Be hungry. Yes, that is one of our main advices. You heard it many times at your Olive Retreat. The biochemistry produced when we are hungry is essential for us in many ways. It’s healthy and our best tool to heal and loose weight if that is what we need. We are supposed to feel hunger before eating. It’s key for digestion, it is essential for the uptake of nutrients and for many other processes. It even lowers stress so every day you should allow yourself to be hungry before reaching for food, and stop eating when you get the first signal of being full, even if you still have food on the plate. Put it aside and keep it for the next time you are hungry. Key is to not wait much longer than 30-60 minutes to eat when you feel the first hunger sensation. Otherwise you loose the signal and yourself.
In our society hunger and other bodily signals have gotten high jacked by convention and history. Many haven’t felt hunger for ages. They keep eating which prevents it from happening. Boredom is one of the main reasons we eat today. Some do ‘preventive eating’ in case they might get hungry when their is no food around, an irrational inherited feeling of fear to suffer hunger. Some have inherited this fear of feeling hungry, not from their own life experiences but from a parent or grand parent starving at bad times, like the war. My fathers worst nightmare was for us kids to go to bed hungry as he had done during the civil war in Spain. If you read this you are probably as lucky as I am. We don’t need to starve. It is rather the opposite. We have food everywhere, around every corner there is a coffee shop or supermarket. So today hunger has become ‘the enemy’ that we have to dominate to loose weight, like it would be some unnecessary made up feeling that our bodies wrongly give us to tempt us into eating. When we understand it is a signal for survival, a fantastic biochemistry evolved since the beginning of times, that brings us other health effects like lower stress hormones too, it becomes our best friend and we start respecting it instead of fighting it.
Many diets seem to teach us tricks and tips on how to control our appetite. This sounds like the royal road to weight loss and the perfect body. But as fate would have it, this strategy is destined to fail, and fast. I don’t believe that a single person in all of history has successfully eradicated their own hunger for their own betterment. Apart from the physiological loss, we loose our self knowledge, we start relying on the clock on the office wall to tell us when we are hungry instead of our body signals. When we loose this fundamental ‘listening’ we loose Prana, life force. Other signals also get lost in the silencing of ourselves.
More to the point, when we try to artificially control our hunger, in the long run (not so long!) we lose our creative edge in life. We become less effective, less expansive, and way less interesting. We can even enhance stress hormones. Be hungry this year. Feel your hunger for good, real food and I bet you will prefer healthy food. Feel your hunger for a life well lived, and for a better world. Hunger is good and fundamental. It directs us to the things that can best nourish us. Make it a fun exercise of a self study on how to get to know yourself again, as you did as a kid.
Get to know your hunger:
– Eat only when you are hungry. Stop and feel if you are before eating. If you aren’t, bring something for when you are hungry, on the bus, at the office, in school; nuts, fruit, a healthy piece of bread, the left overs from when you stopped eating when you felt you were full.
– Stop eating when you get the FIRST signal of being full. Yes, the first full signal, even if you just had half of the plate. Even if there is just one little bite left. Stop! Don’t compare with what you ‘usually eat’. Some days we need a little some days we need two full portions. Forget all good intentions from your parents as a child; You don’t need to finish the plate! Keep the left overs for a snack when you get hungry again. So don’t waste any food, if you do you waste Prana, vitality. If you over eat, like with anything you do too much of, you loose Prana too.
– Feel your hunger by being mindful and calm for a moment. Put your attention on yourself and ask if you are hungry and after eating if you are full. It’s the only way, otherwise you will not ‘hear’ anything. And don’t ask anyone else, no expert, no fashion ad, no diet, no friend that just read an article. Only ask your body what you want. And the appetite for life comes too.
Remember that we are here for any questions you might have, we are here to support you.
Good luck with getting to know your self through your hunger. If you want to read more about the hunger hormone ghrelin: