One Mom’s Journey from Fat to Skinny to Confident

WEEKLY QUESTIONS

Who’s Experienced Non-Hunger Hunger?

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Weekly Question

I’ve been hungry all day, but not really hungry. Does anyone know what I mean?

There are days I get into a mode where all I want to do is eat even though I’m not physically hungry. It’s a different kind of hunger. A feeling that’s really hard to explain.There’s just a desire to eat that’s constantly present even after I’ve had a satisfying meal. Sometimes IMMEDIATELY after I had that satisfying meal.

Some observations about my non-hunger hunger…

  • Sometimes it corresponds with a certain time of the month, but not always.
  • Sometimes it follows a day of eating more processed foods.
  • Sometimes it’s emotionally based, like when in a funk or feeling lonely.

These days are inevitable, for me anyway, and I deal with them in my own ways

  • Sometimes I just succumb.
  • Sometimes I satisfy the cravings with healthy alternatives to the junk I really want.
  • Sometimes I divert my attention to something else altogether.

Who shares this non-hunger hunger? Have you experienced it? How did/do you deal?



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Discussion

There are 32 comments so far.

    Tara

    December 13, 2011

    This is soo me right now!! Ad the last couple days! Mine seems to be the processed food thing

    Melody

    December 13, 2011

    I totally get it. For me it seems to happen when I’m really stressed. No time for me. Lots of time devoted to the kids and stuck in the house.

    Crystal

    December 13, 2011

    This always happens to me after eating food that is unsatisfying, like prepackaged “diet” food. Or sometimes after eating any low quality processed food or fast food. I think when I feel unsatisfied after a meal it causes me to seek out something else to eat to give me that satisfaction that I want. The only thing I tell myself to stop is to remind myself that I WILL eat again, just to wait until I’m truly hungry…this is easier said than done!

    Karen@WaistingTime

    December 13, 2011

    Often! Especially when I’m bored. So what works best is to distract myself. Getting on the computer works for me… I never snack here:) Or leaving the house to run and errand. Or drinking something.

    MsKathy

    December 13, 2011

    I think everyone has experienced this, but one of the keys is learning to recognize it. It took me 30+ years to figure out that I wasn’t constantly “hungry” … I just wanted to eat sometimes. The need to feel an immediate sense of pleasure via whatever delectable goodie I put right into my piehole.

    What do I do, know that I know and recognize?

    I pour a giant glass of ice water or make a cup of coffee/tea. Then, I do something with my hands, usually. A paper craft (card, scrapbook page), or I will go read a book. Sometimes I watch TV, but honestly, it’s so insane with all of the food ads that I avoid it.

    Most of the time, I’m glad I recognized it, and remind myself that this in and of itself is progress — even if I cave and succumb to the immediate gratification aspect.

    paige

    December 13, 2011

    I have this about a week before my period, I call it the “day of the bottomless belly”. I also experience bouts of this during certain stress. I TRY to just up my water and stay busy doing something else, but sometimes, like you, I give in.

    Amy @ Jack Sprat's Wife

    December 14, 2011

    Haha, what a great way to explain it! This is me today as well, and I just was thinking it could be because I may have accidentally eaten sugar today (I am currently off sugar). I made it through the day though… barely. Some days I just go to bed WAY early, so I am not tempted. Today, I called my mom.

    paula

    December 14, 2011

    every binge i have had is a non hunger one! recognizing it is first step and second is to not take that first bite! Iam trying hard to have moderation in my eating! a small bit of anything is really ok…

    Lyn

    December 14, 2011

    I do it all the time. I think it is a symptom of some other need that isn’t being met.

    Karen

    December 14, 2011

    Oh yeah! Basically, I have trigger foods that I used to read for instead of using healthy reactions. Basically I would eat it, I would continue to eat it, and lots more. (think sugar, think flour, think super salty, think high carby)

    Best way to deal is

    1. Know your trigger foods
    2. Don’t eat your trigger foods. There is NO trigger food I must have to live.
    2.5 Eat planned meals at planned times.
    3. Make a cup of coffee/tea or other drink
    4. Walk away from non-hunger eating and engage your brain- read, watch TV, exercise, sleep.
    5. Repeat during any emotional eating time.

    Also, mandatory reading- Refuse to Regain, by Barbara Berkeley, MD. She’s practiced weight loss and maintenance for years. She’s seen it, she’s lived it herself.

    Good luck and let us know what you think of the book if you read it. :) Karen P.

    Karen

    December 14, 2011

    I mean “reach for”. Reaching for foods that trigger eating = not facing the problem. Then having 2 problems, weight and the same problem.

    A matter of practicing new techniques of problem solving.

    easier said than done, easier to do while in a state of clarity, then sticking to structure and a plan. Good luck!!!

    Jo B

    December 14, 2011

    I’ve often wondered if it was just me! I’ve also never really thought about why I feel like that but it’s possibly a mixture of bordem and … I really don’t know what else!!! It’s frustrating :-( I do try to reach for healthier options or use avoidance tactics but sometimes I can’t help but give in. Since I’ve been reading your blogs though I have to say, even though I may have “fallen off the healthy eaing waggon” for a day here and there, I have more confidence to dismiss my naughtiness and start a fresh the next day and not punish myself.
    Thanks Roni
    p.s I tried the recent pizza recipe the other day, it was fab!

    Linda

    December 14, 2011

    wow, this is me the last few days and about the same time last month. I would say it’s “that time of the month” but I’m in the lovely stage of menopause and don’t really have that time any more. So, I love the points that Karen makes and I will be employing those to try to be more on top of things! I’m just 5 pounds away from goal and sometimes I feel myself letting up a bit, not planning as well, making bad choices etc. All of this coupled with the holidays, it’s not good!! So, I’m glad I found this blog today and I’m resolving to get back on track!!

    KarenJ

    December 14, 2011

    Non hunger hunger is 100% emotional. When you have small children or under similar types of stressors, for some people food becomes a way to deal. Eating carbs has a calming effect on the brain. You are practicing all the right strategies, but you also have to approach it from the other side too, by taking care of yourself (I know you exercise which is great), but also in other ways. It’s not always easy with small children with so many demands on your time, but with time you will get better at it. My personal trigger was anger. It took a long time for me to realize that, because I didn’t recognize it for what it was.

    Rhiannon

    December 14, 2011

    Well, I’m pretty broke at the moment so I often don’t have much food around. This means that when I experience the non-hunger hunger, it often leads to staring in the fridge and pantry for a minute, finding nothing, giving up and then coming back ten minutes later and repeating. Other times I’ll eat junk :(

    Amen. Non hunger hunger, I find, is usually code for boredom. I’ll heat up some green tea so I have something filling in mah belly without adding a bunch of calories or down a bunch of water but if my calories are spent for the day, they’re spent.

    Lori McHugh

    December 14, 2011

    Tired + bored + lonely = periods of “eating insanity” (I LOVE that expression, “day of the bottomless belly” – sounds like it would makea good name for a horror movie).I have to actually say OUT LOUD, “You are NOT hungry for food. Food is NOT going to make the hunger go away. Find something (sleep, an activity, people) that will fill the hunger.”

    Jodi

    December 14, 2011

    I’m so glad I’m not alone in this. This often happens to me on days when I’m so exhausted (usually Sundays) from a busy week, and I want a “lazy” day. If I sit in front of the TV – or curl up with a book – I automatically want to munch. All day long. Sometimes I succum. It happens – and I usually end up beating myself up for it (working on that).

    If I can manage to pull myself away from the desire to be lazy, and do something productive – you know, keep myself busy and my mind on other things, I’m usually more successful. I guess it’s a battle I’ll fight until I die.

    Tina

    December 14, 2011

    I definately agree with KarenJ that it’s emotional reasons that make us want to eat. I can have “so called” trigger foods around some days and not even remember they are there, but on a stressful day it’s a different story.

    For me what works is just trying to first figure out what I’m feeling, next to try to find a way to work through it. If I don’t know what is going on I try my best to go online, read or stay busy when I know it’s not real hunger. Of course sometimes it just doesn’t work and I give in.

    Hang in there.

    Jessica

    December 14, 2011

    Yes, I have had non-hunger hunger and.it.sucks. I sometimes try to fill the void with carrots or some other healthy snack, but it rarely works. So I usually just find something that will fill the void but not allow me to binge, like a single serving ice cream cup or single serving no-bake cookie. Luckily I dont seem to have this non-hunger hunger very often.

    Ronnie

    December 14, 2011

    Story of my life! You really seem to always hit the nail right on Roni…we really need coping techiniques for times like these which is MOST evenings when I come home from work and STRESS..cooking, cleaning, homework. So NOT in the Christmas spirit :/

    Amber

    December 14, 2011

    I have to say-I know exactly what you’re talking about here! I try and do something satisfying or productive when this happens. I don’t always “win” in this situation, but normally in my case it seems to be brought on by a feeling of being unsatisfied (not just with food, but things in life as well.) I find if I do something productive (cleaning, planning, etc) it tends to help.

    Mindy

    December 14, 2011

    Of course! I often get like this when I am avoiding something, either something I have to do or some feeling I don’t want to face. I usually have to do some digging to try to figure it out, maybe journal a little or talk it out with someone, or myself in my own head. I try to recognize that it’s not physical hunger and then I eat only those things I truly want…if I try to substitue healthy alternatives I end up eating twice as much! LOL

    Rose

    December 14, 2011

    This definitely happens to me. Typically, I’m thirsty. I really don’t have a lot of cash at the moment, which is sort of helpful because I don’t have money for all those snacky foods. Prevents me from splurging from emotional thoughts or non-hunger hunger.

    Barbara

    December 14, 2011

    All I can say is STRESS!
    and sometime I do not realize I am stressing.
    Hang in there and stay away from processed foods.
    That doesn it to me too.

    Agnes

    December 14, 2011

    I experienced this very feeling last night. I had a nice healthy dinner but a couple of hours later I was eating cheese slices and dark chocolate raspberry WW ice cream bars. I knew I wasn’t hunger but I was almost crazy with the notation that I had to eat. I hate when I get like that. It’s frustrating because even when I start to recognize this non-hungry hunger I feel powerless to stop it. I really need to turn off the TV and get my butt off the couch. I think that’s my worst trigger…watching TV in the evening. Usually it’s like 9 or 10 at night and I just feel too tired to do anything else. If it happens again tonight I will borrow a page from your book…I will brush my teeth and put on the pjs…the kitchen is closed!

    Emily

    December 14, 2011

    I often mix up “knot in my stomache” from worry or stress with “hunger in my belly.” Seems like I keep trying to coat the knot in food to make it go away, but it never works for more than about 5 minutes.

    Tami @Nutmeg Notebook

    December 14, 2011

    Yes I have this from time to time! It also happens to me when I have experienced a lack of sleep. The natural response to not enough sleep is that the brain sends a cue to eat carbs! Once I read that in one of the Dr Oz books I was able to recognize that behavior in myself. Too many carbs the day before – yes that does it to me as well. I am an emotional eater so food is my calming drug of choice.

    What do I do when this happens? Sometimes I eat the bad stuff, sometimes I make a huge bowl of light popcorn – no butter and munch away- sometimes I can distract myself and it will pass.

    Paula

    December 14, 2011

    I experience it often. There is hunger, where I will eat anything to satisfy that growling in my stomach that is causing me to get weak. But then there is “craving” which is when I am craving something, which sometimes feels just like strong as real “hunger” but it is for a certain food or taste be it salt or sweet. I am learning to determine the difference between the 2. And only eat (or try to) when it is true hunger, not craving hunger. I hope I am making sense. :=)

    Nicole

    December 15, 2011

    Mine has been happening alot lately but the weather has been gloomy and I have been really lonely. So I have tried going to the gym when my husband it home on lunch and it actually helps me keep from getting to bored and makes me aware of what I’m eating.

    Dee

    December 15, 2011

    I think I know what you mean, but at least in my case, I’ve become pretty convinced that it has to do with nutrients. The more nutrient-dense my eating was, the less I have (what I call) that “snacky” feeling. Also, when I ignore the snacky feeling, it slowly turns to hunger pains, so I always feel that when I keep thinking of food, I actually do need to eat, but it matters WHAT I eat.

    When I’m not strongly hungry, but want to eat, that is the WORST time to eat the silly food- cheese and crackers, popcorn, etc. I should sit and eat something like a salad with kale and green beans, like really serious nutrition. If I still want a craving type food, I can have it AFTER the salad (or smoothie, whatever) but only a true single serving of the craving food. The nutrition-infusion usually kills the snacky feeling though. My rambly 2 cents.

    sue

    December 16, 2011

    Know all about the non hunger hunger pains. Even though I am 72 I live in my daughters 2 flat and even though she’s 47,when she didn’t get home after her office party and didn’t answer her cell phone I began to panic. She has dogs and is always home for them when they need to go out and so I was afraid something had happened. I cried,I paced,I prayed,I didn’t eat the Xmas cookies I had in the kitchen. She got home and was fine and after she went up to her apartment I just broke down and that is when the non hunger hunger set in. I succumbed to my need for consolation but didn’t eat the cookies instead I took a swig of bourbon,ate some carrots and mushrooms dipped in homemade hummus and had a Wasa cracker with 1T parmesan. I guess what I am saying is even though I did use food for consolidation it wasn’t the cookies and I attribute it to me finding this website and reading it every morning. Thanks to you all for your contributions. I lost 80 Lbs on WW old points and have kept it off for almost 9 years. Can’t do any exercise other than stationary bike and walking and am using the WW online program but not the amount of points they say I can have. I still go mainly by the old program but like having the discipline of the on line program and tracking. I also track on a notepad in the kitchen.