Hunger don’t give a sh*t

On Dec 19, 2012 In Tags: , , ,

Last weekend I had the distinct privilege of being treated to a phenomenal meal at a Brazilian Barbeque restaurant. I don’t know if you’ve ever been to one, but it. Is. Amazing. Imagine if you will, a coaster with a red and green side. Flip the coaster to green and within minutes, servers carrying one of 9 types/cuts of meat on swords arrive to offload sizeable amounts of meat onto your plate. As much as you want until you flip that coaster to red. That is a crapton of meat. I had to flip my coaster to red out of surrender at one point because they just kept coming and I could not keep up (don’t worry, I did flip it back to green after I cleared my plate.)

Point being that if there was actually a medical condition and not just a colloquial term known as a “meat coma”, I would have been in one. I have no idea how many calories that meal was, but it was a LOT.

Here’s the thing: The next morning, I was hungry again. I probably ate a small mammals’ worth of meat the night before–more than I calories I would need in a day in a single meal and 8-12 hours later, I was ready to eat again. I could have stopped after the first plate of meat and felt satisfied, and the SAME 8-12 hours later would have felt the exact same degree of hunger. You’ve probably experienced the same thing.

Hunger does not come from what you’ve eaten before. It comes (crudely) from 1) what’s currently in (or not in) your stomach (which is, on a very basic level, something, or nothing), 2) the amount of time since something was last in your stomach, and (this is a big kicker,) 3) how you’re socialized to eat.

Note that “How much you last ate,” is not in that list.

I _could_ go on about things that influence satiety (i.e. the feeling of being full), but it’s also largely something that is trainable. You _can_ learn to feel full on less food (measured by volume or by calories; and there’s research to indicate that “taste satiety” as well as “texture satiety” play roles in when you feel full, and also why dessert might be an actual important part of a meal). I could also go on about classical conditioning and how Pavlov’s dog, who was conditioned to drool at the sound of a bell was, unlike you, not in control of whether food appeared after the bell or not. Unfortunately, you ARE in control of the food; and therefore when you sense eating cues, you not only drool (hopefully figuratively), you can also actively satisfy food-seeking behaviour.

If you’re trying to lose weight by eating less, you might want to consider these small things. While you CAN recognize that a lot of your eating patterns are socially learned behaviours, that particular realization doesn’t really change feelings of hunger. And while you can also learn to change those socialized patterns, things don’t always change overnight. I don’t think it’s realistic to just decide to stop eating for 24 hours and expect that it’s going to be just fine if you’ve been eating 4-6 meals per day, or even just 3 squares a day. You’re GOING to get hungry because you’re conditioned to be hungry when you normally eat food.

Change what you can, leave what you can’t. You can’t change hunger over the short-term, but you CAN change how you satisfy it. Pay attention to your food. Be mindful of distracted and rushed eating (I can, and have absentmindedly eaten a TUB of popcorn at a movie that I was supposed to share. Seriously, how am _I_ responsible for them not reaching over for popcorn??) If you have to eat in a rush, then pick out something smaller than you would if you had the time to enjoy it. You won’t notice the difference in a rush, and you’ll just feel hungry again when you’re conditioned to feel hungry.

However, you can rest assured that however you decide to tackle the problem, hunger will always occur again; and that it’s NOT that dependent on how much you’ve already eaten. To paraphrase, “Hunger don’t care. Hunger don’t give a shit.” So go ahead, take the time to taste your food. Since you’re just going to be hungry again no matter what you do, you may as well keep it borderline content instead of killing it every time. It’s not like it’s grateful or anything‚Ķ

If it doesn’t matter what you do, why go for broke?

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