Learning how to be hungry

Why is it so hard to take good advice? There are so many things I read, or hear, or see, and I’m nodding my head like¬†yes, excellent, I could do that and it would be totally easy and my life would be so much better. Yet, somehow, I can’t seem to integrate that good idea into my life. Too big, too broad, I don’t have the time. Or, too small, too insignificant to really make a difference. That’s what I’d like to change.

Everyone from my doctor to the 16 year old checkout girl at the grocery store has mentioned mindfulness recently. Mindfulness is ubiquitous good advice, which slightly raises my hackles, but that doesn’t mean it should be ignored. But it’s a bit like air – good for you and everywhere you want to be – not something that you can easily get a handle on. So, where to start? I want to pursue mindfulness from the hunger angle. Intuitive eating is something I’ve been thinking might really help me, as remembering to notice when I’m eating is actually a difficult part of my life. In reading about intuitive eating it seems that everything starts with hunger – eating because you’re hungry and stopping when you’re full. This is so different from my normal days, where I eat on a schedule defined by work. I love the idea, but it begs the question – how do I know when I’m hungry?

This should be obvious – I can just think back to the last time I was hungry. Except… I have no idea when that was. I have a vague memory of being so hungry my stomach starts cramping, I snap at my family, and I immediately feel better after inhaling some food (any food). That memory is totally disconnected to my current life, though. It has been years, at least, since I’ve been deeply hungry. It would appear I’m not alone. Apparently many people have spent so long ignoring body cues that we wouldn’t recognize a signal of hunger unless it was waving a giant sign that said hunger. So, in order to have a nice goal for this week, I’m going to do an exercise from Linda Bacon’s Health at Every Size – keeping a hunger log, sans the food log part. I hate the food logs. Basically I’ll be trying to identify what my hunger feels like, filling out a 1-10 spectrum with personalized descriptions such as “so full I’d like to set all nearby food on fire” or “I will eat anything that can’t run faster than I can”.

I have what I consider to be a reasonably short attention span. A week is a long time in my world. I think a reasonable crack at this whole “pay attention to hunger signals” idea can happen in a week, or a bit less. I think this will be my pattern: start on Saturday and write up my plan for Monday; six days of experimentation will get me through Thursday and I’ll write up my conclusions for Friday. Let’s see how it goes.




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