Hungry Like the Wolf
Listening and responding to your hunger cues may seem like a fairly simple and intuitive solution to arriving at your natural weight. Yet while eating according to your hunger is great for maintenance, losing weight is a whole other animal. Losing weight actually requires that you sometimes go against your natural hunger cues.
Your body sends out hunger signals when easily accessible energy has been depleted or it’s a time of day when you normally eat. It’s a perfect system *if* you are a healthy weight person who never overeats. You eat a meal and as soon as your body burns it off, it sends you a cue to eat again. Neat. There’s no need to dip into the stored fat—the essential fat plus a little extra—that the healthy weight person is carrying. Your body is simply maintaining homeostasis.
However, when you are overweight you have excess fat—the essential fat plus a lot extra—that you really want your body to use as fuel. Your body will not burn stored fat when it has more easily accessible fuel available. To lose excess fat, you must create a calorie deficit by taking in less calories than you expend (I know you’ve heard this before!). When you are operating on a calorie deficit, you most likely will experience hunger pangs that vary from moderate to intense.
So, what’s a person who is fully committed to losing the extra pounds to do?
Get comfortable with your hunger…does that sound scary? You’ve probably been told (I know I have) that you should never let yourself get too hungry. But how is that working for you? Perhaps you could experiment with your feelings of hunger and satiety by eating breakfast a little later or skipping a snack and see what happens.
You might notice that your hunger comes and goes and that it’s more bearable than you anticipated.
You might find that having less frequent but more substantial meals feels more natural. You might enjoy the idea of having a dinner that is more than 300 calories, a “normal” dinner that you can share with friends or a significant other.
Sometimes we are so uncomfortable with hunger that we never allow ourselves to experience it. The idea is not to go through life miserable and hungry, but to be accepting of experiencing a little hunger now and then.
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