Intuitive Eating Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger
The second principle of intuitive eating is to honor your hunger. Hunger is a biological, hormonal response to lack of food that our bodies produce in order to motivate us to eat. When we get hungry, we might notice all sorts of individual symptoms- dizziness, irritability, stomach pains, headaches, stomach growling, difficulty concentrating, and more. This is our body telling us that it has been too long since we gave it any fuel, and that it needs food now!
Hunger is a normal response to lack of food, just like the responses our body has for when it lacks water, or when it lacks sleep. So often we see information about how to “trick” our body into not being hungry. “Drink water to curb hunger!” “go for a walk when you want a cookie!” or “Take this appetite suppressant!” But if our body is telling us that we need to eat...we need to eat! When you have the urge to go to the bathroom, you generally honor that urge. You don’t look for ways to outsmart the urge, or beat yourself up because you just went an hour or two ago.
But with hunger, for some reason we think that we can outsmart our bodies' need for food. And sometimes we can, for a few hours, or days, or weeks. But eventually our urge to eat will be overwhelming and we can feel a little out of control when we are around lots of food, leading to overeating, and often guilt. Then we tell ourselves to eat less the next day, we get overly hungry again...and the cycle repeats!
Honoring your hunger means feeding yourself adequate amounts of food (including adequate amounts of carbs!) at regular intervals, day in and day out. Feeding ourselves before we become ravenous means a more calm, positive eating experience. You might notice food tastes better if you are mildly hungry, but it’s hard to even taste the food when you’re starving and wolfing down your dinner.
This week, try practicing this principle in a simple way: when you are feeling physically hungry, eat!
Want help exploring this new way of thinking about food and nutrition? Reach out to us and set up a consultation with one of our Registered Dietitians today, or click this link to sign up for our 6-week online Intuitive Eating Program!
Author: Becca Sprague, MS, RD, LD