One of the many things I’ve grown to love about my body, is its innate wisdom and how clearly it communicates to me. Now, it didn’t always used to be this way, but once I began listening and trusting, I was able to decipher exactly what it needed and respond accordingly.
And one of the greatest things that it taught me, is that while we all have a natural rhythm when it comes to our appetites, that rhythm can change; which, for the very controlled, structured individual, can be very scary.
“Why am I so hungry some days and not others?”
Client: “I’m so hungry but it’s only 10 o’clock; I shouldn’t be this hungry, but I don’t think I can wait until noon to eat.”
Me: “Why don’t you think you can eat now if you’re hungry?”
Client: “Because if I eat an early lunch that means I’ll want to eat dinner earlier too, and then I’ll be hungry again after dinner and want a snack!”
Me: “Okay, and what’s wrong with having a snack later in the evening if you get hungry again?”
Client: “Because I’ll go over my calorie or macro goal and and I know you shouldn’t eat after 7 pm.”
Me: “But if your body’s giving you signs that it needs more fuel, it doesn’t matter what My Fitness Pal is telling you- you’re body knows what you need.
I have this type of conversation regularly with my clients, and to be honest, I used to think like this as well.
What’s so wrong here, is the belief that this person cannot trust her appetite and must, instead, rely on an arbitrary number of calories, percentage of macros, or time of day to determine if, when, and how much he/she is allowed to eat.
The sad truth is that we’ve been taught to deny our body’s needs in an attempt to fulfill external rules that cannot possibly take into account our unique needs and wants.
And some that are just down right stupid and even harmful.
When someone tells me that they have to stick to 1200 calories a day because My Fitness Pal told them to, I respond by explaining that My Fitness pal would tell every person with a similar weight, lifestyle, and goal that they all need the same amount of calories.
Same for the newest obsession (other than, of course, the Keto Diet) of counting macros. I’ll have clients tell me that an random search on Google tells them that they should only eat 100 g of carbs a day! Lies, lies, lies.
Don’t you think one calculation for thousands of men and women seems a little odd?
Hunger is your friend
One of the biggest complaints I hear from women is that they get anxious when they get hungry before or after meals when they “shouldn’t” be. But here’s the thing… your body doesn’t care about what time it is; it cares about getting the fuel it needs, when it needs it.
Yes, there are many factors that play in hunger, such as hormones, dehydration, exercise, sleep, stress, or even eating a smaller than normal dinner, however, learning to accept that there is a natural and biological ebb and flow to hunger, instead of trying to control it, is one step closer to healing your relationship with food.
You may experience a day when you don’t have much of an appetite and then find a couple days later that you’re hungrier than usual. And here’s the cool thing- your body regulates what it needs, when it needs it, which means some days it needs more, others, less. Thing is, hunger is normal and needs to be honored, even if it pops up at 10 am when you’re least expecting it.
A hungry body (and mind) is an out of control body
Hunger is a beautiful way your body tells you that it needs more energy. And eating when you’re hungry sends the message to yourself that you hear that it’s asking for more fuel and that you want to care for it.
But if you’ve been living a life of deprivation or restriction it can be scary to trust this, and I completely understand. Because in your mind, giving into hunger has lead to you down the path of a bingeing or eating out of control.
However, this is not the result of trusting in your hunger, rather this is occurring due to your body’s sense of restriction and deprivation, which sets the stage for the binge, shame, restrict cycle.
But when you feed yourself regularly, in the amounts *your* body needs, as well as what it wants, you cultivate a mutual trust between yourself and your hunger cues, that will feel liberating and relieving, and allow for you to be able to eat confidently and with ease.
Denying hunger, or trying to ignore it because you believe that My Fitness Pal, the Keto Diet, or a random macro breakdown knows your unique body better, is only going to continue you down the path of shame, frustration, and feeling out of control around food.
Biology always wins.
Talk to me! I love hearing from y’all! And find out more here.