How can I lose weight when I'm hungry all the time?
Out-of-control hunger isn't a personal failing or faulty biology. It's a product of your total self-care.
The real question is, how are you caring for your hunger?
I can’t think of a single diet that doesn’t advise its adherents to suppress, disregard, or otherwise mishandle their hunger. The message is clear: your hunger is a problem. It will betray you and lead you astray. At best, it’s a petulant child in need of discipline. At worst, it’s a dark corridor leading you to binges and a complete lack of self-control.
I teach people how to use their hunger to live at a healthy weight. What I notice is how suspect we’ve become of our own bodies.
The consequence of mishandling your hunger is a lifetime of disconnection from your body. That connection is essential to achieving and keeping a healthy weight. Yes, the very thing you’ve been convinced is a problem is actually a vital self-care tool.
To boot, having a respectful, ongoing dialog with your body is an affirming and healing process. It not only has the power to produce a body you enjoy but listening to your hunger also creates psychological calm. You are telling your body in real-time that it will be listened to and cared for. It’s the very definition of knowing how to trust yourself.
There is a but. Many of the ways we’ve been taught to eat and live in a consumerist world inflame the body and activate false hunger. That’s what most people mean when they feel a compulsion to eat beyond satiation. It’s nearly impossible to be mindful if you’re consuming food that’s engineered to keep you eating.
People wrongly assume that overeating is a character deficiency (or it’s hormonal, genetic, etc…).
Your body is doing exactly what you're asking of it.
Things that hijack your natural hunger:
- Processed foods, even the health-washed kind
- A lack of movement
- Poor sleep
- Unaddressed trauma
Takeaway: think about your life comprehensively in order to have a helpful ongoing dialog with your body.
This is why people calorie-counting or put their food into an app, they’re eating things they can’t put down. The problem arrives when you’ve eaten your allotment and you’re still hungry. Then weight loss becomes an exercise in hunger denial. Something very few of us can do for any length of time.
Would you rather tune into your own body to know when and how much to eat, or hand over agency to an app? Your hunger signals are only useful when you’re implementing a baseline of wellness practices.
Practices that work in tandem to reduce inflammation and allow you to trust your natural hunger are:
- Regular sleep
- Whole, unprocessed foods
- Daily movement (preferably outside)
- Abstaining or greatly reducing alcohol
Add to the mix good mental health practices like therapy or quality social time and you make yourself nearly bullet-proof.
This is what I did twelve years ago. I lost fifty pounds by addressing all the imbalances in my life and allowing that to show up on the scale. I never regained it because those changes felt organic.
Dieting puts all the pressure on your body. That’s almost laughable when you consider how many factors need to be addressed to find lasting success.
Your daily practices are what create lasting weight loss. The way to rein in and trust your hunger is to focus on daily movement, nourishment, and stress relief. Then, your hunger can help you.
One of the clearest, most impactful ways to undo the damage of modern life is to treat your hunger as something to be taken care of. Make friends with it. Feed it with nourishing, whole foods. Sleep.
It won’t mislead you.
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