Help! I don't know when I'm hungry!
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
Someone posted a question on the Community Feed a while back; "How do you know when you're hungry?" Whoever you are, thank you - you really gave me something to think about! Honestly, I don't know when I'm hungry!
I was born in the 50s, my mom's first child. The staff at the hospital told her that formula was better than breast milk for babies, and to get her child on a 4 hour schedule right away. My mom was young; she believed the doctors; so I and my two siblings were bottle-fed every 4 hours. Formula gave way to Gerber cereals and baby foods, then the routine of breakfast / lunch / dinner. Plates were put in front of us kids already portioned, and we were required to eat what we were given. We could have seconds only if we cleaned our plate. We didn't snack - my parents weren't in that habit so we kids didn't pick it up till much later.
I became trained to eat food that I sometimes didn't like, in amounts too small or large, and on a schedule that suited work, family, and school demands rather than my body. Time went by...
Along came puberty, which began to plump me up a bit. Also, at that time I had several knee injuries, entailing casts and surgeries, so I became more sedentary. And my mom started working outside the home, so we kids began making some of our own meals.
Now I became "The Fat Girl" at school and at home. Eating was a pleasure and a comfort when I could have what I wanted when I wanted it, so I ate alone when allowed to. But at the family table, or during lunch at school, eating was shameful - people remarked on it, saying that's why I was so fat. This emotional turmoil became another layer separating me from knowing the true needs of my body.
Adulthood and motherhood, the rigid demands of time and budget, growing despair about my growing weight. Various diets - I'm gonna do a blog on those sometime! - with gimmicks, very low calories, fasts, etc. were bandaids, but not solutions. I distrusted hunger; eating made me fat. I distrusted non-hunger; if I listened to it for too long I'd have a complete food meltdown and eat straight through till bed time.
OK. Finally I found SparkPeople. That was late 2012. I'd got down from the low 300's to the 280's but fully expected to re-gain that weight as I'd always done before. Instead, in 2013 I lost consistently (THANK YOU SPARKPEOPLE!!!) & got below 200 lbs. by 1/1/14. I maintained at around 185 - 190 for 4 1/2 years, and in Dec. 2018 decided it was time to lose the rest of the excess weight. Which I'm working on now.
I'm retired. I have health, time, enough resources, and years of information to draw on. I'm trying to learn to listen to my body. But I can't get a handle on hunger.
Sometimes my mind is hungry. Scurrying about like a mouse in a maze; is it looking for something particular? sometimes, yes... or for just anything to munch? sometimes, yes, too... I feel that restlessness & ask myself "Is this hunger?" Maybe not, if I had a good meal within the past 2 or 3 hours. Just craving?
Sometimes it's my belly grumbling at me, but my brain doesn't want food at all, even if it's been 5 or 6 hours since the last meal.
Seldom are brain and belly on the same schedule. So I am still dependent on the clock. If it's been more than 4 hours since last meal & either brain or belly clambers for attention, I'll say OK! and eat. Feed the little munchie mouse in her mind-maze, even if the body isn't much interested. Or feed the grumbly tummy, even if the brain feels content. Just like the schedule the doctors decreed for me when I was born...
I don't know if I'll ever figure this out.