Don’t be afraid of hunger. It isn’t the enemy. It’s just a tool your body has of letting your “conscious pilot” know it is time to refuel.
We talked in earlier posts about the “auto-pilot” in your brain who controls your inner workings while your conscious “you” copes with more important things in the outside world. Click here to learn about your autopilot.
When your body begins to run low on fuel, it sends a chemical message to the auto-pilot that it is time to fill up the tank. The hormone ghrelin is the hunger signal. We tend to panic when we get really hungry — hungry enough to actually notice. We feel we are starving and MUST eat right away.
But is it really such a big deal? If you are prone to panic eating when hunger strikes, step back and think about what you are really feeling. It is just a hormone signal. The empty feeling is nothing to panic about. Those of us who survived giving birth can certainly deal with a few pangs. No need to start stuffing the first available food into our mouths. In fact, hunger pains come but they also go. After about 15 minutes, the pangs will ebb again.
Of course, the wisest plan is to eat several small, low-glycemic meals and snacks throughout the day so that your hunger signals don’t get out of control. If life intervenes and you aren’t able to do that, don’t go crazy when you hunger hits. Think about what you are feeling and tell your auto-pilot, “Okay, I get the message. I’ll refuel. Calm down.” Drink some water first. Then slowly eat the best food choice available. You’ll find you enjoy the food more because of the hunger. I mentioned slowly because we tend to gobble when hunger hits. It takes about 20 minutes for the ghrelin hunger message to fade away and the leptin message to arrive in the brain. Leptin is the hormone that says, “Okay, you can stop now. Sufficient fuel is onboard.”
When you eat too fast, you are already overloaded before your conscious pilot gets the notice to stop.
If you pause to think about what you are feeling and why, you will realize that hunger is nothing to fear. It’s just a tool — one you CAN control.
Eating to live and living for Christ,
Susan Jordan Brown