Hunger Paradox & Weight Loss
So what is hunger paradox, why it is important for you to understand it, if you want to end the weight struggle & how not knowing about it keeps is in body jail & never ending diet drama. That is what I’m teaching you in today’s episode. Stay tuned.
Hi there. Welcome to Weight Wise Revolution Podcast, Episode 3. So today, we are talking about what seems like a dry, unsexy, unglamorous topic called Hunger. But lemme tell you, the reason its the 3rd episode, amongst the beginning few episodes is because it is very important for you to know what is hunger paradox in order to experience weight freedom. And the second reason is just because it is something you feel skipping & really talk about it, should be the exact reason for you to unpack this.
So whats coming in my mind is this one time few years back, when I had a client, a brilliant woman, extremely successful & good at what she was doing in the corporate world…in one of our beginning few sessions, I asked her, how did hunger feel in her body? She kept thinking about this question for a long time…and she even tried to dodge this question in several different ways…but ultimately came to the realisation that she hardly ever felt…like felt hunger in her body…and so was not able to describe it to me.
And, and lemme tell you that this is not uncommon. In fact, most of the women…and in fact most humans in today’s day & age hardly ever feel the sensation of hunger in their body.
So I want to begin by asking you, do you know how hunger “feel” in your body? Like I know many of you might be thinking…hmmm hello Anu, I know how hunger feels in my body. I do know that…but we are going to go beyond just “feeling” hunger in our bodies…so stay with this question because I’ll come back to this once Ill explain you what is hunger paradox.
Now, here’s the thing - our brains, the primitive brain which is programmed for your survival is wired with an innate fear, which is the fear of going without food aka fear of hunger. If you haven’t listened to the 2nd episode where I go in detail as to what exactly is primitive & pre frontal brain, this will make more sense to you.
And this primal fear of hunger served a purpose…a very important purpose. It ensured that we won’t just keep sitting around inside the cave & die off due to starvation. This primal fear “motivated” humans to get up & go out & get food, so that we stay alive. Right!
But today, this primal fear of hunger is misguiding us…
In today’s time, when we still have the stone-age brain installed and at the same time, we don’t have any scarcity of food or resources to survive…
In fact we are over bombarded with food all around us…
We can feel a twinge of this primal fear which is wired inside each one of us, get up & within 30 seconds, viola, we can grab something from the refrigerator or the cafeteria or the nearby convenience store…right.
If we do not understand how this primitive wiring is causing us to react in a way to hunger, that is keeping us miserable, we are bound to keep struggling !
Now I’m sure you have seen those ads or articles where they say, weight loss is not about staying hungry, its about eating smart.
Or the diets that promise weight loss without hunger.
And you see, google & you tube are full of articles & videos such as 7 tips to beat hunger or 5 hacks to manage hunger.
And then there are books like eat more, weigh less…
Or don’t eat less, eat right…
And the eternal question of every chronic weight struggle…
What are the foods that I eat in unlimited quantities…
Oh ya, do you remember the “negative calorie foods” & “drinks” that were so popular in the 90’s and beyond.
And I get asked by women almost daily, give me diet that does not involve hunger…
And Oh yes, I have met so many women who have told me that they can’t diet or hate dieting because they cannot stay hungry.
Sounds familiar? Ya…
And there are also “appetite suppressants” in the market…rights
And I remember, I have been through all this myself. I would consider vegetables & fruits to be “free foods” & fill my belly so much such that I don’t feel the “HUNGER”
Now all these are flawed ways we relate to hunger…
We have never questioned actually as to Why hunger is a problem?
Why are we running away at a jet high speed from hunger?
What is this fear & anxiety around feeling the hunger in our bodies all about?
Why would we choose to stay with the discomfort of being overweight instead of feeling the hunger? &
Now if you are thinking, Anu seriously, now you want me to stay hungry & feel the hunger…ahhh…I don’t like it…
Hear me out. I get you. And I’m not telling you to stay hungry although I would invite you to be willing to stay curious as to why not, in case your your answer is no.
So all these examples of our behaviour around hunger and us relating to hunger as a problem is because of this primal fear that stems from our primitive, lower brains that have literally carries the belief that hunger = death.
And then as I always say, you have this higher brain which must dismantle this innate belief in order for you to thrive in life that hunger is not equal to death. Hunger doesn’t mean anything has gone wrong. Hunger also doesn’t mean that we are suppose to shovel down food at the first sign of hunger. Our bodies are well equipped to stay hungry and actually our bodies function well when they are not in the fed state.
Until you start practicing relating to hunger from your higher, pre-frontal brain, you would continue to sabotage your weight loss progress sooner or later. And by the way healing your relationship with hunger is much more than just managing your weight. Its actually quite freeing & a powerful way to create your life.
I also want o mention here that there is a large chunk of women who do stay hungry and eat very little…like I remember me in my final MBBS year, I almost started beating hunger & staying may on an apple for a day, seriously not kidding…lost a lot of weight…but all that came from a place of again, one huge primal fear of getting rejected by my tribe because of my weight…which is crazy I know * s I was obsessed with losing more & more & more weight.
I am not talking that kind of hunger. That again is a completely dysfunctional way of using hunger actually to feed self hatred…nop.
What I’m talking about is a peaceful, loving relationship with hunger.
Yes, you can actually love your hunger.
That doesn’t mean you won’t be eating..ha ha…
That simply means you are not anxious & panicking when you feel hungry.
You have that sneakers ad right…hunger makes me hangry.
Ya, that won’t happen if you understand that hunger is not a problem. Its actually a good thing.
And the other day, we were on a road trip & my 6 yr old said, mumma, Im starving. And she made this face. And I explained her about hunger & the power of our words and how what we are talking is actually the best way to look inside our primal brain’s beliefs. Like seriously, you cannot starve even if you didn’t eat the whole day…and even more.
Yet, we use this work so innocently…anyways, so I told her, to repeat saying, mumma, I’m very hungry. And the moment she said that, her entire body language shifted.
So now comes the time when I ask you the question with which I started this episode.
Do you know how hunger feels in your body?
Notice when I ask you this question, where does your mind go…does it go in your head or does it go in your body?
Now, I want you to remember that it is so so important to feel the sensation of physical hunger in your body because it is often confused with false hunger.
And what is the false hunger?
False hunger is due to an emotion.
Like physical hunger is due to your body wanting food…right
False hunger or emotional hunger is because of…as I just said, an emotion.
And both of these feel similar because they are felt in the body but they are completely different.
And of the skills…the most important skill that is required…that is mandatory for you to lose weight & stay at your ideal weight for good is getting good at feeling an emotion instead of reacting to an emotion. And now I’ll cover the topic of emotions in my upcoming episodes but as of right now, know in order to get good at feeling an emotion, you have to get good at feeling physical hunger in your body.
Now physical hunger is a biological sensation that starts from your body & goes to the brain. So do you actually feel it…Its just like other biological sensations like say you have to use the restroom, you does that sensation feel…how does the sensation of cold feel in your body…similarly how does hunger feel like…so its different for different people.
The other is physical hunger in contrast to emotional hunger comes gradually…right. It’s never urgent. And most often it’s never for a specific food item vs emotional hunger or a craving which is where our brains get fixated on wanting sugary, carby or our favourite hyper palatable food.
And the other reason for leaning forwards & making friends with hunger is that until you get in the habit of eating when truly, genuinely physically hungry most of the times in life, you would miss out on the amazing gift of fullness. And by fullness here, I mean the pleasant satisfaction which is a sensory experience that only & only follows if you begin to eat when hungry.
If you are hungry to begin with, you are constantly chasing pleasant satisfaction that comes after meeting the nourishment need of the body, with more & more food.
I want you to start becoming aware of how does hunger feel in your body. How does just a little hunger feel like & how does a lot of hunger feel like. Like notice the sensations of hunger. I’m pretty sure that you do know what extreme hunger feels like…hello crash diets & I’m also sure you do know what extreme stuffing feels like, in the body…hello vacation buffets…ya
But what about in between. There is a whole range of hunger in between that we often refuse to feel & operate from “shoulds” & “clock” & “moods”& “beliefs” around eating rather than hunger.
The other thing is I’m not saying, stay hungry & don’t eat for a long long time. But here’s the thing, in order to start & get good at feeling the sensation of hunger, you have to get hungry…obviously….Right!
The other thing I want you to notice this week is how much of your eating is because of true, physical hunger & how much is because of a reaction to an emotion! Just notice without judging…
How much of your eating is just because its “time” to eat…like the lunch time or the dinner time?
How much of your eating is because of every body else is eating without you actually feeling hungry?
How much of your eating is preventive hunger?
I used to do this a lot. My clients whom I work with say to me so many times that they ate ahead of time such that they don’t get hungry because they were anticipating a long work commitment or something. So how much of preventive eating you are doing?
How much of your eating is because of needing a buzz…what I call “pick me up” eating? Oh, I just needed a little pick me up. Usually, we do this tea or coffee…
And another great question to think about is how do you feel when you think about hunger?
Not when you are hungry…but when you think about hunger! Ya…
Now lemme tell you one hard cold unglamorous secret which by the way I don’t see experts who sell weight loss programs or dieticians say a lot….usually as I mentioned before, its all eat right & eat smart…all that bs lies…
And I believe you are a grown creating epic results for yourself, showing up in the best way possible in life & so you must must know the truth..
And the truth is in order to lose weight, you have to stay hungry. And I want to offer you is that instead of running away from hunger, you embrace it with wisdom & love. Instead of resisting it, avoiding it, distracting yourself from it, you allow it to flow through your body.
And Im talking about extremes here. Like I shared what I used to do in college & all the dysfunctional reasons for doing it. I’m talking about reasonable hunger. A sweet middle path. You experience hunger without panicking and allow it to be a part of your life.
And the way you would be able to allow it with peace is when you question all the flawed primal beliefs behind it like we talked it…its yuck. It means something wrong. Why would you do that. I can’t do that…
All these beliefs…and when you begin to notice all these beliefs, that is when you begin to relate to hunger in a whole together different way…a whole together powerful way…ya.
So the hunger paradox is that we as humans will always have this primal fear of hunger wired in our DNA. We don’t have to fight with it. Resist it or avoid it or beat it. We simply need to become aware of it and at the same time, understand that our bodies can co-exist with hunger. Our bodies are perfectly designed to embrace hunger & function optimally in an unfed state.
So the primal fear of hunger & physical hunger can dance with each other at the same time.
So now a practical step that you can start with. Firstly, all the questions that I asked in this episode about hunger. Go through them once more. Like listen to this episode once more & stay curious about your answers. Im 100% sure, that your answers will open up your awareness to greater insights. And then I also want you to start practicing eating only 3 meals a day…like gradually come to this place. Don’t do this overnight. Eating 3 meals without any snacks or drinks other than water would entail that you get a chance to experience true physical hunger in between. And that is going to help you become friends with hunger…Right.
And hey I would love to know about insights and your experiences or any challenges if you face. The place to discuss this is my VIP facebook group. I invite you join that & continue this conversation there. I’ll leave the link to join it in the show notes.
Now to conclude all this, I would leave you by telling you that there is this primal fear of hunger & then there is this primal emptiness that each human being is born with. If you are continuously filling up that primal hunger, with food or drinks, you are not letting yourself feel the primal emptiness which accompanies all of us in all moments of our lives…that restless emptiness, which feels like hunger but is there in all us in order to serve a grand purpose…and that purpose is to evolve…to keep learning & to keep creating. If you keep filling that emptiness with food, you would have no desire or muted desire to show up as your best, to keep evolving to the next highest level & that my girl is leaving this planet with the music still within. Hmmmm lets say not the best use of your life force. Your life is knocking your door & is demanding that you do not settle for anything less than your epic creative life.
That is it. Hey it would be great if you could leave me a review on iTunes. That would help in my mission & spread this message to more amazing women like you. Thank you so much. I will talk to you soon.