Today we are chatting about tenant #2 out of the 10 Intuitive Eating tenants! Head back to the previous post about "ditching diet culture", tenant #1, if you missed it!
On the surface level, “honouring your hunger” may seem like a simple feat to some… however, for many, once we dig a little deeper into the concept people soon realize they haven’t actually been honouring their hunger all that closely!
This concept is all about fuelling our bodies on a daily basis with *adequate calories and carbohydrates*, so in a world where calorie and carb restrictions are the new norm this biological need often falls to the wayside.
A lot of this work is myth-busting. So, here are some facts that combat a few of the misconceptions I often see that go against the grain of honouring our hunger:
Fact #1: Waiting to eat until you are ravenous is not honouring your hunger. When we allow ourselves to enter into this state of over-hunger, we are much less likely to be able to eat within our bodies needs (aka we binge) and we start to atrophy our bodies natural hunger cues since we are consistently ignoring the earlier signs of hunger(1).
Fact #2: Eating 3 bowls of salad without dressing to curb your hunger and avoid the carbs your craving is not honouring your hunger. Approaching this meal with balance by choosing an appropriate portion of salad with your favourite dressing, a slice or two of toast, and a source of protein is honouring your hunger - if this is actually what your body is asking for in the moment.
Fact #3: Choosing diet products and eating them in a larger quantity than you would the foods you are actually craving is not honouring your hunger. Approaching your cravings from a balanced mindset, by allowing yourself to have the foods you actually want (guilt-free), and eating them in a mindful and distraction-free way is honouring your hunger.
Fact #4: Any calorie or carb restricted diet, even if you feel full by the end of the day, is not honouring your hunger. If you are depriving yourself in any way of calories or carbs, over time your body will rebel with binges or changes to biological functioning (see “why diets don’t work”). One fact I like to tie into this myth is that our bodies will automatically start creating a particular brain chemical when we are carb deprived, called Neuropeptide Y, which drives us to crave and eat carbs - since it is our body and brains preferred energy source(1)!
Fact #5: Drinking copious amounts of water before meals to fill your stomach up so you intentionally eat less than your body needs is not honouring your hunger. While water is 100% an essential nutrient for the bodies functioning, it does not provide any calories or macronutrients. So, while water should absolutely be included in your daily routine, it is not a substitute for food!
So, how do we start honouring our hunger? Here are a few tips:
#1. Start paying attention to your bodies natural hunger cues, signs of earlier hunger (aka before we are starving) might look like:
Mild churning or slight hunger pangs in the stomach
Faint growling noises
Difficulty concentrated, or frequent thoughts drifting to food
Irritability (yep, hanger is a real thing)
Check out the hunger scale below and see where you typically land before and after your meals! A great goal to work towards is to try and stick within the 3-7 range most of the time, as this is when we are the most satisfied and honouring our hunger.
#2. Listen to when your body is asking for more food, as it often plays “catch up” on its own terms. If you ate less than normal a few days prior, it is normal to be hungrier a few days later to balance the biological scales!
#3. Respect all foods as equals, when someone or something is trying to tell you to cut carbs/calories/flavour in the name of diet culture, politely (or not, you do you), tell them you aren’t living that diet life anymore! Our bodies deserve more than that!
That wraps up the second tenant of Intuitive Eating, thank you for reading and I hope you found it useful!
If you have questions about this concept or are looking for ways to start honouring your hunger please reach out to me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or find my contact info on the website at www.nourishtoflourishdietetics.com/contact-info
(1) Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2020). Intuitive Eating, 4th edition. St. Martins Publishing Group.