Hungry, Craving or just Wanting?
Day 11 addresses learning the differences in why we eat.
Are we hungry?
Are we craving something?
Are we just wanting to eat?
This was a really well-written chapter and Beck does an excellent job of explaining the differences. Rather than paraphrase her, I’ll tell you how I distinguish between the three, personally.
In the book, there is a chart and exercise for the reader to spend one day learning the differences and learning how to read their body. I have to say, it took me a lot longer than one day to “get it” but one day is a good place to start.
First, let me tell you that I first did WW back in 1995 and that was when I learned the difference and it made a world of difference in my success and my outlook towards “losing weight”. I am still learning the WHY behind the craving and the wanting – but knowing the difference has stopped me dead in my tracks and saved millions of chocolate bars and litres of ice cream from premature consumption.
Hunger – My stomach feels empty, it’s growling or rumbling. I have a slight headache and if I let it go too far, I feel like I’m going to throw up (keep in mind I have Type II diabetes, so hunger often goes with low blood sugar). I want to eat a meal, not a snack, not finger food, not junk food – real, healthy, delicious food.
Craving – I want a specific food. No other food will do. I will go out and drive to get that specific food if I am craving it. Midnight? No worries, there’s a 24 hour grocery less than 10 minutes away. Pouring rain? No worries, I’ll drive. I am not happy until I have that specific food. Oh, I may try and eat my way around it. I want a chocolate bar, so I’ll try a sugar free hot chocolate, a chocolate covered pretzel, some yogurt, one (or two or three or four) cookies, a glass of chocolate milk. In the end, I still want the chocolate bar and I will probably GET the chocolate bar and I’ve eaten way more calories avoiding it, than I would have if I had just eaten the damn thing in the first place. Now, if I have a craving – I know in time it will go away. I have to distract myself from the craving – read a book, go for a drive – DO something. I do still give in, but I have what I’m craving in a controlled portion (1 regular chocolate bar and not a family pack, a single serve of ice cream rather than buy a litre etc.), enjoy it, track it and put it behind me.
Want to eat – I stand with the fridge or pantry open. Not sure what I want. Nothing looks good. Nothing looks appetizing. Yet…I want “something”. When this happens, I know I’m not hungry – I know I want something. Food isn’t it. Food is what I’m using to avoid what the real problem is. A great phrase I learned early in WW, “If hunger isn’t the problem, food isn’t the solution.” I don’t always figure out what it is I really want (like I said, I don’t have all the answers!) but I can almost always, now, stop myself from trying to find out by eating.
Of course, I still eat delicious, unhealthy food because I want to. I do my best to fit it into regular meal times so I’m not doubling up on meals. I love Italian food, ice cream, mashed potatoes and gravy, chocolate cake – but I have learned that it’s ok to want to eat food just because it tastes good. The trick is that it is not ok to overeat and it has to it fit into a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The other big thing I’ve learned – food isn’t going anywhere. I can have chocolate, cake, pizza – any time! I don’t need to eat it all today.
I’m still learning. Every day is a new adventure. I’m getting there though.