become skewed or non-existent and thus cannot be something to rely on. For me, despite generally feeling that hunger almost always, there are times where I don’t feel hungry and instead, I just feel sleepy, unmotivated and unfocused. Often for me, that is the result of gas and such (sorry TMI) due to the increases in food and my IBS kicking up a fuss.
I used to wonder why I didn’t feel this insatiable hunger all day long on some days because I work out so hard. Now I know that perhaps my hunger cues still need time to come back around 100% in addition to the fact that my hunger may be masked by other things. I have also come to learn that there are other obvious cues that I need food and that I just need to be aware when they start to present themselves.
You don’t need the tummy grumblies to signal you to eat.
This hopefully isn’t a forever thing but unfortunately when you restrict at some point in your life, this throws your hormones off balance and thus those triggers may be absent. So instead, it becomes vital that you cue into your other signs in order to keep your body humming away. Some of these include:
Unable to process information
Lack of concentration
I say time and time again, your body is smart. If your main cue of hunger is screwed up, your body comes up with other methods BUT most of us are just not in tune with our body enough or unaware that these are cues of hunger.
So what to do if your hunger cues are not so loud?
Listen to your body more. Sudden drops of blood sugar (aka I’m fasting right now and feeling hungry) can manifest themselves in those above symptoms. Try to practice and learn to dissect your feelings rather then waiting for hunger pangs. This takes time and practice, but becoming in tune with yourself will come.
Eat more often. If you’re on the go, have some snacks (remember balance! Not just a piece of fruit here unless you really have no other option) and eat one if you are coming on 3-4 hours after a meal unless you’re stuffed.
Get on a schedule. I know this seems like a weird tip considering I just said to listen to your body but hear me out. If you have lost your hunger cues then a schedule may be what it takes to regulate your feeding enough for it to start to signal you again. If you actually get hunger signals then by all means EAT but when you are still in the stages of trying to regain your bodies natural patterns, you may need to consider this.
Finally, you need to be patient. Your body isn’t an elastic band that can just return back to normal. If disordered eating (or another disease/illness) had mad those signals silent, give your body some time to come back around. It needs a lil wine’in and dine’in before it will show you some love back.
So think about it. Do you always feel hunger or do you eat sometimes because you know you should?
This is important for me to know especially now that my stomach may put up a fuss more often due to the caloric increases so frequently.
What would you do if you had a very long class but wasn’t allowed to eat. Do you think that is right?