I'm hungry.

As I sit here and type, my stomach is emitting odd gurgles, churns, and groans. So, should I grab some grub? Maybe. But I’m not going to, and here’s why.

I’m experimenting with intermittent fasting, but probably not for the reason you think. 

Without a doubt, if you know anyone or read anything about health, you have heard the term intermittent fasting sometime in the last few years. In fact, its popularity has boomed as one more diet or lifestyle for those interested in weight loss.

There are a lot of intermittent fasting strategies/schedules out there, but right now I am testing a two-day fast for 16-18 hours. But rather than talk about the science and efficacy of this strategy, I want to talk to you about the “why” factor. As in “why am I on an intermittent fast?”

Breaking Free…From Myself
I’m not fasting to lose weight (although a few pounds might be nice). Instead, I am fasting to sharpen my resolve and learn more about myself. I want to practice being hungry or, more precisely, I need to practice being hungry.

I don’t know about you, but I can get hangry when I haven’t eaten for several hours. “Hangry” is of course when you’ve allowed yourself to get so hungry that your temper shortens, you become a little more irritable, and you’re not that fun to be around. So when you are hungry and your blood sugar drops, the “hangriness” sets in and you know what happens next? You eat crappy food, maybe even way too much of it.

Well, that’s me. After repeating this cycle for years I decided to “break the chains” of my appetite. After all, I’m a tough guy and can overcome a little thing like my own stomach, right?

Call 911!
Well, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. Because in an instance like this, we are literally fighting nature and the programming that is built into our bodies.

You see, the “hunter-gatherer” parts of our DNA were well-developed so that we could account for the scarcity of food that often plagued us as a species eons ago. That means that at the slightest hint of hunger, some of us still might go into panic mode and attempt to stock up on calories and food since we might not know when we could again eat.

The big problem is “that was then, this is now.” Most of us are fortunate enough to have access to food anytime we need it. So even though we don’t need to “stock up” on nutrition, we may be programmed to do it.

This habitual reaction is, of course, only one mechanism that can lead to binge eating. But for some of us—and I count myself in this group—it’s one of which we need to be aware. And I think it’s essential to call it out for what it is in instances like this—an overreaction to mild discomfort. 

I’m a food-centric person. And I’m the type of person that tends to “stock up” on unnecessary calories and food. But now, I’m determined to be the type of person that can change those behaviors.

If some of this is hitting home, here are a couple of techniques to try.

  1. Notice and name the messages your body is sending you. Is this actual hunger I am feeling? Or is it a latent physical signal being sent by simply being a human being? Or is it driven by an emotional trigger? Or maybe boredom? These are all important distinctions to note because if it is not real biological hunger—if our body doesn’t actually need nutrition and/or calories to keep going—then we need to work on our relationship with food.
  2. Sit in it. Take some time before you act on your perceived hunger. Realize that it is not an emergency and that you will survive. Often the “hunger” will subside. If you are still hungry after twenty minutes, eat something and be MINDFUL about what you choose rather than make a thoughtless choice and grab the garbage.
  3. Do something else active. This strategy plays into my previous suggestion. Getting your mind and/or body involved in something else can ward off hunger while getting something else done. Try going for a walk, dropping for ten pushups, or cleaning or organizing something you’ve been putting off.

How about you? Can you relate to this behavior? Have you tried anything that works? If you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them. I can use all the help I can get 🙂

–Coach Brad

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