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learning to trust your gut instinct when it comes to hunger


As a counsellor working in this field I do understand that eating is not always physically driven and their are many emotional reasons one might overeat. Comfort, loneliness, boredom, fatigue and habit, are among many of the reasons one may overeat. I am in no way meaning to be dismissive of these very profound and complicated drivers of non hungry eating. They are indeed real and powerful and can add a difficult dimension to trying to manage ones weight. Having an opportunity to explore physical hunger and disentangling it from emotional hunger and learning to trust it can bring many unexpected benefits to assisting with weight loss. Often when one makes a decision to lose weight, we look to a diet plan, an eating guide, supplements, shakes, pills, potions, lifestyle overhauls. These can all have a place in the grand scheme of weight loss in one-way or another. However these are all external aids. What is often neglected in this process is our inner voice, our inner cues as to what we are needing or not needing. 

There is a tendency to switch off from engaging with our bodies signals as we attempt to rationalize and intellectualize what and when we should or should not to be eating. This is particularly evident in terms of listening to our hunger. We lose trust in our ability to know what and when it is ok to eat. Hunger is telling you something worth listening to. It is a message saying you need fuel, it is time to eat. When in "dieting" mode, hunger can be demonized and thought of as an unacceptable feeling. We might dismiss it and say "Oh how could I possibly be hungry? I ate two hours ago", or I'm really hungry now but because I am on this diet I must wait for three hours and then have this prearranged portion of something on my diet plan. The holding out until you think its acceptable to eat can make you anxious, miserable, resentful and worse, just super hungry. And the consequences can range from blood sugars dropping, concentration slipping, and binging and over eating. 

Once we overeat because we were so hungry we have another sensation that may emerge. That is one of feeling way too full and uncomfortable. The feeling we may have lost touch with in this process is called satiety. Satiety is another important inner message to listen to. It helps let us know when we have had enough. Some diets will encourage you to eat more when in fact at that time you may not have been hungry. Subsequently all eating is being done to the tune of an external voice rather than your internal voice which is really very knowledgeable about when you do need to eat and when you need to stop. Honoring your hunger rather than denying it has an added wonderful bonus, and that is one of enjoyment as it gives you permission to eat when you are hungry and ironically is what can facilitate weight loss. My colleague Dr Amanda Sainsbury Salis and I will be running weight loss courses called: "THE SCIENCE, STRATEGIES AND SUSTAINABILITY OF WEIGHT LOSS" at the Sydney University Continuing Education Centre. Our next course commences on October 29th 2014. Please see this link for details. http://cce.sydney.edu.au/course/WLSS This course provides a special opportunity to listen to Dr Amanda present her research into weight loss and provides extraordinary insights into the science of weight loss, providing tips, ideas and the "how to" for managing weight loss for life. Dr Amanda Sainsbury Salis: www.dramandaonline.com is Australia's leading weight loss scientist who leads a research team at the University of Sydney's Boden Institute of Obesity, Nutrition and Eating Disorders.

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