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Hunger Pangs

Have you ever felt hunger as an actual presence, something so ravenous and demanding that it almost has a life of its own, so insistent that you cannot focus on anything but the need to assuage it? How about feeling this for no good reason? Not because you’ve been fasting, or exercising a lot, or are pregnant. You’ve just gone about your normal life and suddenly it’s there, almost knocking you down because it’s pounding so hard.

I never used to feel that way. When I was heavy, hunger announced itself more as a queasy feeling, getting a little irritable and headachy. But now that I’m thin, I’ve experienced hunger as I never have before. What baffles me is why. I can’t point to any obvious difference between days when I feel like a bottomless pit and days when I eat normally. I suppose it might be hormonal, having something to do with the time of month, but it’s not consistent enough to tell.

Just recently, for instance, I woke feeling moderately hungry and ate my normal breakfast. I didn’t feel full but didn’t worry – I rarely feel really full, especially right after eating. But this time, none of my normal tricks of appetite suppression worked. Not exercise, or drinking lots of liquid (especially something hot like tea), or chewing gum.

Previously when this happened, I would eat tiny bits at a time, flicking crumbs into the maw of hunger, concerned about how much I was eating. It didn’t really work, and I found myself eating almost constantly, but still continually hungry. This time, as part of my experiment to get away from the numbers game, I tried a different approach: I gave in to it. I let myself eat until I finally felt sated and my stomach was no longer controlling me. The result was consuming essentially a “second breakfast” (very Hobbit-like) just two and half hours after the first.

Having given in, I felt very focused and alert – and I didn’t get hungry again until supper, when it was a more normal hunger.

It was almost revelatory, making me realize I really can trust my body to tell me what I need. What an amazing concept! This was reinforced by discovering that thus far, in the three weeks that I’ve stopped weighing myself every day, my weight has been perfectly consistent. It’s a little sobering that it took me 7 years to figure this out, but I’m glad to finally be in this place.

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