Over the past couple of days, I have been focusing on the basic principles of intuitive eating. Eat when you are hungry and respect your fullness. Novel ideas, I know. To a compulsive over-eater like myself, these are foreign concepts and have to be re-learned. Over the past few years, while doing the weight watchers core program and starting my path to intuitive eating, I have become very in touch with my hunger signals but the signals of fullness still elude me sometimes. With practice, I am finding that my brain is starting to be re-wired, if you will, about eating only when hungry. I have learned so many new coping skills and have let so many of my pent up emotions out that the desire to eat when not hungry isn’t all day everyday anymore. I still struggle with wanting to eat after dinner but I am finding it easy to only eat when hungry during the day.
Instead of fighting with hunger, I am learning to embrace it and even find myself excited to feel it. It starts out gently by thoughts of foods and wondering when I will be hungry again. Then, within an hour or less, I start to feel an empty feeling and shortly after, a gentle gnawing happens in the pit of my stomach. When the gentle gnawing feeling happens, I think to myself “I am hungry”. If I wait to eat after this feeling, The gnawing turns into intense growling and if I still don’t respond with food, I get a headache and start to feel defensive and pissed off. I find it best to eat when I am feeling hungry or even “really” hungry but when I wait until the headache pissed off stage, it isn’t pretty.
Emotional hunger is not so gentle, it is not a physical sensation and it happens only in my mind. It is typically instant and very persistent. If I have “issues” that need to be dealt with and I ignore my emotional hunger, I start to feel what I call “bingy” and if I don’t address that emotional problem, a binge usually ensues. My emotional hunger strikes for many reasons, some are deep seeded and some are more obvious like deprivation or stress. Sometimes, the bingy feeling lasts for days ending in a binge and sometimes, it comes on suddenly. I still struggle with identifying the emotional need but recently learned a new “technique” for dealing with it. Get this….just sit with it.
Since I have given up dieting, I haven’t felt bingy at all but I can not wait to put this new idea into practice. We have always heard to distract yourself, scrub the toilet, knit, chat on the phone but this sit with it concept is all new to me. I learned this on a new online community for itutive eaters and felt shocked and in awe when I read about it. One of the members is an intuitive eating counselor and she suggests using what she calls “The 15 minute method”. And really, it is brilliant. Her name is Shannon and she suggests sitting with the emotion for 15 minutes and if you still feel like eating/binging after 15 minutes to go for it. After all, food has been such a deep seeded coping skill that sometimes it is self care to do it, at least until we learn new ways. She also suggests having a temper tantrum! How fun is that? Seriously, I have totally felt like having a tantrum a time or two in my life and permission to do that sounds marvelous.
Even with all of my new insights about dealing with feeling “Bingy” and my awareness of hunger, I am still struggling with fullness. My RD told me that each person has to figure out what “satisfaction” is and it isn’t the same for any two people. People have told me about “the sigh” and I am not sure if I don’t always get it or I am just not listening for it. I think that my problem is trying to make my body fit with what other people say works for them. I guess you could say, I have that problem in more areas that feeling fullness but I digress . The past couple of days, I have been eating until I think I am satisfied, I don’t feel uncomfortable but have eaten a bit more than what I feel is my “satisfied”. I seem to get wrapped up in “am I full or not” and I start to second guess if I am or not. Then, I determine I am not and even though two more bites is what I need to feel satisfied, I take six and end up feeling a little too full. I have been doing very well with not eating past this point but I really need to learn to hone in on that just right feeling. This is a work in progress, that is for sure!
What are your hunger and fullness signals?