Once Upon a Fat Girl

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Diet Survivor: Lesson #5

I am posting about the 60 lessons in The Diet Survivor's Handbook by Judith Matz and Ellen Frankel.

Lesson #5

Become mindful of whether you are experiencing stomach hunger or mouth hunger.

This...this is my kryptonite. This is what catches me up every time. Stomach hunger is a hungry body. Mouth hunger is a hungry brain. And not hungry for education or information. It's your brain telling you that you're hungry. It's boredom or fear or joy or lonliness or anxiety or excitement disguised as hunger.

I've had a hard time deciding when I'm really hungry--stomach hungry. Because--if I want food, doesn't that mean I'm hungry? Isn't that what hunger is? Do I have to be uncomfortably hungry? Does my stomach have to actually growl? Is there a certain number of minutes my stomach has to feel empty before I'm really, really truly hungry?

It's enough to make a girl crazy. It's been easier for me to go by the clock. If I just ate breakfast at 8 and I'm hungry at 9:30--it's likely mouth hunger. If I ate lunch at noon and now it's 6--stomach hunger. I know I'm supposed to listen to my body and not an outside source for my signals to eat.

But I think my body is broken. I think my little hunger sensor is broken. I've knocked it off kilter with too many years of binging and eating until I have to lean way back in my chair just to get a good deep breath. I've upset it with too many nights of sitting in bed at midnight with a snack as large as my dinner. With too many starvation diets and days when I sat alone staring at my fridge, knowing that the next I ate I would STILL be hungry.

I think it's repairable. I'm already feeling better about deciding whether I'm stomach or mouth hungry without looking at the clock.

Do skinny people do this? Do they agonize over whether their brain or their body is hungry? Do they try force themselves to stop eating when there is still half a slice of pizza, because they are full? Or does it come naturally to them?


Collect stomach hunger experiences, so that you can learn from them

Hmmm. I've learned that stomach hunger comes with other feelings besides wanting to eat. I might feel a little cranky, or lightheaded. (Not overly so, but I don't feel like that at all with mouth hunger.) If I'm mouth hungry usually only something like Cherry Garcia Frozen Yogurt will satisfy it. If I'm stomach hungry I want food food...a sandwich or chicken or something.

When I'm mouth hungry the only symptom is...I want to eat. Usually something sweet. Or something crunchy and salty.

What about you? How do you tell stomach hunger from mouth hunger?


Blogger Amazon Alanna said...

I have to be honest...sometimes I feed myself when it's mouth hunger, but usually I can satiate it with a piece of fruit...TG.

I think most women in our time have broken bodies...whether it be a broken hunger switch, broken self image...whatever. We all have missing pieces it seems.

5:32 PM  
Blogger elsie said...

I, too, have a terrible time with this differentiation. I'm getting better with it, though, sometimes.

I've started thinking of mouth hunger as a cry from some inner child, and instead of feeding it, I give it a big cuddle and a glass of water. It sounds silly, I know, but it seems to help. Maybe it's just filling the hole with something other thatn food?

4:43 AM  
Blogger SheShe said...

Wow, great Post!

You have truly opened my eyes to both sides of the spectrum!!

8:58 AM  
Blogger Anne M. said...

Thanks for this - good topic. The whole concept of allowing myself to be hungry is hard because I'm conditioned to just feeding and feeding the hunger without thinking about where it comes from. But the difference matters. The "broken hunger switch" thing certainly seems to make sense. Repairing it just takes a lot of time and careful attention.

9:04 AM  
Blogger TrixieBelden said...

I was just talking with my sister about this very thing - do I just want something to satisfy my mouth and my hands, or do I need something to satisfy my stomach. It's hard for me to distinguish between the two types of hunger. Yesterday was easier than today. I think it takes a lot of practice and it is something we constantly have to work at. I think some skinny people have to deal with this (those that haven't always been skinny), but I think most people who are thin have never had to fight with themselves on whether or not they should eat. Makes me jealous.

2:39 PM  

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