The Truth About Hunger: Should you Listen?

We are conditioned to believe hunger is bad. How often have you heard “I’m hungry and I don’t know why, I shouldn’t be”,  “why am I hungry?”. We question hunger as if we shouldn’t be hungry because we don’t deserve to be.

The truth is you DO deserve to be hungry. Being hungry means you are alive; your metabolism is working, and you need energy to fuel your body.

Hunger is a good thing.

Hunger is our bodies way of telling us it needs energy to function and perform. What comes to mind straight away here is physical performance – moving, walking, running, picking up the washing basket, taking the stairs. And yes this is correct. But also fuel to help us think, concentrate, speak, breathe, assist with internal processes and mechanisms which are constantly operating in the body to help us survive.

Everybody’s hunger levels are different. You may experience hunger while your friend may not at the same time, this is completely normal. An individual’s hunger levels can vary day to day based on:

  • Physical activity
  • Emotions
  • Stress levels
  • Lifestyle
  • What you did the previous day
  • What you are doing in the day
  • What you ate the day before
  • Food preferences

Comparing your hunger to somebody else’s isn’t a fair comparison.

Hunger can also look and feel different for everybody. Classic signs tend to include physical sensations such as a rumbling tummy, gurgling stomach or stomach pain, but can also include a headache, irritability, brain fog, difficulty concentrating, feeling lightheaded, feeling empty or being easily distracted. When we experience hunger signals like these it is important to ask ourselves when we last ate, acknowledge and respect our hunger and eat if we can. Whether it’s a full meal or small snack, listening to hunger cues is so important.

It’s important to note everybody will experience different hunger cues along such a long spectrum of sensations. Hence, it’s important to listen to your own body.

I’m not saying we need to starve ourselves to wait and feel that hunger sensation. But recognising hunger signals and acknowledging them is a wonderful thing.

Hunger comes in different forms too.

Let’s start with physical hunger. If we are experiencing physical hunger we may crave a particular food, but when we experience physical hunger this can often be satisfied by any food. We may feel a rumbling tummy, headache, feelings of ‘emptiness’ etc, which would be alleviated when we eat. Emotional hunger, however, involves feeling hungry, perhaps with physical signs of hunger too. But when we eat, if it is not the desired craved food we continue to crave that food. This isn’t a bad thing. What’s important is to recognise this and be aware of your hunger.

I’ll say it again, hunger is a good thing!

When you feel hungry why question it? The simple action is to eat. Yet we have over complicated food and eating so much that even this seems wrong.

When you listen to your body it will tell you what you need, trust it! This will be difficult if you have spent a long time ignoring hunger and satiety signals, they become difficult to recognise. But with patience and guidance, they can be re-found.

Eat because you want to nourish your body and mind, eat because you enjoy eating and respect your body’s needs.  Eat because it’s a wonderful thing.

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