Psychological Hunger... Compared to the Real Thing

And.... we're back! I'd like to thank readers for indulging CK's one-month hiatus while I spent a month in Poland attempting to learn my first Slavic language. Dziękuję bardzo!
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If you've ever heard someone say "I'm starving!" take three minutes to watch this monologue by comedian Louis C.K.

Let's start off by just spitting out the truth: Hardly anyone is ever really "hungry" in the genuine sense of experiencing starvation. Like Louis C.K. says, if you ate (((today))) you really shouldn't say you're hungry.

But then again, we do feel hungry. It's a feeling, and it feels real. In fact, it feels so real that we almost always obey it by eating! Come to think of it, one way to think about obesity is to see it as an unlucky intersection of three things: wide food availability, our survival instinct, and the strong emotional experience of the "feeling" of hunger.

So, if you want to really learn about the feeling of hunger, if you want to learn how to sit with the feeling--even to get comfortable with it, instead of reacting to it or fearing it--I urge you to experiment, gradually, with intermittent fasting techniques.

We all know, in the logical part of our brains, that humans can easily go days without eating. Days. Now, we're finding mounting scientific evidence that occasional fasting is actually healthy for the human body. And the entire discipline of intermittent fasting is built around this steadily growing body of evidence.

What I've found surprising in my experiences practicing intermittent fasting is how fasting helps you explore the emotional side of hunger. Over the past several months I've felt a lot more around the edges of the "feeling" of hunger. I've learned it simply isn't what I thought it was, and I've learned to differentiate it from true hunger. The two are most definitely not the same.

Even when I've really pushed myself and attempted fasting windows of twenty or twenty-one hours, the psychological feeling of hunger has become an interesting experience for me, and not something I react to with fear or panic, like I most certainly would have in the past. (Hang onto that thought--I'll talk more about it in next week's post.)

I've encouraged readers here to experiment with intermittent fasting, and I want to encourage it again. It doesn't just offer health benefits, and it doesn't just help you burn body fat. It teaches you not to fear the feeling of hunger. That alone makes it worth it.

Now, instead of saying, "I haven't eaten since 2:00. I'm STARVING," you might find yourself merely thinking, "I haven't eaten since 2:00." You won’t feel the need to tack on the (attention-getting?) phrase I'm STARVING at the end, because it doesn't merit being said.


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2 comments:

Lauren said...

I notice I experience hunger in two different ways: the growly-belly way, which I can observe and ignore or indulge as needed/possible, and more occasionally the "hangry" low-blood-sugar thing that I notice more as fuzzy thinking and terrible emotional control. This second one I have decided is best to calorically medicate ASAP because there's no riding it out. Have your readers also noticed this? How have they responded?

Daniel said...

Interesting to hear.

A big part of it for me in terms of handling the latter type of hunger is what type of calories made up my last meal. I'll get into this in more detail with next week's post.

But I'm curious, Lauren, when you say "there's no riding it out." What is it that makes you say this? Once again, we know that humans can go for days--days--without food. In no way am I telling you what to do, I'm just curious how you've reached this conclusion regarding this type of hunger.

DK