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We live in the most obese country in the world.  Vast numbers of Americans either struggle with weight loss - or have simply given up.  Over the last several months I've gone through a significant weight loss experience.  Not the first time in my life this has happened, but it is the first time that I feel like I have achieved genuine and lasting control of weight.  Along the way I think I may have learned a few things, especially about the nature of hunger and its relationship to weight control.  So, for what it may be worth, I wanted to share those thoughts.

My own personal history: I was a fat child, and a fattish teen.  Probably the second fatest person in my elementary school, at a time - the 1950s - when fat children were rather rare compared to today.  In my early 20s I discovered endurance exercise, ultimately becoming a bicycle road racer, distance runner and triathlete - which enabled me to achieve normal weight without ever having to come to terms with my relationship with food.  When you bike 300 miles a week, weight control rather stops being an issue.  But eventually, from my mid-30s on, various factors cut back on the exercise and weight control became an issue once again.  I went through the usual routine: periods of weight loss, followed by longer periods of gain, each one greater than the one before.  Never grossly obese, but usually heavier than I was happy with.  I'm now at the end of another of the periods of loss, at a weight I feel good about.  This time, more importantly, it feels permanent, partly because of some things I have learned about hunger.  Things I want to share:
If you pay attention to advertising for various weight-loss schemes, you will often see something like this: "Lose Weight Without Feeling Hungry!!"
Bullshit.  In order to lose weight, you have to put your body into a catabolic state - where the body has used up its readily available stores of blood sugar and glycogen and falls back on consuming fat.  And you can't get there without some hunger.  AND THAT'S FINE!  Hunger is OK!  Hunger is a natural part of life.
I've spent quite a bit of time traveling in France.  When a waiter brings you a meal in France, they always say: "bon appetit!"  That is to say: "good appetite"  Or, to say it another way, they are wishing you hunger.  The hunger you need to truly savor your meal.  The hunger that lets you know it really is time to eat.
Too many of us in the US - assuming we are in the comfortable classes - never really experience hunger.  We eat for sensory pleasure, we eat from boredom, we eat to satisfy emotional needs.  And in the process, we never really learn to have a relationship with hunger.  And, when we don't get to know hunger, when we don't know what hunger is, we also don't know what hunger is NOT.
And here are a few of the things hunger is not:
"My that looks tasty - I think I'll have some" - is not hunger.
"I'm bored - wonder what's in the fridge" - is not hunger.
"I didn't sleep well last night, my energy is low" - is not hunger.
"I'm sort of full - but that was so good - maybe I'll have a little more" - is not hunger.
"Ooh! - I saw an ad for that, it looked so good - I think I'll try some" - is not hunger.
"I have this project to do that I really don't want to face - wonder what's in the fridge" - is not hunger.

But, here's the thing: If you never get to experience real hunger - the physical signals of low blood sugar that tell you you need food - it's is very easy to kid yourself that any or all of the above are hunger.
And the only way to break that habit is to get familiar with hunger, to make it your friend, to get to know it as a daily experience.  Only by doing that does it become second nature to recognize that none of those other things are actually hunger.
The biggest learning from my recent weight loss experience is that hunger is not something to be avoided - it's the signal that tells me weight loss is happening, so I learned to welcome it.  It is, rather, something to be managed, controlled, used.  During my losing phase, I would often become hungry 90 minutes or so before a meal.  For a limited time, I could handle that.  But I knew I wasn't going to have to handle it forever - my weight loss phase was time-limited.  Now that I'm into maintenance, I'm usually becoming hungry more about 30 minutes before a meal - much easier to tolerate, and just about right.  And it is, genuinely, a feeling I've learned to welcome - it tells me that yes, it really is time to eat.  I know that if the next meal time comes and I'm not hungry, the last meal was too large - so it helps me in learning to adjust my eating.  But I don't want to be hungry for hours, so if I'm getting hungry too soon, the last meal was too small.  Hunger has become a tool, a signal, a friend.  It has become part of the toolbox of learnings that are going to make it possible to maintain my new weight longterm.  
Bon Appetit!

Originally posted to Chico David RN on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 07:29 PM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (121+ / 0-)

    "Wouldn't you rather vote for what you want and not get it than vote for what you don't want - and get it?" Eugene Debs. "Le courage, c'est de chercher la verite et de la dire" Jean Jaures

    by Chico David RN on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 07:29:16 PM PDT

  •  An interesting perspective (28+ / 0-)

    I too am grappling with weight loss, and have been trying to learn to deal with hunger. So I can relate to what you have written. I'm learning to handle it, to some extent, but it's hard. Thanks for your thoughts.

  •  I like feeling hungry, to an extent (8+ / 0-)

    Because, as you note, it means that I'm not simply eating from boredom or habit, but am eating more for subsistence.  Plus, I'm possibly losing weight.

    Although, I'm a lowered-carb eater, so the blood sugar level variance is not terribly great throughout the day and doesn't affect nearly as much as when I ate a different balance.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 08:55:33 PM PDT

    •  Cutting starchy sugary carbs is key to hunger (8+ / 0-)

      managment. When I do Atkins, after a few days I have no hunger, becuase i have no sugar blood spikes

      •  Just started a new diet based on "fasting" (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader, merrywidow

        It is the Five/Two diet and I am liking it.

        Limiting myself to 500 calories two days a week seems pretty easy.

        And the poeple bowed and prayed To the neon god they made...

        by third Party please on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:58:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I'm not even doing Atkins (5+ / 0-)

        just reducing glycemic load (basically cutting carbs and sugars), and I don't get hungry. I used to have hypoglycemic events (blood sugar crashes due to elevated insulin stimulated by carb/sugar intake) if I didn't have lunch by around 11AM and dinner by 5PM. I got stuck putting off lunch until 1PM the other day, and my stomach felt empty, but I didn't experience the really unpleasant low blood sugar, and dinner is now closer to 6PM.

        Add to that a little vigorous exercise most days, and I've lost about 6 pounds in the last 3 or 4 weeks - all the weight I accumulated over the winter.

        Everybody's different and I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all scheme to healthy eating. Getting a blood test is a good place to start: my cholesterol has always been in the 150 range (below 200 is good), my hemoglobin A1C (long term indicator of blood glucose level) indicates I'm not diabetic, but my liver enzymes (AST and ALT) were slightly elevated, indicating the potential for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

        My doctor first thought the elevated liver enzymes might be due to meds, but the levels were low enough that the risk of the meds was worth it. Then I cut back on carbs, and my liver enzymes fell back to normal levels. The incidence of NAFLD is increasing and related to the increases in insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes, which are also carb-intake related.

        No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

        by badger on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 11:10:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Delaying hunger (16+ / 0-)

    I've been dieting for almost exactly a year and have lost just over 30Kg or 20% of my starting weight.

    You can considerably delay the onset of hunger during the day if you have a proper protein based breakfast. A couple of eggs - scrambled or poached for example - on 2 slices of wholewheat toast or those slices of toast topped with peanut butter are examples. These are digested slowly and equally release their energy slowly so you should not feel hungry until at least lunchtime.

    Note I did say wholewheat bread. Other whole grain breads like rye or even pumpernickel are equally good but NEVER white - and in my experience US supermarket stuff it only tastes of high fructose corn syrup anyway. If you can buy sliced so you can keep it fresh in the freezer - and it is a bit of a hassle to prepare so you are not tempted to have "just another slice".

    A good way of starting is a water/juice/fruit fast over 3 or 4 days - starting with plain water, adding a little juice after a day and then progressing to whole fruit (only) on the last day. That helps to get you back in touch with feeling hungry and understand that there are not dire consequences if you are for a few days. It also starts shrinking your stomach which is part of the long term strategy of eating less than your previous lifestyle

    "Who stood against President Obama in 2012?" - The trivia question nobody can answer.

    by Lib Dem FoP on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 08:57:27 PM PDT

  •  This is a lesson I'm finally learning (9+ / 0-)

    At my weight, I'm on the lower end of the obese range of the BMI. The best thing that works for me is to cut consumption (either limiting my carbohydrate consumption to 50g/meal or eating normally one day and cutting back substantially the next. Yes, I get hungry. But avoiding hunger clearly hasn't worked for me. It also helps me a lot if I walk to work (1.25 miles) a few days a week. I think I'll make it this time. Thanks for your post.

    "A long habit of not thinking a thing wrong gives it a superficial appearance of being right" - Thomas Paine

    by grothenberger on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 08:58:23 PM PDT

  •  I am on the flat belly diet (17+ / 0-)

    This consists of 100 calories of mono unsaturated fat with each meal. I have the total opposite feeling. After each meal I will feel very full. This feeling returns with just any type of fluid intake for up to 6 hours. I know you have to find what works for each of us. I do like the concept of hunger but feeling full has curbed my appetite and given me the energy to work out which is where my weight loss has come from.
    Just a little bragging. I have lost over 20 pounds since October and am at the lowest weight in over 15 years.

    I don't hit. But I do hit back

    by mcgee85 on Mon Apr 15, 2013 at 09:14:10 PM PDT

  •  Not to use a cliche, but this has given me (13+ / 0-)

    food for thought!

    I've kept my 60 lb weight loss off for three years now, but I've struggled this whole time with the final 10 to 15 that I think would bring me to where I should be at my age.  

    I'm rarely if ever truly hungry.  I was hungry as a child, and alone most of the time, so hunger can be a demon for me.  Your diary has really given me that little spark I needed to actually allow myself to explore real hunger.  I'm going to do so today!

    Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience here.  It was very timely for me.  Fits that saying:  "When the student is ready, the teacher will come."

  •  I have experienced true hunger at least twice in (8+ / 0-)

    my life, the first when I had encephalitis and was lost in fever dreams for a good bit of the time (this was when there was only penicillin)  Somehow I forgot how to eat or to eat or something.  The hunger was there, but I could not organize myself well enough to do anything about it, if that makes sense.  I went for 9 days without eating at a stretch and my weight dropped from 215 to 142.

    The next time was when I was 50 and had to have surgery after an accident.  After the surgery, I could not eat for a week due to extreme uncontrolled nausea. My weight dropped from 301 to 255.  Since then, I go through periods of anorexia punctuated by periods of extreme hunger where no matter how much I eat, I cannot be sated.  My weight tends to yo yo since then between 250 and 275 as I go through periods of not eating and periods of not being sated.  Really quite odd but it seems that experiences in my life have rewired the way my body experiences hunger so that it is a constant roller coaster

  •  Good and timely suggestions. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SuetheRedWA, viral

    I quit smoking forever three weeks ago and gained six pounds that I definitely don't need. My next focus will be weight loss and an exercise program.

    I was a skinny, active kid and weight gain didn't become an issue until after menopause. I'm now age 69, amazed how the years and pounds crept up so quickly. At least I can do something about the pounds.

    The diary has me remembering how the feeling of hunger was welcome, to an extent, when I was much younger. I actually liked that sense of being lean and hungry, and during my 20s and 30s could forget to eat for more than a day at a time. I can't forget to eat for long now because of swings in blood sugar. But I can experiment with shorter periods of hunger, as the diary suggests.

    “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” ― Chief Seattle

    by SoCalSal on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 04:04:24 AM PDT

    •  I had problems with "swings in blood sugar" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      on and off most of my life, until I finally reduced the amount of carbs and sugar I take in. This site will give you the approximate glycemic load (basically how fast your blood sugar increases from a food, stimulating insulin production) for most foods.

      I quit smoking two years ago yesterday at 9AM, and put on a little weight, lost some and then about 5 lbs over winter. I've lost all of that and a little more in the last 3-4 weeks, and have also lost the cravings for food (not even hunger) that developed when I quit smoking, plus I don't have the blood sugar crashes any more. I don't get hungry - not in the low blood sugar way, anyway.

      But don't let weight/eating rationalize your way back to smoking again. If nothing else, you can eat fabulously on what you used to spend on cigarettes.

      No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up - Lily Tomlin

      by badger on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 11:22:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks, badger. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        badger, viral

        That link seems to be broken, but I might have found it here?

        Nothing will get me to smoke again; after smoking for 99.99% of the past 45 years, I am free of cigarettes and immensely enjoying the freedom.  Nicotine replacements (gum, lozenges) do help, and I look forward to completely dropping those, too.

        Congrats to you on being cigarette free for two years!

        My six pound weight gain doesn't bother me so much because daughter and I will begin a serious weight loss and exercise regimen next week. This week we're developing our plan. My recent weight gain was from indulging in very dark chocolate for a feel-good factor during the first three weeks of not smoking. Now I can cut back on the chocolate fairly easily. Taking it one step at a time. ;)

        “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children” ― Chief Seattle

        by SoCalSal on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 12:22:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I stopped eating wheat and sugar (9+ / 0-)

    not a full-on low-carb diet by any means, just cut out those two things and upped the percentage of calories that I get from fat. And now, my experience of hunger is totally different. It used to be this painful, grinding thing, I used to get hungry between meals, I used to be triggered to night-time noshing. I used to care a lot more about what I ate and spend a lot more time planning and thinking about eating.

    As long as I keep to it, weight very slowly ticks off -- a pound every two weeks or so. But I wouldn't care if it just let me maintain without focusing on food so much. My body just feels like it works different -- better tone to my muscles and skin without changing my exercise habits much. I feel less anxious about my body and appearance without anything having substantially changed (but somehow everything has changed).

    I have tried so many things over the years and been frustrated -- ultra low fat and veganism in the 90s (made me get fatter), Weight Watchers (grinding belly pangs distracting me from work all day) and excessive exercise (took off 60 pounds but hard on the body) in the 00s, calories in/calories out tracking over the last few years (WTF plateau).  

    I don't know what it is in those two substances that triggers cravings and unreasonable hunger (well, OK, it's possibly gliadin binding to your opiate receptors in wheat, and cyclic insulin/sugar spikes from eating simple carbs) but if I have to avoid them to feel right it's what I'm going to do. I don't want to seek those feelings of hunger, nor do I feel virtuous about enduring the pangs. When I was doing CI/CO I tried to tell myself that the feeling of "deficit" was good but it was actually a sort of wired anxiety. I would like for my body to feel well-regulated, and for reasonable amounts of food to sustain me from meal to meal without being distracted either by hunger or by impulses to graze.

    Do you not see that it is the grossest idolatry to speak of the market as though it were the rival of God?

    by kismet on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 04:17:54 AM PDT

  •  Thanks. (0+ / 0-)

    The highest form of spiritual practice is self observation with compassion.

    by NCJim on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 04:24:41 AM PDT

  •  Thanks for this diary, Chico David (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peglyn, Bill W, viral

    Cheers to your journey to lose weight.  It sounds as if you have mastered the situation and are making excellent progress.  You're an inspiration to the rest of us who are struggling with this issue.

    I've just woken up early with a headache.  Mondays and Thursdays are my "fast" days. Just weighed myself to find I'm at my lowest weight in a year, so I'm very pleased.

    On "fast" days I eat 500 calories, spread out over the day, balanced among fruit, green vegetables, and protein. Last week I tried doing it the way the author of the book does it--big breakfast, fast until dinner time, then fish and vegetables.  That doesn't work for me--it makes me feel ill.  The other way does work, and I've been on it for two months now.

    My weight gain has been due to sheer self-indulgence. I do exercise at the gym, but my downfall is sweets. Trying to get control of that too. I now have two-and-a-half pounds to lose. I won't manage it before my son's wedding, but at least I'll be able to get into the suit I want to wear.  :)

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 04:25:01 AM PDT

    •  My wife and I are about to start... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Diana in NoVa

      ...that diet. How long have you been on it, and do you have any other advice?  We've got a wedding coming up as well.

      •  Bill W, to avoid boredom, it's a good idea to (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Bill W, viral

        download a menu for your "fast" days--500 calories for your wife, 600 calories for you.

        I downloaded one that offers seven days' worth of menus.  I picked two of the least onerous.  One day would look like this:

        1.  Breakfast--orange, with cup of coffee or tea with milk.

        Snack--1 piece Melba toast

        2.  Lunch--3.5 oz. chicken, 6 oz. spinach

        3. Dinner--3.5 oz. tilapia, 6 oz. broccoli

        Snacks:  Piece of melba toast (20 calories)
        A medium apple

        Total is 470 calories

        I eat my apple in place of dessert at dinner time, and my piece of melba toast at tea time. As a man, you'd be able to add 100 calories to this menu.

        Unfortunately, I can't remember which Web site had the whole menu.  Bummer!  Anyway, I wanted to lose 7 pounds before the wedding.  Here we are at week 6 and I've lost four and a half.  I'll keep on it for a while because it's so easy and the other days I can eat what I want. (But I do find myself eating less on the "free" days.)

        "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

        by Diana in NoVa on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:17:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I like the quotes on fast (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viral, mrkvica

      I became a vegetarian as an adult 44 years ago. Never regretted it. I did a lot of fasting (no quotes) in the earlier days. For a period of several months I ate a couple of meals (salads) a week. Never felt better, before or since. Now, at 67, no conditions, medications, or doctors, except for the occasional sport injury.

      No food for one day is a minimal fast. Three days is minimum to get a good cleansing response from your body.

      It ain't easy - the first day is the hardest, and it's absolutely critical to research the program before doing it.

      A key part of dieting is changing your relationship with eating. Skipping a meal is no big deal. I had to learn that when I was young and couldn't get decent vegetarian food on the road. Everything else made me ill. Real fasting takes that to another level. You realize that not only do you not have to eat every day, it's good for you if you do it right, and it feels really good.

  •  Good luck on your goals David (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'm on the no starch thing now, it's worked before and I like being able to eat.

    I can go a few days without eating and feel fine. I've done it before. I dont' like to though. It's hard when we have  fridge full of good food and supermarkets everywhere.

    How big is your personal carbon footprint?

    by ban nock on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 05:22:40 AM PDT

  •  Congratulations ! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    gaining control of  weight issues is a majot accomplishment.
    I'm 64 and am just inside the right side of my BMI index.
    I watch what I eat, work out and swim 3 halfmiles per week. I do a 3 1/2 mile hike throgh the woods almost every day.

    My personal "Am I fit enough?" test is to be able to run a hundred yard sprint from a standing start, turn and look over my shouldr and then run another 100 yard sprint.
    As long as I can do that, I'm fit enough. When I can't do that I may stop traveling

    Happy just to be alive

    by exlrrp on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 05:37:19 AM PDT

  •  I have to carefully manage my hunger so that (6+ / 0-)

    when I get truly hungry I can eat then. Because I have found that when I get truly hungry my blood sugar drops and I get shaky and irrational; not a time to be messing about with sharp knives and gas stoves and boiling liquids!  So I eat on a schedule. The annoyance of the schedule is balanced by the comfort of not having the blood sugar bottoming out and not having episodes of weeping randomly like a small child without a nap.

    If I've managed it right, true hunger rises up just about the time I'm putting it on the table, and that way I eat then when I need to. It also increases faith in myself that I will be fed. I am the only person with this blood sugar issue in my family of origin, and they tend to have an unscheduled life. I don't wait for food well.

    When you come to find how essential the comfort of a well-kept home is to the bodily strength and good conditions, to a sound mind and spirit, and useful days, you will reverence the good housekeeper as I do above artist or poet, beauty or genius.

    by Alexandra Lynch on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 05:39:23 AM PDT

  •  Women Food and God (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Knockbally, mrkvica

    is the title of a book and an on-line program by Geneen Roth. Weight and food issues are not gender specific and neither is the information GR shares, so the title is rather unfortunate.

    Her message is not a how-to, but a lean into hunger: recognize the sensation of hunger, eat when hungry, stop eating when full; not for hunger's sake but for the sake of returning to a place of trusting our bodies.  Best of all, it is a blessed freedom from the cycle of dieting.

    Congrats, Chico David, on learning your body's hunger cues.

  •  Well, I think we're seeing the variability in (7+ / 0-)

    human experience.  In my recent weight loss, I lost weight without hunger.  I did so by cutting out the foods I knew would radically jack my blood sugar up, then let it crash back down.  For me, hunger was not a sign that weight loss was occurring, but that I had actually eaten too many carbs in too short a time, and merely that my blood sugar was jumping around too quickly.  I could be hungry AND gaining weight.  The key to my own weight loss was actually being able not to be hungry.

    •  there is so much variability (3+ / 0-)

      I don't think I'd do well on a high-protein diet again (it gave me almost constant heartburn),

      However, I do know that I should cut down on refined carbohydrates.  Or rather cut OUT refined carbs.  It's my big weakness - candy and cake and ice cream and etc.  Very bad for me, and I know they cause hunger crashes with feelings of wooziness and random grumpiness.

      Hunger is such a mixed bag for me.  I am sometimes uncomfortable when I feel not-hungry.  Like after a filling, high-protein breakfast.  I get freaked out that I'm not hungry at lunch.

      I think it's because I want to leave room for sweets.  Le sigh.  :-(

      The earth is what we all have in common. ~ Wendell Berry

      by Knockbally on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 08:32:36 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  A diary about personal transformation, (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    srkp23, Knockbally, viral, mrkvica

    written from personal experience. It's a "personal" diary, but of course it belongs in this venue.

    On a purely practical note, lunch usually lasts me fairly well till dinner, but I'm often excessively hungry well before lunch. This has persisted since childhood. I've "tweaked" my breakfast this way and that, so it's lower on the glycemic index, and this and that, but I haven't hit on the solution yet.

    In general, the best meditation on hunger I have ever read is titled, appropriately enough, "Hunger," by Anne Lammott. It comes from her essay collection "Traveling Mercies," and describes how her relationship to food changed after she got sober. Elsewhere, writing about the crisis in fossil fuels, I described this essay as a "powerful allegory for change in society."

    Thanks. Tipped and rec'd.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 06:37:04 AM PDT

  •  I was obese very recently (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    srkp23, MichaelPH, viral

    I have lost 30kg in the last 16 months. I still have 25kg to lose.

    And I fully agree with what you say in your diary. Good points.

  •  Calorie counting (7+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the story. A year ago I downloaded a fitness tracking/calorie counting app on my phone and used it religiously. I started walking, added biking and then a little jogging. I ate 1800 calories  day and burned 3800 per day. I lost 90 lbs in 6 months and have kept it off.

    Now that it is warming up I hope to get out more and lose the last 10lbs. I just completed a half marathon on the weekend. The thing that helped me the most was that my wife did it all with me. We would still eat out on occasion, share an ice cream cone, or splurge on a cheeseburger on the weekend.

    Words can barely describe how much better I feel. I can play with the kids, run up stairs and work around the house without breaking into a sweat.

    •  It certainly does help (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viral, dsb

      to have someone to join you.  I find it extremely difficult to motivate myself.  And since I spend so much time alone, this entails not only a change in my relationship to food, but also a change in my relationship to...

      That may be even harder than the food part!

      Good luck on your last 10 lbs.

      Welcome from the DK Partners & Mentors Team. If you have any questions about how to participate here, you can learn more at the Knowledge Base or from the New Diarists Resources Diaries. (Click on orange text to go to linked content.) Diaries labeled "Open Thread" are also great places to ask. We look forward to your contributions.

      Words can sometimes, in moments of grace, attain the quality of deeds. --Elie Wiesel

      by a gilas girl on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 10:30:23 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  women, food, and god...geneen roth (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    srkp23, bewild, Knockbally, mrkvica

    great book. basically says you cannot be over weight unless you are eating without mindfulness. she says we have to break the cycle of restriction of food, and rewarding with food. dieting does not work because it feeds that compulsive cycle of restriction and reward. i think we need to move away from the notion that being overweight is caused by eating too much. it is, yes. But i think its more accuate to say its caused by eating mindlessly and out of connection with body. Reconnecting with body, especially if there is trauma or reason for dissociation is harder than folks may think. It means not eating in front of t.v or in the car. It means taking time to eat and feel your meals. It means taking a slower approach to food in a world of "fast food". great post!

    •  This is flat-out wrong. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FutureNow, awakenow, viral
      you cannot be over weight unless you are eating without mindfulness
      Eating mindfully is important regardless of one's weight, and regardless of whether or not one is trying to lose or gain weight.  It is a valuable practice in itself, for multiple reasons.

      But it is perfectly possible to eat mindfully and still be "overweight."

    •  That's true for me (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viral, mrkvica

      I have read Roth's books, and should read them again.  Just recently I stepped back to see how I was eating.  I'd been pretty depressed for about a year.  I'd lost a beloved cat, two temp jobs (long, weird stories), and was struggling to write a thesis.  

      So now that things have started to go better, I noticed that I have been watching t.v. /netflix while popping M&Ms - for hours.  And drinking diet beverages, ha ha.  

      I bought a couple of large bags of M&Ms this Saturday, and realized on Monday that I'd FINISHED one over the weekend.  That's got to be a good 2400 calories.  Last night watched my hand reach for the drawer and pull out the candy.  Almost automatic - without thinking.

      Dissocation is a good way to put it.  I hope, among other things, to become more aware of what I'm eating when and why I'm eating.  

      The earth is what we all have in common. ~ Wendell Berry

      by Knockbally on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 08:01:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Sounds like a recipe (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    elsaf, viral

    for you to carry on yoyo-ing to me. I am currently on a diet and hunger is not a part of the diet. The whole purpose for me is to attain a sustainable and enjoyable pattern that is neutral in terms of weight gain. If I am constantly hungry that may happen for a month or two but eventually I will lose and slide into bad habits.

    FWIIW my sustainable and non-hungry diet:
    Breakfast 8.00 AM Oatmeal and Milk (lactaid)

    Lunch 3.00 PM raw veg (cauli, cabbage, green onion, radishes in any combination) some sunflower seeds and a basalmic vinegar based dressing - I do vary this a bit) This tastes really good - honest!

    Supper 6.00 PM Whatever I like or gets put in front of me

    8.00PM A little cottage cheese.

    The oatmeal is the absolute key as I really can go until 6.00 PM comfortably without hunger pangs if I have to. I also go out for the occasional meal, have the occasional large glass of wine or beer. If I do this I don't even think about being on a diet.

    Good luck with yours but I really would rethink the constant hunger thing - suspect that is a remnant of the endurance athelete mentality.

  •  You don't have to feel hungy (6+ / 0-)

    I agree with most of what the diarist said, but I disagree that you won't lose weight unless you feel hungry.

    I've been heavy all my adult life. (I was normal weight as a child. My overweight began with puberty.)

    I've tried just about every mainstream weight reduction plan to come along in the last 45 years (I'm over 60). I've lost weight, I've regained it. Always a bit more each time.

    I hope I'm on my final loss right now. I was diagnosed with diabetes six weeks ago. I'm currently following a low-carb (obviously) regime at a lower total calorie level than any plan I've ever used (with the exception of the liquid "modified fast" under medical supervision I tried in the 1990s).

    I'm almost never hungry.

    Why not? Because I eat every two hours. I exercise moderately (no endurance activities). My meals are between 50 calories and 300 calories. (Most are 100-200). I balance my protein, carbs and fat about equally. (I try to keep each in the 30% of calories range.)

    I'm losing between 1 and 2 pounds a week. (The first couple of weeks, my loses were larger.)

    Food prep is minimal. A meal might be a small piece of cheese, or a chicken sausage heated in the microwave with just a little mustard. Or I might have a half-cup of cottage cheese or 3 ounces of tuna with 1 tablespoon light mayo.

    The result is very consistent blood sugar. I've only had one spike in the last three weeks. And I seldom get a low result on my tests.

    This has changed my relationship to food. I'm no longer spending half the day planning and preparing a big meal. I just keep my fridge stocked with easy to grab snack/meals and spend very little time thinking about food at all.

    In six weeks, I've seldom been tempted to "cheat."

    I'm down a full size already, and I hope this will continue indefinitely.

    Incidentally, I never felt hungry on the modified fast (way back in 1990). I had a "shake" every two to three hours and after the first week, hunger was a thing of the past. There were cravings... terrible cravings, but never hunger. The diet was a failure because at the end, I hadn't developed any new eating habits. And I was DYING to eat solid food again.

    Wealth doesn't trickle down -- it rises up.

    by elsaf on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:27:45 AM PDT

  •  It is definitely important to learn to recognize (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Knockbally, elsaf, awakenow, viral, mrkvica

    the difference between genuinely being hungry and just feeling like eating something.

    That is not to say that it is never okay to eat when one is not truly hungry -- but one should be aware that one is doing so.

  •  This is a very important point. (0+ / 0-)

    Hunger is part of weight control and is normal. If you aren't experiencing real stomach rumbling hunger at least once a day you are probably eating too much.

    "For people who profess to revere the Constitution, it is strange that they so caustically denigrate the very federal government that is the material expression of the principles embodied in that document." Mike Lofgren

    by GANJA on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 07:51:25 AM PDT

  •  FWIW (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Knockbally, viral

    I have been a vegan for over 3 months and I eat whatever I feel like.  I am never hungry.  I have not gained any weight.

    It's amazing.  I am very, very happy with my food and pretty darn happy with myself.  

    It's the Supreme Court, stupid!

    by Radiowalla on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 08:00:34 AM PDT

  •  Hunger (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    awakenow, viral, mrkvica, ozajh, churchylafemme

    You bring up some really interesting things about our experience of hunger, and how we handle it.  

    I've been trying to find a way of eating that I can settle in to and continue.  With Weight Watchers, I had structure and a good selection of foods, as well as the ability to count exercise as part of my "Points".  But I was starving. All.  The.  Time.  

    Some of the women at meetings claimed to feel no hunger at all - others said "maybe you're really just thirsty!"  

    At any rate, I have recently let myself feel hunger between meals, allowing myself to realize it's not going to hurt me to feel it for a little while.  I don't have to feel starving all the time, but even if I'm not "dieting", I maybe could make a habit of recognizing my hunger.

    The earth is what we all have in common. ~ Wendell Berry

    by Knockbally on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 08:23:04 AM PDT

    •  It may not be just 'claimed' (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      churchylafemme, Knockbally

      I have been overweight or obese for my entire life, currently 35kg (about 75lb) less than I was 2 years ago but still as much again to go.  (And I'm finding it MASSIVELY more difficult to lose now that my blood pressure is back to normal and I can walk easily and more or less fit car/plane seats etc.)

      Point being, I can only remember feeling hungry a few times in 50 years, and then only when I have actually started eating.  I have on occasions gone without ANY food for 24+ hours, with no sensation except a vague feeling of emptiness.

      This can be a big (pardon the pun) problem at times, because I don't have a mechanism telling me NOT to eat.  For example, when I was still working I could eat a HUGE buffet lunch and unless I consciously stopped myself would still eat a normal dinner.  Another pound on right there!

  •  Several years ago a Peace Corps volunteer (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in Africa was interviewed on NPR. One of the lessons she said she had learned was the true meaning of the word, "gluttony" -- eating when you aren't actually hungry anymore.

    To put the torture behind us is, inevitably, to put it in front of us.

    by UntimelyRippd on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 08:56:35 AM PDT

  •  When I was 30 (8+ / 0-)

    I weighed 220 lbs on a 5'3" small frame. I was extremely fat and miserable. I had been put on prednisone to combat what turned out to be the first symptoms of auto immune disorders that would plague me for years.

    I was trying to lose weight, WW meetings, crazy diets, and limiting food. I was stuck because of the long taper down of the steroids and didn't know where to turn. A doctor sent me to a weight loss doctor who told me of a great surgery, gastric by-pass, that would fix me.

    The doctor was a butcher. He didn't staple my stomach he cut it in half along with my vegus nerve. He removed most of my small intestine and made the hole that empties my stomach so small that very little could pass. I threw up many times daily for years, ruined my teeth, and instantly became lactose intolerant and hypoglycemic do to "dumping syndrome". My body thinks every meal is huge and over produces insulin.

    Oh, and I became an alcoholic. I never liked it before but when something can instantly enter your system it changes how you react to it and I had a family history. It  was a double whammy and down I went. I've been sober for two decades.

    Cut to 20yrs later. I somehow managed to gain weight. I read all I could and ended up going on Atkins. It was a diet that didn't cause me to have blood sugar swings and after the first few days you stop getting hungry so you don't eat very much at a sitting. It worked! I lost 70 lbs. But, now I am so sensitive to carbs that I am underweight and fight to put a pound on without setting of blood sugar spikes and drops.

    Losing weight is never a simple matter and no matter what one person's experience is you have to make decisions for yourself, not based on others IMO.

    "The scientific nature of the ordinary man is to go on out and do the best you can." John Prine

    by high uintas on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 08:56:37 AM PDT

  •  I had a weightloss surgery about 2 1/2 years ago, (6+ / 0-)

    and I haven't felt "hunger" ever since.

    In my case that is a bit of a problem, because the feeling of hunger reminds you to eat... I don't feel hungry anymore. EVER.

    I've stood up, gotten dizzy, then had to stop and think of when the last time I ate was, which often turns out to be days ago.

    I just never think of eating anymore, I am never hungry. They warned this is one of the biggest side effects of the surgery I had (gastric sleeve), and that I was really going to have to remind myself to eat, so intellectually I "knew" that going in, but "knowing" something, and experiencing it are two ENTIRELY different things.

    Don't get me wrong I am not complaining, I have lost well over 200lbs, and am truly "thin" for the first time of my life, and have had no problem keeping the weight off... but there was a learning curve involved.

    Now I know that I have to set alarms on my phone to remind me to eat, and without them, I just won't even think to eat, and make myself sick. Which is a little bit of an annoyance, but a minor irritation is infinitely preferable to having to struggle to tie your own shoes, or get out of bed in the morning let me tell you...

    Overall I am extremely happy with the decision I made, and I would honestly recommend it to anyone else is morbidly obese, and healthy enough to undergo such a procedure.

    It was life changing for me, I cannot even describe exactly how much my quality of life has changed since having the surgery. For me I think the biggest thing is I just "feel" better, and I can do so many things that I physically could not do before, it is just so difficult to describe.

    There are just so many things you miss out on in life when you're grossly overweight. So many things you literally cannot do... Things you don't even realize you were missing until you drop a few hundred pounds, and then you're like "Wow! I am so glad I got to experience this!"

    For instance there is this absolutely gorgeous beach where I live, it's hidden though. You have to trek through the woods, and then it is below a giant cliff, and you have to be able to climb up, and down the cliff to get to it.

    I've lived the majority of my life near this beach, had heard about it, but had never been able to experience it myself before, because I couldn't make the climb... I told myself "Oh, a beach is a beach is a beach. What's so special about this one?", and that I wasn't missing anything.

    I have been to that beach many times over the past two years, and let me tell you... I was missing out.

    "It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion." Oscar Wilde, 1891

    by MichiganGirl on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 09:17:00 AM PDT

  •  There's also the other side of hunger (4+ / 0-)

    Namely, feeling full, or even just no longer hungry. I once had a small skinny little friend who would eat like day laborer just home from digging ditches. She would be shoveling it down and then all of the sudden just stop. Sometimes she would announce "I'm full"--sometimes not. But she would simply stop eating. That was a novel concept to me! When you are full, stop eating. If something was good I would eat more of it. I was also raised to "clean your plate, there are children starving in China." I"m aware of the logical fallacy of that argument, but it remains emotionally true. I still find it hard to stop eating when there is still food on my plate, but I'm working on it.

    If your internal map of reality doesn't match external conditions, bad things happen.--Cambias

    by pimutant on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 09:30:22 AM PDT

    •  I think people experience these cues differently. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      viral, churchylafemme

      I have NEVER felt full while eating.  Half an hour after eating, I feel full, or that I have eaten too much.  But I have to know how much will probably make me feel full, then wait and find out if I am right.  If  I am starving when a meal starts, I will be starving throughout the whole meal.  

  •  Interesting discussion (4+ / 0-)

    Regarding weight loss, the biggest problem, imho, is the quality of our food is so abysmally low.  So much processed, chemical-filled garbage.  Eat natural, unprocessed food and you'll go a long way.  Don't eat "diet" or "low fat" crap, just eat real food.  Fruits, vegetables, and if you choose meat, don't buy cheapo factory-farmed, hormone-laden, who-knows-what-it's-fed stuff.  Buy quality food.  Garbage in, garbage out.

    Second, lately I've been trying to think "how will this food make me feel" instead of "how will this food taste."  We've trained our brain to think that all kinds of garbage tastes good.  That can be undone and your brain can get rewired.  Quality, healthy food tastes great, too, your brain just might need some time to get used to it.  Eating bad food always makes me feel bad, though, I just wasn't that conscious of it before.  Now I start to think "is it work feeling like crap all night, or would I rather just have an apple?"

  •  I have lost 40 lbs this year - 20 more to go (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelPH, viral, churchylafemme

    I have struggled with weight most of my life

    Several times I have lost weight by going on through exercise, most recently when I started running marathons.  But with kids, work etc.  I found I just didn't have the time, and my weight just kept going up

    About a year ago, I had a physical, and my blood work came back pre-diabetic.  With a history of diabetes in my family I decided that this could not stand.  So I started cutting back on the amount of food I ate.  Not having the midnight snacks was the hardest.  I would wake up at 2 AM desperate for a snack.  It took almost 3 months to beat that one.  

    Now, I cut myself down to one meal a day, and one or two "half meals"   -  I have more energy, and I look a lot better.  

    I say that I am like the dos equies guy - except instead of  "stay thirsty my friend"  I say "stay hungry my friend"

  •  I don't mind feeling hungry for several hours (0+ / 0-)

    at at time, but longer than that and I start to get cranky and unfocused.  

    For my sweetie, however, who is quite hypoglycemic/prediabetic, she gets foggy and distraught the MINUTE her blood sugar gets low, and it goes downhill from there.

    Not surprisingly, she has a harder time than me controlling her weight even though our meals, portions, and activity level are almost identical.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 01:59:04 PM PDT

  •  Brilliant! (0+ / 0-)

    Thank You :-)

    "If I can't dance, I don't want to be part of your revolution." - Emma Goldman

    by CamillesDad1 on Tue Apr 16, 2013 at 02:16:32 PM PDT

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