thin within: day two

thinwithinDay two was about “my relationship with myself and my relationship with God”. We begin the day by answering another questionnaire about our relationship with God. Of course, I won’t be posting my answers, but I will say that a couple of the questions made me uncomfortable. It wasn’t because they were bizarre, but because I didn’t like my authentic answer. There were a couple of questions that I know my answers are different now (in a good way) than they would have been last year.

I enjoyed the “God is love” portion. It was a great reminder of how He feels toward us. I also liked how the author listed some of the less than perfect people God worked through in the Bible. I figure if He can use them for His kingdom, He can use me too. This section definitely had the goal of building trust in our Creator. I think sometimes we say we trust Him, but our actions say otherwise. I mean, I would say that I was “wonderfully made” but I wouldn’t trust that the body He made could tell me when, what, and how much to eat… instead I would rely on diet gurus and food labels and apps.

Discovering My Own Hunger Level

This section was where the spiritual application joins with the physical application of trusting God.

Since your body is one of God’s masterpieces, it can be trusted. ~ Thin Within (p. 20)

The author introduces what she calls the “Bodometer Process”. Kind of a funny name, but she tells the reader to invite God into this process to help you know the clear answers. She then goes on to describe a process which helps you identify true physical hunger. I was actually thrilled to realize that I am on track for detecting physical hunger, but I loved the in depth descriptions about what is and what isn’t stomach hunger. I did use the full process twice during day two, I used a shortened version at other times (kind of like a “quick check”).

The Hunger Scale Tool

Ok, this was probably my favorite part of this day. Something about “you’re either at a zero or you’re not”, was comforting. I did feel like it reduced my anxiety over questioning whether I was hungry or not. So, I started trying to wait until there was no doubt I was hungry. Plus, it seemed to help resolve any lingering issues I had over the “your body needs less food than you think” concept from day one.

The really interesting thing about waiting until there is no doubt I’m hungry is that it seems to make it so much easier to recognize when I’ve had enough. I am finding that already… only two days into this thing… I’m pushing my plate away at shocking points in my meal.

I almost got a bit “bent out of shape” when the author made a recommendation that we choose “God’s provision of water” over “man-made” beverages, but then I reread it and focused on the “we recommend“. It isn’t like they are saying you’re going to Hell if you drink coffee or soda. And they aren’t setting a diet rule of “only drink water to be on plan”.

Healing is reaching a point where we can recognize that some things truly do benefit our bodies more than others without making those observations into “rules to live by”.

The Hunger Scale, that showed where you are if you’re holding on to extra weight or even gaining weight, kind of blew my mind. I think I stared at it for a while…. and then stared at it some more. Then they moved on to demonstrating that our empty stomachs are about the size of our closed fist. I am almost certain I’ve heard this before, but when I held up my fist and pictured some of those meals at the local, yummy, Mexican joint… um, yeah, I’ve definitely eaten past full. So I stared at my closed fist and said, “this is the size of your empty stomach”. Then I kept that visual in mind each time I fixed myself a plate of food. That doesn’t mean I only put that amount on my plate, it just means I kept it in mind. I would definitely agree with what the author said about our stomach size:

… however, it is a reality, and when reckoned with can be quite freeing. ~ Thin Within (p. 23)

You see, I think so often, those of us who grapple with binge eating think our stomachs are bottomless pits that will never be “full”. This visual shows us that they are not that way at all. We can honor our stomachs by not putting more food in there than what would be comfortable. We know what “stuffed” feels like. It’s miserable and doesn’t feel “honoring” at all.

Again, I got my back up at yet another quote from the book… seriously, I’m super sensitive when it comes to this stuff:

To honor God, who walks with us, and who leads and directs us, we need to honor the unique and amazing body he has made especially for each of us. ~ Thin Within (p. 24)

I could see how someone might take this as a form of condemnation if we don’t only do what appears beneficial all the time. So I read it again and asked God if this is what He means for me to take from this sentence. He told me to look up the word “honor”. That little word put the entire sentence into the proper perspective:

Honor: high respect; esteem

I absolutely want to show God the utmost respect and esteem Him above all else. I will never do this perfectly though, and God knows this. He knows I’m human. The goal is to live as Christ, but we must also understand that we need God’s mercy to live at all. The other day my 17 year old was asked “what’s the difference between mercy and grace” to which he replied:

It’s by God’s mercy that we’re still living on this earth, and it’s by His grace that we are saved. ~ my kid

Sometimes honoring our body is eating pie. I know that may sound strange, but sometimes your body might need pie. It might be the psychological part, but that’s still part of you. Eating pie is not a sin. Eating past “comfortable” won’t condemn you either. It may not be honoring, but it’s not condemning.

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, ~ Romans 8:1 (NIV)

Should we try to honor our hunger cues? Absolutely. Are we condemned when we don’t? No. The author later reiterates that The Hunger Scale is a tool and should be treated as such. Ha ha… “It’s a tool, not a rule!” I just made that up. Yeah, I know I’m cool (rolls eyes).

Anyway, those are the major points I took away. There was much more than this, but I’m trying not to make these posts soooo long.

That’s my Day 2 🙂

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T=”Table” & S=”Sofa”

 

 

 

 

hunger unmasked: sensual situations

Ok, I’ll admit it. When I saw the word “Sensual” in Suriel’s book, my mind went in a totally different direction than she intended. (blush) Of course, she definitely had my attention. So, now that I have your attention, let’s move on to our next situational hunger.

Sensual Hunger

Our senses are so powerful that they can trigger what Josie Spinardi calls “fake hunger”. You walk into a movie theater after having a delicious meal at your favorite restaurant. You aren’t remotely hungry. In fact, you might be a tad on the full side. Suddenly you have an urge for a large buttery popcorn and a box of Jr. Mints. Is this physical hunger? No, it’s full-blown sensual hunger. Your senses are triggering your desire to eat.

You’re sitting in the stands cheering on your favorite baseball team. You don’t even have to smell them. You hear someone shout, “hotdogs, hotdogs, get ’em while they’re hot”. Or maybe you’re a “beer and nachos” kind of sporting event gal. The point is, your ears hear the words, your brain pictures it, and suddenly the meatball sub you just had thirty minutes ago is a distant memory. You aren’t physically hungry, but your senses are telling you otherwise.

What if you’re watching TV? A commercial comes on with swirling chocolate saying something about happiness being found in a little foil wrapper and what does your brain tell you it wants? A Hershey’s Kiss. Are you hungry? Heck no. You might not even like Hershey’s Kisses (I don’t anymore), but sensual hunger has been triggered. Where’s the chocolate?!

Because we’ve been confused by sensual hunger in the past, we are now conditioned to respond when it presents itself. Our eyes, ears, and nose can make us believe we are hungry when we are not. Even just being in a location (movie theater, sporting event, amusement park, your sofa) that we associate with sensual hunger can trigger fake hunger. Unfortunately, sometimes the only way to identify fake hunger before you bite into something (and realize it doesn’t taste as good as you imagined it would), is to recognize that you are suddenly craving that particular item. Remember, true hunger doesn’t crave anything in particular.

The goal is to check in with your physical being. If you’re truly hungry, by all means eat. If you aren’t, then you have a choice to make. The choice is always yours if you are following intuitive eating principles. There is no diet that says you must resist sensual hunger. There are no rules to break. All I’m asking you to do is acknowledge it for what it is… situational. If you can do that, you’ll be well on your way to intuitive eating.

Our next stop will be a place we’ve visited before (by another name), but is so important, it should be mentioned in this series as well. Join me tomorrow for a look at “Emotional Hunger“.

hunger unmasked: Intro

The other day I talked about reaching a point where I finally recognize physical hunger. The more I thought about this, the more I wanted to do a series dedicated to hunger. Unmasking hunger has been one of the most difficult aspects of intuitive eating (hunger directed eating, mindful eating) for me. Maybe it’s equally difficult for you, and if so, perhaps this series will be of benefit.

Over the years, I have confused physical hunger with so many other things. I reached a point where I believed I was addicted to food because of it. I remember being so frustrated. For the first couple of months of my Intuitive Eating journey, I couldn’t even identify true physical hunger. I’m certain that a major contributor was the diet mentality noise in my head. Once that began to clear, I was able to recognize some subtle cues, but I would often still confuse it with other needs. We will most definitely address this confusion during the series, but before we get into that, we need to know how to recognize true physical hunger.

I’ve read a few descriptions of physical hunger, but the sign I look for the most is growling/heat in my stomach (between my solar plexus and belly button). Since, for me, a headache can mean any number of things, I can’t always rely on a headache to mean “I need food”. If I feel a “rumbling” below my belly button, that’s digestion, which is not a request for food. If I feel a heavy sensation in my throat, that is thirst… and again, not a request for food.

Over the years I bought into the notion that we should never let ourselves get hungry. I think I even feared being hungry. I would have dramatic drops in blood sugar that would turn me into a cranky bear if I got hungry (at least I thought it was hunger). And then, of course, dieting just made me hate the feeling of hunger all the more because it meant restriction and deprivation.

Gentle, physical hunger cues feel nothing like blood sugar crashes resulting from sugar spikes (more on this later). They feel nothing like the ravenous eat or be eaten feeling you get from starving yourself. It’s also not a craving for a specific food. True physical hunger is gentle and not unpleasant at all. You need not fear it because it’s merely a prompting, a simple signal that says, “make your way to food”. Your taste buds become more sensitive and almost anything you eat will taste great. Likewise, almost anything you choose will be satisfying. Your nose also becomes more sensitive and I highly recommend smelling your food choice before eating it.

Admittedly, waiting for physical hunger still feels miserably tedious some days, and when that happens, I might end up eating before the signal arrives to keep from obsessing about it. In general though, I keep working on waiting for those cues and since I’m going for progress, not perfection, I don’t need to beat myself up if I jump the gun some days. I simply make a mental note that I misread my body’s signals, try to assess what it was actually telling me, and move on.

So, now that we know what physical hunger is, the next post will begin to address hunger confusion.