Learning to live with hunger

Monday, January 10, 2011

It's funny how no one has a problem telling you exercise isn't easy...they say things like "no pain, no gain!" and "push past the pain!" But when it comes to diet and nutrition, no one will admit the obvious. It's not going to be pleasant. All the "fad" diets, and even most of the established programs like Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, etc., advertise that their program will allow you to lose weight withOUT feeling hungry.

Well, I don't buy it. Sure, it's a lot of fun gaining weight. Cake, chips, fried food, whatever. Why should I expect that it won't be unpleasant losing weight? Why should I expect that won't have to live through some hunger or anxiety or boredom to get where I need to be? I saw a television program where someone trying to lose weight was consulting a nutritionist. The client was telling her that she didn't like this diet plan or that one, etc., because they left her feeling hungry. The nutritionist cut her short and said "well, learn to live with some discomfort." Wow! That was an eye-opener for me. People rarely say that about diet programs, but it's so true. In order for you to lose weight, you have to consume less calories than your body uses in a day. You SHOULD feel a little hungry. Not starving, mind you, but at least a little hungry.

This revelation has done a lot for me this week. If I feel a little hungry, and I start to think about food, I remind myself that I've had enough food today, and that I have to live with the discomfort. Then I try to take my mind off of it with some other activity. What I don't try to do is get rid of the other words, find something to eat. In the past, whenever I was trying to lose weight, if I was feeling hungry, I immediately looked for some way to "fix" the problem....and of course often ended up eating more than I should, not allowing my body to adjust to an appropriate amount of calories.

Of course, if I'm "starving" or REALLY hungry, with hunger pangs or a growling stomach, that's a different story. That requires a small snack or some adjustment to meal/snack times. And, of course, I remember to eat only enought to get rid of the hunger, not enough to fill me up.

So far, this strategy is working pretty well, but it's a hard thing to live with. I'm hoping my body will adjust and it will get less difficult.
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  • no profile photo CD6063397
    I am a little Hungry tonight...I am dring Hot Gree Tea.
    Filling up w/ water...instead...but I agreee a little
    focus on something else is very good for you..and the next time it will be easier to ingore...
    3471 days ago
  • CNHALL1000
    I understand what you're saying, and I don't want you to get me wrong...I do not walk around starving. Any diet which required me to live with hunger pangs is not going to work. However, most diets state that you will never feel hungry. They either encourage constant snacking on low-calorie foods, such as fruits and vegetables, every time you feel the urge, or they just tell you that you shouldn't feel hungry on their program, even though you do. Then you feel like there's something wrong with you, and you get discouraged and quit. I don't think we should feel "satiated" all of the time. It's OK to have that feeling like "yeah, I could certainly eat something right now, but my stomach's not growling." First of all, it will encourage your stomach to shrink, thus allowing you to feel full on less, and second, it will train your brain not to constantly be thinking about food, or constantly expecting food every time your stomach is getting less than 1/4 full. I just don't think it's a good idea for diet programs to encourage people to NEVER be hungry. Yes, it's hard to stick to...heaven knows I've tried and failed many, many times, but I think in the long run it will be better for me. I think it will be easier to maintain a weight loss if my body has learned to live with not being "full" at every meal.

    Partially, I agree with you. Picking better foods just makes sense. No one is going to make it on a diet where they're starving. I'm just saying that sometimes it's okay to have a little case of the munchies, but decide to ignore the feeling and find a way to distract ourselves. Then, when it's time for a snack or meal, you have a reasonable amount (hopefully picking nutritious foods, like you said).

    Maybe I'm not saying it well. As an overweight person up to the point where I started on Spark about a week ago, I just ate too much, plain and simple. I didn't eat the right foods, certainly, but even when I did, I ate too much of them. When I felt even a little hungry, I immediately responded and had something to eat. This is just a bad habit. In addition to eating better foods, I think a little self-discipline in how often and how much we eat is a good idea. Learning to live with a little hunger, so to speak, and breaking the bad habit of not just eating bad foods, but eating frequently, in large quantities.

    Thanks for the post, though. Hopefully I clarified things. emoticon
    3471 days ago
    I think that you're on to something here - yes, no matter what we try to tell ourselves, active weight loss always involves a certain amount of deprivation. You have to maintain a calorie deficit to lose weight, there's no way around it. But I do think that it helps to try to eat calorie light but nutrient dense foods. Like, you can eat a Snickers bar for 273 calories, or you can eat a plain grilled chicken breast, a baked sweet potato, and a cup and a half of salad with 10 pumps of salad spritzer for 275 calories. 275 calories is 275 calories, but I know which one will keep you feeling full and satisfied longer.

    I'm not meaning to contradict you on your own blog, it just worries me when I see people talk about going around hungry. I know that when something is unpleasant, I have a hard time sticking with it, so it's important to find ways to make it pleasant. The good news is that your stomach will shrink if you eat smaller meals for several days, and that will also help you feel more satisfied on less food. But I'd say that if you are consistently hungry after the first week or so, it might be time to either reset your goals (meaning, maybe you decide to lose the weight more slowly so that you aren't being asked to restrict your calories as much) or try to find ways to eat more filling but less calorie dense foods.

    Just trying to help. :)
    3471 days ago
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    Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.

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