Tuning In can help us to find out if we are hungry or not but only if we know how it actually feels for us to be hungry in the first place.
For a couple of my dieting years, I never allowed myself to become hungry. I ate every two hours, even if it was just a snack bar, and I ate three meals a day as well. I was following a diet Guru (see future blog about Gurus!) who said it was dangerous to allow ourselves to become hungry because we would go berserk in the presence of food and stuff ourselves silly. There are so many assumptions in that advice that I would now take issue with, but for the moment, let’s focus on being or feeling hungry.
During that time of my life, I didn’t know how it felt when I was hungry because I was constantly eating. I even carried emergency food around with me at all times in case I found myself stranded somewhere with no access to food (almost an impossibility these days!). So Beyond Chocolate has been, for me, a process of reclaiming my hunger and rediscovering how it feels for me to be hungry. And to progress from that point to the enjoyment of eating from a place of hunger (but that’s another blog!).
If you, for whatever reason, don’t know what you feel like when you are hungry – this is the Principle that will help you reconnect with your hunger in a positive way. And Tuning In helps – for some people, hunger is a physical sensation; a hollowness in the midriff or churning in the stomach, for example. When was the last time you felt this? How did you identify this as hunger as opposed to another sensation?
Other people find that hunger is more emotional; a feeling of panic causing them to search out food immediately, they feel murderous and desperate, almost driven by these emotions to consume anything within reach.
There are bound to be other ways of feeling hunger – but if we never allow ourselves to feel hungry, how will we know what it feels like and how will we know it’s time to eat?
If you would like to experiment with this Principle, one way to do it would be to choose a day when you can really focus on yourself, your eating and your body and test it out. Tune In first thing – can you identify any physical or emotional sensations that suggest hunger to you? If you had to put that sensation on a scale where 10 is ‘stuffed to the gunnels’ and 0 is ‘absolutely starving’; where would you be right now?
Then at intervals during the day, Tune In again. Has that sensation changed? Intensified? Decreased? Where are you feeling it? What happens if you eat now? What happens if you don’t?
This is a very individual Principle and one that can be experimented with in a number of ways but it can be really helpful to devise your own ‘Hunger Scale’ and identify all the stages you experience between 10 and 0 and how those manifest for you.
Once you know how it feels when you are hungry and what happens when you eat at point 1 on your scale as opposed to point 8, you are more in touch with your own hunger and can begin to manage it to suit yourself (but that’s another blog too!).
When hungry, eat your rice; when tired, close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean. —Lin-Chi