Do you know how to be hungry? For many people, this might seem like a no-brainer at first. After all, hunger is simply a physiological response to a lack of food in the digestive system, right? But in today’s world, so many of us devote so much energy to avoiding the feeling of hunger at all costs, that it’s become hard for us to actually receive the benefits that hunger has for us. In this heart-felt video from #IPEtv, Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating, offers some great wisdom that can help all of us reconnect with the gifts of our hunger!
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Here is a transcript of this week’s video:
Greetings friends, this is Marc David, founder of the Institute for the Psychology of Eating.
Today’s Topic: How to Be Hungry – 7 Easy Steps
It seems like hunger ought to be a pretty straightforward topic. You’re hungry, you eat. And once you eat, you feel fulfilled at some point, and you stop eating. But for many of us, hunger isn’t always quite so simple. That’s because the way humans are designed, we need to learn how to eat, to grow food, to harvest it, to prepare it, and then to eat it in a good way. On top of that, we humans indeed bring our humanity to the table. We bring our struggles to food, our hopes, our longings, our fears, our desires, and it all gets mixed in into this fascinating concoction that either leaves us feeling good, or leaves us with a problematic experience of eating.
If you’ve ever felt the challenge of over eating, binge eating, emotional eating, and dieting for weight loss – then you know that being hungry can be quite an interesting experience.
For many people, hunger automatically puts us into fear. If you’re trying to lose weight or doing battle with food, then in an odd way, hunger becomes the enemy.
So for those of you who go into any kind of discomfort around your hunger and your appetite, or if you’re the kind of professional who works with clients in this realm, I’d like to share with you my 7 easy steps on how to be hungry.
These seven steps are about how to be hungry in a good way – how to regulate hunger so it works for you and not against you. I’m going to read through the list of the seven steps just so you can hear them, and then I’ll break them down one by one so you can have a sense of how it all comes together:
- Feel your hunger fully
- Breathe into your hunger
- Be thankful for your hunger
- Be curious about your hunger
- Make good hunger decisions
- Monitor your hunger
- Observe the results of your decisions
1 – Feel your hunger fully
This is the foundational step when it comes to a healthy relationship with hunger. Simply feel it fully. Experience the sensation of hunger. Where do you feel it in your body? Do you feel it in your mouth? In your gut? In your mind? All over? Allow yourself to experience the sensations of hunger without going into your head, without worrying about it, or judging it. When we sink into the sensation of the body, we bypass some of the insanity of the mind and we begin to allow our hunger to simply be what it is – a natural sensation in the body.
2 – Breathe into your hunger
As you allow yourself to feel your hunger, take some deep breaths. Indeed, if you find yourself stepping into any kind of judgment or fear, some simple long slow deep breathing is a great way to help begin to harness the mind while putting your body into the physiologic relaxation response. The idea here is to welcome and relax into your hunger. Breathing is a powerful tool to help us do this.
3 – Be thankful for your hunger
Take one simple moment, and silently give thanks for your hunger. This is a great antidote for those people who have been conditioned to fight their hunger, fight their appetite, and see food as the enemy. Fighting the body’s natural inborn need to eat puts us in stress chemistry and de-regulates appetite. Stress chemistry also puts us in the higher part of the probability curve for digestive upset, nutrient excretion, and weight gain. Give thanks for your hunger. It keeps you alive. It means you ARE alive.
4 – Be curious about your hunger
This means be a detective, ask questions, and inquire of your body what you are indeed hungry for. Notice what you come up with. Are you really hungry for food? If so, what kind? Are you hungry for something else – connection, conversation, relaxation, movement, anything? This is your opportunity to see how you’re going to choose to nourish yourself in this moment.
5 – Make good hunger decisions
Here’s a place where it’s easy to get all tangled up. Choose and intend to make good decisions relative to your hunger. Sometimes you’ll surely make a good choice in terms of what you eat, and other times you won’t. This is all part of the journey of life. This is a learning experience. Setting the intention to make good decisions means we’re putting the best part of us on alert and asking our conscious and aware self to make good choices. In hunger as in life, have the inner fortitude to intend good decisions.
6 – Monitor your hunger
As you’re eating, take notice of your hunger. Has it abated any? Is it getting stronger? Are you starting to feel satisfied? How your body feeling? Are you paying attention? Do you feel nourished? Do you have a sense of how much more you’ll need to eat until you feel fulfilled? This is simply a process of noticing and responding. And as always, it’s simply about staying awake and curious during the eating process.
7 – Observe the results of your decisions
At some point after you finish eating, notice how you feel. In fact, it’s a great idea to notice how you feel even an hour later or several hours later. How’s your energy? What’s your level of alertness and brainpower? How’s your digestion? This is a time for you to simply listen to feedback from your body to see if your decisions were indeed good ones. It’s a time of simple reflection by checking in with the body. Lots of good information is always forthcoming. All we need do is listen. If a food choice didn’t quite work for you, then take note, as this is good information to remember the next time you notice yourself making choices around what to eat, or what not to eat.
Allow me to summarize by saying that hunger is a beautiful sensation that we can learn to love. If you’re the kind of person who is indeed blessed with having enough food on the table at each meal, then hunger deserves to be celebrated. This is a practice. It’s a practice in gratitude. It’s a practice in growing up, taking responsibility, and embracing life and the nourishment process for what it truly is.
Love your hunger and it will be happy to love you right back and guide you in a good way. I hope this was helpful my friends. Please email us at email@example.com if you have specific questions and we will be sure to get back to you. Thanks so much for your time and interest.
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