Yesterday I seemed to be hungry all day. It lasted from breakfast until my head hit the pillow at night. It was like I could not get enough food in me to soothe my hunger pangs. I certainly acknowledged that I was hungrier than most days, but I accepted it and ate accordingly. In the past, this would have made me feel very uncomfortable because my M.O. was to eat as little as possible and raging hunger would have seriously derailed that. Now that I have been an intuitive eater for a while, it didn’t faze me.
When I first started IE, I analyzed my hunger cues to death. I would often get down on myself when I would have a super hungry day rather than a “normal” hungry day. On the flip side, if I had a less hungry day, I’d do a happy dance. All of this was a lack of trust in my body and leftover diet mentality telling me I “should” eat a certain way. I am super structured person and like consistency in my life.1 Wrapping my head around the fact that every day is different in terms of my food intake took some time.
The first thing I did was educate myself on why I may be more or less biologically hungry on certain days. Honestly, I intellectually knew some of these reasons already, but I was so entrenched in the diet culture of you-must-eat-X-number-of-calories-per-day-no-matter-what that reviewing these concepts was like seeing them for the first time. I reminded myself that:
- I will likely need more fuel on more active days and less fuel on less active days. If I am unable to make it to the gym and am more sedentary because I am bogged down at work, then I likely won’t be as hungry.
- My body may tell me to eat more because I accidentally didn’t get enough fuel the day before. Likewise, if I overate the day before, I may be less hungry. It’s all about balance.
- When I am tired, my body will search for sources of energy to perk me up and food is an easy energy source, especially carbs. Although addressing my need for sleep would be the best route, sometimes that is not practical for various reasons.
- PMS hormones are real. The increase in progesterone production increases appetite. My research revealed that non-human animals experience this increase in appetite too, so females across different species suffer!
- Medication can affect appetite. Although I wasn’t on any medication at the time of my research, it’s likely I’ll be on some type of medication as I get older, so this is good for me to keep in mind.
- Stress can lead to an increase in hunger. When you have stress, you activate your fight-or-flight response which uses up energy. When your stress levels come down a bit, you need to replenish that energy. I’m in education and get a summer break. I am so much less stressed in summer and am less hungry for that reason.
When you think about it, the human body is pretty amazing. Your cells combine to form tissues which combine to form organs which combine to form systems which work together to create a person. All of these body parts work in conjunction to carry out processes like movement, digestion, and breathing.2 I figure that if all of that can happen in my body without conscious thought, then my body must be fairly smart. When it speaks to me and tells me to eat more or less one day, I listen. I just figure that my body is smarter than me and will tell me what it needs to keep in working order.
I now tell myself that if I am a little more hungry or less hungry one day, that’s okay. There are times when I wonder why, but sometimes I cannot come up with a reason for it. I know that I tend to be more hungry in the winter months than the summer months. Maybe I get hungrier in winter because I expend more energy from shivering more or I am less hungry in the summer because the idea of any movement in the sweltering heat sounds utterly exhausting. This is just the way my body works. I just shrug it off and try to dwell on the “why” anymore. Instead, I just trust my body.
Do you have hungry days and less hungry days? How do you approach those days? Please share in the comment section below.
1Sometimes the one thing that is consistent is inconsistency!
2I was tempted to nerd-out and write more about the human body, but I refrained.
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