Nourish and Nurture

Hunger Games

October 05, 2023 Miriam Hatoum Season 3 Episode 70
Nourish and Nurture
Hunger Games
Show Notes Transcript

Episode #: 70.    Hunger Games – A Dive Into Awareness and Self-Care

A very interesting case is made for the fact that when the rules in your head conflict with the direct experience of your body, trust in your body is eroded, and confusion about whether or not you are hungry arises.  When you ignore hunger signals or try to trick them by eating air foods such as rice cakes or drinking water, you numb yourself to them and often eat for reasons other than true biological hunger. This is a lot of where binges come from. The way Tribole and Resch put it is that when you don’t eat and ignore hunger signals, or don’t eat enough by dieting or fasting, the result is akin to holding your breath under water until you are desperate for air. Instead of just breathing normally and quietly, you are gasping loudly for air, and you can’t seem to get enough for your body to quiet down.

In my course and book, and many of my blogs and podcast episodes, I teach about learning your biological hunger cues and also how head hunger and heart hunger can fool you into thinking you are biologically hungry. 

Get all my free guides
Take a look at three great new courses
Join me on Facebook
Follow me on Instagram
Check out Pinterest
And don't forget my book!


Episode #: 70.    Hunger Games – A Dive Into Awareness and Self-Care

 You’re Listening to the Keto and Low Carb Success podcast, Episode #70,     Hunger Games – A Dive into Awareness and Self-Care.

 Introduction

 Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Conquer Cravings with Keto, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl! 

 Be sure to go to miriamhatoum.com/resources to get all the free guides to help you along the way. I am in your shoes, my friends, and I wrote these guides for both of us. The link is in the show notes and transcripts.

 Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast and the course is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or service, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!

Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger

Okay – I know I have talked to you about monkeys playing dodgeball in my head. This morning was no exception. I was up at 7AM and spend 3 hours writing this episode and then decided to ditch it.

Let me tell you what I was wrestling with and why. I didn’t see how I could meaningfully address the topic of honoring our hunger if I didn’t also address the fact that I found out for myself (and millions of others) that hunger can be caused by the food itself. What this means is that you cannot straighten out what is going on with your ability to honor your hunger – which has to do with mind, heart and perception - until you address what is physically going on with your body. I wrote an entire podcast on carbohydrates, hunger and jumped to the tenth principle of Gentle Nutrition. I decided to put it away until later in my podcast travels, but I will get to it.

Suffice it to say, that as I proceed with exploring this second principle, I acknowledge that we can be hungry because of hormone dysregulation caused by excessive carb consumption, or, if we are insulin resistant, by any carb consumption. So just understand that I will be getting to that, as it certainly can play havoc with our hunger signals will shape all our decisions about Gentle Nutrition.

Instead of doing that insulin-hormone-hunger connection podcast right now, you will hear it further down the line. For now, I am going to take food and hormones out of the equation and just continue with the concepts and exercises given in the workbook for this principle. But just know that I do acknowledge that certain foods themselves can cause hunger and confound hunger signals.

The Rules in Your Mind

A very interesting case is made for the fact that when the rules in your head conflict with the direct experience of your body, trust in your body is eroded, and confusion about whether or not you are hungry arises.  When you ignore hunger signals or try to trick them by eating air foods such as rice cakes or drinking water, you numb yourself to them and often eat for reasons other than true biological hunger. This is a lot of where binges come from. The way Tribole and Resch put it is that when you don’t eat and ignore hunger signals, or don’t eat enough by dieting or fasting, the result is akin to holding your breath under water until you are desperate for air. Instead of just breathing normally and quietly, you are gasping loudly for air, and you can’t seem to get enough for your body to quiet down.

This is why, in the hunger scale I give you, being at a 1 or 2 (extremely hungry or famished) is a dangerous place to be. You can never get enough to fill you up until it is too late to notice that you are full, you eat quickly, another obstacle to feeling full with an amount of food that would usually satisfy you, and you want to eat whatever is easily available. 

Furthermore, because simple carbohydrates – like chips, bread and candy – are usually easily available and easy to reach for, they tend to be the binge foods we eat. It is highly unlikely that we would say to ourselves – “I need food and I need it now. Let me whip up some French Onion soup with crusty bread and maybe a salad too.” 

So step #1 is just not to let yourself get that hungry. Bingeing for emotional reasons is another issue that falls under head and heart hunger, but for the purposes of working with this principle, I am going to deal with physical hunger, and ignoring your hunger cues is not a good road to travel down. With past dieting efforts it has been virtuous to ignore hunger cues. The rules might be, “Don’t eat between meals.” “Don’t eat after 6PM.” “Drink water if you think you are hungry.” “Take sips of water between bites of food to fill you up.” “Don’t take seconds.” 

Can you see how all these rules are ignoring biological hunger? Is there any doubt that we are gasping for air more often than not? It is also not even just a matter of physically depriving yourself for food that will cause this hunger. It is also the chronic food deprivation we face with dieting. If you have an experience of food scarcity this creates what is called “diet or food trauma.” What this means is that you might have experienced events or a lifestyle surrounding food (most often diets) that causes you to feel anxious, fearful, and overwhelmed when eating. When we are faced with foods we have been denying ourselves or have felt trauma around, that too causes that gasping for air feeling when you finally take a bite of the forbidden food, or just eat more than your strict diet has been allowing.

Again, I have to bring up the concept of Gentle Nutrition even though we aren’t there yet. What if you have a medical condition and cannot eat certain foods because they aggravate your condition? Well, unless you are going to go into anaphylactic shock which you want to avoid, you can make a decision about whether you want to suffer the consequences by eating that food. There is a lot of territory between a stomachache and dying, and within that territory, you set your gentle nutrition guidelines in a way that most honors your health and your emotional wellbeing. I think that as you feel better because of your chosen way of eating, wanting food that will hurt you will become less prominent in what you desire to eat. 

Body Cue Awareness

Perceiving the physical sensations that arise from within your body is called interoceptive awareness. This is what has been dulled after years of ignoring your hunger cues. The obstacles to having heightened interoceptive awareness are usually from the rules in your mind that I spoke of above: “Don’t eat between meals.” “Don’t eat after 6PM.” “Drink water if you think you are hungry.” “Take sips of water between bites of food to fill you up.” “Don’t take seconds.” These rules, beliefs, and thoughts trick us into thinking we are not hungry, but we are. 

The first exercise for this section of the workbook was something like that handwriting metaphor that was so helpful in making a point. 

This exercise – the setting the stage for the rest of the principle – had to do with self-attunement. Self-attunement has to do with mindfulness and more importantly, self-compassion. This allows us to pay attention to the present moment without judgment and to observe our own thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations without getting caught up in them.   

In the first part of the exercise, I had to physically monitor my pulse. It took several tries to find it in my wrist. When you have been exercising it is usually easy to find it right away in your neck. But once I quieted down, I was able to find it by putting my index and middle fingers on the wrist of the opposite arm. 

The second part of the exercise was to sit quietly with no distractions and see if I could feel my pulse within my body. I was surprised that I could feel my pulse. I felt it in my neck at my jawline and in my throat just below my ears.

This self-awareness sets the stage for paying attention to our body’s signals. This could be with regard to being hungry or thirsty. It could be with regard to the need for relaxation or movement. It could be with regard to overwhelm or restlessness. Interoceptive awareness is part of meditation when you are asked to focus on the breath, or you can do this pulse-awareness exercise for the same result. 

Self-Care and Attunement Disrupters

In my classes and resources about urges and cravings I talk about how self-care can be bubble baths and manicures, but it is so much more than that. Those are just surface activities. Yes, they can make you feel better physically and mentally, but they are at a surface level. 

Attunement disrupters are anything that interferes with your ability to respond to the needs of your body. Developing deeper self-care than bubble baths and manicures, will lessen the disrupters as you become stronger in hearing and responding to your hunger cues. What are some of these self-care activities and attunement disrupters?

·       Physical – Self-Care would be

o   Getting good quality sleep

o   Taking time off from work when you are sick

o   Engaging in physical activity you enjoy

·       Physical Attunement disrupters would be

o   Skipping meals when you are pressed for time

o   Multi-tasking when you are eating

o   Being sleep deprived

·       Emotional and Psychological Self-Care would be

o   Making time to relax

o   Making time to play

o   Taking time for self-reflection

·       Emotional and Physical Attunement Disruptors would be

o   Feeling guilty if you aren’t being productive all the time

o   Engaging in negative self-talk

o   Not allowing yourself to feel your feelings 

·       Relationship Self-Care would be

o   Spending time with people you enjoy

o   Staying in contact with friends and relatives

o   Making time for your family

·       Relationship Attunement Disruptors would be

o   Worrying about what people think of you

o   Withdrawing from people when you are stressed out

o   Not wanting to burden friends and family with your problems

The exercise and accompanying charts go on to explore self-care and attunement disruptors for Spiritual needs and Boundaries. The Self-Care Reflection asked about what trends I saw, what were my strengths, categories I am not addressing at all, categories that need more attention, and then about attunement disruptors. 

The next exercise was about Self-Care practices in each category I would like to increase and then what attunement disruptors in each category I would like to decrease. 

I found that, among other things, I wanted to reduce multitasking during meals. I am pretty good at sitting at the dining room table for almost all my meals – I certainly don’t ever stand in front of the fridge or over the counter when I am eating. But, I would like to increase my meals out on the deck or down at the beach. I saw that I need to create and respect a routine. Even with all the work I do on my business, it is still loosey-goosey with regard to time management because I am, after all, retired. I miss having some structure.  

My most serious attunement disruptor was that I take pride in being busy. It’s just hard wired into me and, although, it is not the worst thing in the world I don’t relax, I don’t play, I don’t have hobbies, I don’t take breaks during the day. My lightbulb moment with this is that this is partly why I turn to food outside of being hungry. I don’t give myself any REAL down time or breaks so at least going into the kitchen, getting something to eat, and then eating is DOING something. If I cultivated NOT doing, then maybe I would find that I don’t eat as a distraction.

Getting to Know Your Biological Hunger

The next section in the workbook was about the Hunger-Body-Mind Connection. The authors pointed out, and I agree, that if you have not experienced hunger in a long time because you have been numbed by ignoring your hunger, then it will take a little time to be able to hear and experience those cues. 

As I said above, ignoring hunger cues can come from diet rules like, “Don’t eat between meals or after dinner,” or “Don’t eat outside your fasting window.” But the cues can also be dulled by eating for things other than hunger. This can be eating by the clock. It can be that you eat to stuff down your stress or emotions. It can be that you eat for distraction, or as in my personal example, eat to keep busy.

In my book and course, I use the same hunger scale that these authors use. They, and I, make note of the fact that it is best to eat when your body is in a normal eating range where the quality of your hunger is pleasant and comfortable to where it is neutral. This will fall in the 3 to 7 range of the scale. My thoughts on this are slightly different, in that I suggest that you consider stopping at a 6 when you start to feel full because about 20 minutes later that pleasant feeling of “emerging fullness” as they put it will bloom into TOO full, in my experience. 

Often when I am a paying-attention mood I will stop even before I begin to get that feeling of fullness. It takes a lot of tuning in and experimenting because sometimes if I eat until I’m just not hungry anymore, I get hungry soon after. It’s okay to eat again, really. And sometimes what I don’t finish I will cover and put in the fridge and just finish later when I realize that stopping at enough wasn’t quite enough. But this is not always convenient and I know I probably won’t have a chance to eat until much later in the afternoon, so I look for that “emerging” fullness signal which is just on the other side of “enough.” 

I promise you folks, that if you really take time for this you won’t be sorry. This sweet spot of “emerging fullness” will help you on any eating journey you are on. It is the single most important factor in throwing out your measuring cups, measuring spoons, and food scales. Even though Intuitive Eating is not intended as a weight loss program I can almost promise you that if you identify this “emerging fullness” cue you won’t be disappointed in where you are going with it.

This workbook chapter continues with a Hunger Discovery Scale Journal. I advise my client to always assign a number to their hunger before they start eating and then again when they are finished. Pay attention to how you feel with that number. Pretty soon you can skip the number and just go on the feeling about whether it is time to start eating or stop eating. The Journal in the workbook also addresses the quality of the hunger (unpleasant, neutral or pleasant), what foods you have eaten, and any reflections you have about it. 

Making note of which foods you are eating will be very helpful for your gentle nutrition practice. This is what the other episode that I wrote this morning has to do with. Certain foods themselves can influence your hunger scale.

THIS WEEK’S ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE

This week Download Using Your Hunger Scale available at miriamhatoum.com/resources. THEN, use it! If you can hit 7 meals between now and next week that would be perfect. Maybe do the same meal every day and also pay attention to see how different foods make you feel. Maybe do all three meals a day for a couple of days. Maybe just do weekend meals. The point is, I would like you to get into the practice of assigning a number to your hunger and also assigning a number at the other end where you have stopped eating. 

A second thing to do this week is to try the Interoceptive Awareness exercise of finding your pulse and then listening for it in your body. It doesn’t have to be a daily practice but do it a few times. The authors say, “For people who have body dissatisfaction and anxiety around eating, this is a novel way to connect with their body, because it is purely listening.”

Next week’s episode

Next week I will continue with Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger. I haven’t done the exercises yet, but I have looked ahead and it seems as though my previous work is on the same page as what is being presented. The topics are Nourishment as Self-Care, My Self-Care Nourishment Plan: Nutrition 911, and I Can’t Be Hungry – I just Ate! Distinguishing Between Thoughts and Hunger Cues. I’m really excited to work on this, share it with you and share my own coaching advice and outlook.

 If you are enjoying this podcast, I do have a favor to ask of you. Please subscribe to this podcast and leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast. It helps other people find it by bringing it up in the various directories. Also, don’t be a stranger. Come on over to my Facebook page, Breaking Free From Diet Prison, and let me know if there is anything you would like to hear on the show. 

 Please share the podcast with your friends, let them know we are going on an Intuitive Eating journey, and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become free from diet prison.

 Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time. 

Get all my free guides
Take a look at this great course
Join me on Facebook
Follow me on Instagram
Check out Pinterest
And don't forget my book!