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Why Not Eating When You Are Hungry is a Bad Idea

Contrary to what we’ve been taught by the media and weight loss companies, going hungry will not ultimately help you manage your weight. In fact, if weight loss is your goal, going hungry is more likely to be working against you. Consider the following…

  • Ignoring your hunger sets your body up to physically rebel by making you focus only on eating and food. Your attempts to push down your hunger cause your brain to focus more and more on eating and food. Your body has one driving goal – survival. To survive your body must sleep, eat and drink water. Attempts to deny your body of these most basic needs will be overridden by your survival instinct, which is much stronger than your willpower or your desire to lose weight — and not because you are weak, this is true for humans in general. We are only here on this earth today because our ancestors had strong enough survival instincts to drive them to eat, slept and drink water long enough to procreate!
  • Ignoring your hunger sets your body up to seek out higher calorie foods than you’d look for if you ate when you were moderately hungry. The hungrier you are the more your body will search out foods that are calorie, carbohydrate and fat-dense. Most attempts to put off hunger are met with cravings later in the day for foods high in sugar and fat which is why many dieters who eat a very small breakfast (or skip it completely) and restrict at lunch will find themselves binging in the evening on high-calorie foods.
  • Ignoring your hunger will make you more likely to choose poorly at your next meal. The hungrier we are the less time we will give ourselves to figure out what we really want to eat when we do eat. Extreme hunger will drive us to eat the first or most convenient food available, which is not always what you really would want to eat if you weren’t so driven to eat right in that moment.  The foods you choose when you are extremely hungry might fill you up physically and meet your body’s energy requirements but often aren’t psychologically satisfying, leaving you wanting for something else even after you are no longer physically hungry.
  • Ignoring your hunger will make you more likely to not savor your next meal. When we are extremely hungry, we are more likely to eat so fast that we cannot savor or enjoy the food. Like choosing foods that are satisfying, not savoring our food sets us up for overeating as we continue to search for the feeling of being satisfied even after the physical need of fullness has been met.
  • Ignoring your hunger will make you more likely to eat past fullness at your next meal. Eating quickly out of hunger doesn’t only mean that we won’t savor or enjoy the food we eat. When we let ourselves get too hungry we end up eating so fast that we miss the signs that our body sends telling us we are full, leading to eating more than we physically need.
  • Going hungry sends messages to your body to conserve energy. Even if you are able to refrain from eating when hungry and manage to override all your body’s attempts to get you to eat more and/or to eat higher caloric foods, your body has other ways of saving energy and protecting itself from weight loss (which it sees as a threat to its survival). Lowering your basal metabolism is one of these adaptations as is reducing your drive to exercise, move (and even get up off the couch!) and increasing your desire to rest and sleep more hours.  These adjustments are made to balance your energy output with the reduced number of calories you are consuming.

Contact us to learn how we can help you eat intuitively and leave dieting behind for good!