Most of us have been there. They’ve even coined a new term for the experience: hangry. I’m on a mission to never feel that again. I truly believe it’s possible and I’m enjoying glimpses of success. Long stretches in fact. Come to think of it, I’m rarely that kind of hungry anymore. And I’m damn proud of it. It means I’ve defeated a very large monster. ...because angry-hunger used to consume my life! It made me anxious about food; food always had to be on my mind so I could avoid those ‘crashes.’ I suppose I could have marched on in to a doctor’s office and been diagnosed with hypoglycemia - I experienced similar symptoms - but I don’t do that. I don’t seek diagnoses for my ailments - to me, and my body, a diagnosis feels like an excuse for not addressing an issue I’m aware I need to address and believe I can correct/heal on my own. I’ve accumulated several experiences like that in my life already and let me tell you - it’s so fun to trust your body’s ability to heal, take discernible and appropriate action, then watch the turn-around and healing unfold miraculously. Reminds me of my dear 97 year old friend’s refrigerator magnet: “There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle (~Albert Einstein).” Our bodies are miraculous units. Treat them as such.
Instead of ‘settling’ on being a person who gets angry-hungry often, I sought solutions. Implementing/incorporating one small solution after another added up to a total lifestyle change. That, in turn, eradicated my angry-hunger for good.
I am writing this post so that I have a place to refer back to later when I’m outlining the positive effects of our eating changes. I also picture myself referring others to this when I am helping them make their own big changes. There is a stark difference between the kind of hungry I’m referring to as I move forward/what I NOW feel… and what that word used to mean to me. This post describes that difference. As I spent time thinking about and identifying this difference, I realized that there are actually many kinds of hunger a person can feel. However, they fall into only one of two categories.
There’s the angry-hungry I already discussed. This is the umbrella term over which all of the negative types of hunger fall. The bored-hunger, the panic-hunger, the unsatisfied-yet-full-hunger, and the dreaded breastfeeding-hunger! Let me briefly explain these.
*Bored-Hunger - The kind of hunger that makes you wander around the kitchen, opening cupboard doors, aimlessly looking for something to eat. Do you really need fuel? Or are you just bored? If you went and did something entirely different for ten minutes would you still feel that way? Would your mind even go back to wishing for food? Or will you have gotten involved in something that takes your mind off of your supposed hunger?
*Panic-hunger - The ‘if I don’t eat within 15 minutes, I feel like I’m going to pass out and begin shaking’ kind of hunger. This is the ‘all I can think about is food kind of hunger;’ the kind that seems like stuffing a large meal into your face is the only way to stop your insides from trembling. A simple snack such as an apple would be laughable, not enough.
*Unsatisfied-yet-full-hungry - The kind of hunger where you’ve just stuffed yourself with junk food so your stomach feels full, yet your body still doesn’t feel satisfied. So you’re still hungry. You’re fooled into thinking you want more of that junk. When really it’s telling you it that it’s needing nutrients. It’s demanding that you eat something healthier; it’s wanting more. ...more yet different... nutritious.
*Breastfeeding-hunger - Holy Buckets is all I’ve got to say about that one. I imagine that my having experienced this kind of hunger for as many years as I did was what triggered me to learn how to eradicate the panic-type-hungers altogether because they’re as downright icky, terrifying, atrocious and debilitating as hungers come! Breastfeeding our little man was far more demanding and strenuous than our daughter. I tell you what… a mere 120-125 pound lady (at that time) trying to eat enough of the right things at the right time to sustain and nourish the life of a I’m-only-drinking-Mama’s-milk sturdy 24 pound thirteen-month-old little man felt like and should have been my only full-time job at that time! Not to mention trying to keep some nutrients for myself! Holy buckets. Glad I did it. Wouldn’t change a thing. Kudos to me at the time. Not sure how I stuck with it. No wonder why my acupuncturist kept telling me ‘my reserves were low.’ He better thank me for it when he’s older. Grateful Mama’s milk is miraculous. Glad that phase is over. Whew! I’ll leave it at that. hahaha
Apart from the breastfeeding-hunger, I can say that the negative angry-hungers were all caused by poor food choices on my part. ‘Foods’ that are full of fake ingredients were the biggest culprits. So were foods full of pointless and nutritionally-void carbs. Obvious offenders included: cereal, crackers, bagels, pasta, muffins, pizza, granola bars, pancakes, and sugary desserts. Even foods that others think are ‘healthy’ made my body upset and angry-hungry hours later. Here are some of the foods, off the top of my head, that some people label as ‘healthy’ but made me not feel well a few hours later (which tells me it wasn’t a food that my body needed or appreciated nutritionally speaking): sub sandwiches from that supposedly ‘healthy’ restaurant chain, cold meat (those nitrates! that soy filler!), oatmeal, orange juice, casseroles (I’m better off without cans of ‘cream of crap,’ as I call them), some crock-pot hodge podges, breaded frozen chicken items (even the ‘best’ and ‘healthiest’ options), and freezer ‘meals.’ I even have to be wary of bananas. Rarely is there a time in my day where I can ‘get away with’ eating a banana. They’re so sugary… they lead me to ‘crash’ if I don’t time them appropriately. To summarize this section:
**Any high-glycemic, processed, artificially-colored, artificially-flavored food will NOT be what your body is ‘hungry’ for.**
Then there’s the second type of hunger: relaxed-hunger. This is the kind of hunger I NOW experience and appreciate and always strive for. No jittery feelings. No anxiousness about where my next bite of food’s coming from. I would describe this as a “my tanks down below a quarter, I should probably be thinking about filling up in the next 100 miles” type of thing. NOT an all-out “MY TANK IS ON ‘E’!!!” type of emergency! When I now start to feel an emptiness in my stomach, I know I could go another hour or two easily without eating. And if I simply ate an apple or drank one of our awesome greens drinks, I’d be able to easily last more hours than that. Sustained. Satisfied. Stable. Just more empty than, say, after I’ve eaten a meal. It has been fun figuring out how to live within that stability => lean and clean, ‘flat line’ as I’ll describe it. Note: I do not make, sell or profit from telling you about the greens we enjoy; but I will recommend them, tell you about them and point you in their direction in the future! Another note: lifting heavy weights causes an entirely unique kind of hunger as well… it’s what I call being “Muscle-Hungry.” Whoa buddy! I’ll let ya know what I figure out about this one… I still haven’t quite mastered it. It’s definitely not a negative hunger, but it’s awfully panicky! ...and absolutely needs to be fueled correctly!
Back to ‘flat-line’ hunger - Mid-morning especially, my energy level never declines in the hours before I sit down to eat lunch. So even though my stomach’s telling me it is nearing empty, I’ve still got a ton of energy. I no longer crash. Ever. And I know to be smart during this time because it’s usually eating something that will make me sluggish. People typically turn to food for energy, and yes, there are times I do too, but it’s all about figuring out what your body needs and finding that balance. Sometimes meals, if they’re too big or not the right thing, will actually slow a person down. Be strategic and choosy about what and when you eat. And sometimes not eating is an equally brilliant solution. Listen to your body!!
To really drive my point home, I will visually show the difference between my ‘angry-hunger’ of the past and how the ‘flat-line hunger’ I now experience feels to me.
Angry-hunger of the past. The angst and my body’s frustration with me! The shaky-insides!
Feeling like I was about to pass-out crashes! Not to mention the racing-heart highs!
My new peaceful hours-long casual slide into ‘hunger.’ My flat-line.
All is well with my body… when my belly is full of food AND when my belly is low on food.
A couple more thoughts before I close…
I realize that making a lifestyle change isn’t a perfectly linear process; that it’s a two steps forward, one step back kind of thing. But after years of making a lot of small changes, the transformation is so incredible that I’m motivated to never go back to old ways. I will never fall off track as much as I was back then. Time is precious, my health is precious and I’m on a beautiful roll of feeling my best. Join me! ...if you haven’t already.
Also… listen to your body. We’ve all had those gigantic meals at night where we don’t really feel like eating much the next morning... or even into that next day’s lunch. Maybe take a cue from your body and don’t. I took a cue from my body the other night and slid right into bedtime and then breakfast the next day not having eaten any supper. Now… don’t freak out on me and give me a lecture of how tiny-little-Kelly can’t stand to ‘starve’ herself like that. First off, it isn’t ‘starving’ or ‘depriving’ myself in any way, shape, or form. Trust me… that I’m trusting my body. I had every intention of eating a yummy supper that night, but once I took note of what my body was telling me, I realized it was telling me I’d be better off not putting a ‘rock’ of a supper into my stomach that evening. It wanted time to digest everything it had already consumed in the days prior and then additional time to focus on detoxing and ‘cleaning house’ instead of being forced to process and deal with the next meal I’d stuff into it. I plan to write an entire post about this concept in the future. For now, though, I will leave it at the fact that my body told me it just wanted additional time to process and digest existing food and extra time to clean house. It felt wonderful by the way. It wasn’t drudgery. It felt right. And the only reason this was true was because of the super smart choices of food I gave it in the 12 hours prior to this decision. This only works (so my body says) when you’ve fueled it properly beforehand. If I had made one slip-up and ate some sugary crappy dessert that afternoon, I would have plummeted into a carb-crash shaky-insides type hunger instead of being able to breeze on through the subsequent 18 hours meal-free. It’s strategic and choosy and planned. It works and it feels flipping amazing (if done properly). I had so much energy and alertness during that ‘fasting’ morning - it was insane! In fact, creative inspiration came to me that same morning. I was ‘clear’ enough for this to occur!
What I’ve rambled about in today’s post isn’t anywhere near a proper scientific explanation. I know ones exist. I know that there are long, technical, hard-to-pronounce labels to identify and describe the body’s intricate processes. It’s a miraculous unit, remember? I took a semester-long course at Iowa State during my undergrad to learn about them; I aced that class. But I’ll admit... I’m not into the science of things so much as I am the ‘what is your body telling you?’ types of things. I know you’ve felt the differences in the hungers you experience. You know there are the hungers you can easily power through and also the ones where your body’s crying out for something specific because you’ve given it a series of ‘wrong things’ prior. Listen to it. And seriously strive to get rid of the kind of hunger that makes you ‘hangry’, that makes you anxious about food, that simply disrupts your life. Be nice to your body. It’s time.
I am a wife, mom to two and teacher. I have a lot of things I'd like to go after in this lifetime!