Regaining Your Hunger: Fuel For Freedom

Regaining Your Hunger

Oh, uh. There it goes again. Either my stomach was rumbling or there was a very small, very angry alien in there. Regardless, I was hungry.

I had run out of snacks, and I could tell that my body needed dinner. And big one at that. After my family found somewhere to eat, I shoveled down a pulled pork sandwich, giant pickle, a nectarine, some of my dad’s milkshake, shared fries… I’m amazed I managed to not eat the napkin.

About an hour later I realized… I had eaten what I wanted.

I had allowed myself to eat what I wanted, how much I wanted, without a second thought. My body told me it was hungry, so I fed it what it was craving.

By eating, I am showing strength, not weakness

For a long time, I overruled my body’s hunger signal. A few stomach grumbles? Try a piece of gum (only 5 calories!). Dizzy? You’re only dehydrated. Fizzy seltzer water or diet soda pop will make you feel fuller too.

Eating disorders make us think we aren’t hungry. We figure out reasons why we can’t be hungry. We just ate a salad. We just binged on peanut butter.

But there’s a flip side. In recovery, hunger becomes scary. I carried at least 5 protein bars on me at all times, a bag of mixed nuts, about 3 pieces of fruit. I thought I needed these snacks, just incase I couldn’t get to food or I didn’t like whatever restaurant we ended up at.

More than that, I feared the newfound hunger I had for life.

inspiration quote Mindy Kaling

Okay, maybe a little corny, but it’s true. Eating disorders leave no room for living. Our thoughts revolve around food, exercise, body image, all our flaws and inadequacies. Basically, we fear (pardon the language!) “fucking up”:

Deviating from our routine (What’s not broken doesn’t need fixed right?)

Gaining weight

Appearing vulnerable

Changing what people think is our “identity”

Acknowledging that we don’t have it all together all the time

Regaining Your Hunger

None of that can be changed overnight. I needed to regain my connection to my body’s physical hunger signals before I could work on reconnecting with what my mind and soul craved.

One of the keys? Uncertainty.

Yes, a solution to realizing what I was hungry for was actually becoming uncertain. Becoming uncomfortable.

Perfection is impossible, yet we tell ourselves we can do it. We can have the “perfect” diet, exercise regimen, body. Heck, the perfect life. If we only do X, then we can be Y.

Every day, allow yourself to be uncertain about one thing.

Give yourself permission to try a new activity. Go skydiving. Try hot yoga. Submit that short story manuscript to a publisher. Try for that raise.

Give yourself permission to not eat “perfectly”, however that manifests for you. Bread your fish for dinner, even though it’s not Paleo. Have an ice cream cone with your sister. Order that cheesy dish that sounds delicious at your favorite restaurant, instead of the “safe” Caesar salad. Take food off of its pedestal.

Give yourself permission to try… and fail. Maybe you didn’t get that job. Maybe you realized you probably shouldn’t have eaten all those candy canes you were craving after downing spicy chicken wings.

embracing uncertainty

Life isn’t going to be perfect, so think of these little challenges as training. When we welcome a little uncertainty in our daily routines, we learn to become less anxious. When we become less anxious, we lessen our need to be perfect.

I still feel hungry.

I still get anxious. I still have fears. I still struggle sometimes to choose a dessert, when I “know” I should only have one “cheat” meal. I still don’t know what I want to do with my degree when I graduate, how I want to serve the world.

Yes, hunger is uncomfortable. But hunger is not something to be feared.

Hunger is a sign of a healthy body and mind. We need food as physical nourishment, and we need aspirations as spiritual nourishment.

The food we eat, the goals we strive for do not need to be “earned.” If we’re starving, we can’t embrace the present.

We can’t truly live.

Sometimes cravings = gelato.

So, take a moment and figure out: What am I really craving?

Have that bowl of ice cream smothered in whipped cream and sprinkles. Try for that new position at your job. Change your career. Heck, figuring out what you’re hungry for can be as simple as putting aside that stressful to-do list and chilling out with a movie for an evening.

Those stomach grumbles may sound like an axe murderer revving up his chainsaw, but you don’t need to run from your hunger.

Allow yourself to eat.

—-> How do you satisfy your hunger?


9 thoughts on “Regaining Your Hunger

  1. I remember becoming completely terrified of hunger when I was going through recovery. And mine was actually kind of grounded because if I went too long without eating, my blood sugar would drop like crazy and I’d end up close to passing out. The joys of healing, eh? But the more time that goes on, and the more you allow yourself to eat enough and eat what you want, the more your body trusts you and hunger doesn’t become such a scary thing anymore. There are days when I feel more hungry, and days when I feel less hungry, and I don’t feel like I need to eat a specific amount anymore just to get it “right.” It’s all about just giving our body what it’s asking for.

    • I cna relate on the blood sugar problem, but I guess that’s another reason why finally achieving recovery is so awesome. Thanks for sharing, and it sounds like you’ve managed to reach a good balance! It’s so encouraging to find out that our bodies actually do know what’s best for us, and that it has nothing to do with what we think is “right” or what a magazine tells us we “should” eat. All we need to do is actually listen.

  2. Thank you for writing this! I think that hunger in recovery is not discussed enough, and I can completely relate to the genuine far of it that exists. Congratulations for allowing yourself to eat what you wanted!

    • I completely agree that hunger is overlooked in recovery, which makes it that much scarier when we experience it. However, it’s not something we should fear because it’s a sign of gaining a healthy body and mind again. Thanks for reading!

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