Banish Your Hunger

17 10 2011

“I was hungry when I woke up. I was very hungry before I went to bed. And I was even hungry not long after a big meal. Thankfully, I was not obese. I was younger then and I liked to exercise. But I did carry about 20 pounds too many. And I had a round face and a soft belly. I was eating and drinking a full menu of high-density carbohydrates back then. Pizza, cereal, bagels, sandwiches, chips and soda were all on the list. I consumed plenty of calories. Yet, I was still hungry. And not only was I frequently hungry, but my mood and energy levels would swing wildly. I would become irritable… sometimes depressed. And I always felt like I needed a nap about two in the afternoon. But there was one thing that always seemed to boost my mood and energy – more carbs!”

Does this sound familiar? This is a statement from one of our patients.

I quickly learned that high-glycemic carbohydrates are foreign to our metabolism. Especially when we consume them in large quantities – as we have since the dawn of the food processing revolution. This is a drastic departure from the diet on which we evolved.

This patient  didn’t go on a “diet” or start counting calories. They didn’t buy meals from Weight Watchers. And they didn’t join the Atkins revolution, with all of their artificial sweeteners and fake, processed foods.

After consulting with me they  just decided to start eating real, organic, whole foods. They ate lots of leafy green salads and a variety of colorful vegetables. They made my own vegetable juices. They snacked on fruit, nuts and seeds. They ate eggs (The whole egg, of course. You don’t think our ancestors would have thrown the yolk away, do you?). Grass-fed beef, pastured poultry, raw cheese and dairy. And lots of wild salmon.

Their hunger and cravings simply vanished (along with the spare tire around their belly)…

Within about two weeks, their cravings for food were almost completely gone. They reported having energy that lasted all day. They didn’t need a nap in the afternoons. Their moods were stable and upbeat. Their mind was sharper and more alert.

And their excess body fat simply melted away. Within about eight weeks, they lost more than 20 pounds. They reached my ideal weight and have remained within three or four pounds of that target ever since. Their experience taught me first hand that hunger is about a lot more than just an empty stomach.

There are two types of hunger…

  • Physical hunger builds slowly and occurs several hours after a meal. This is how you feel after exercise or a long period of work, when you have depleted your energy stores. You feel discomfort. Your stomach growls. You might feel tired and your brain doesn’t work as it should. This is your physiological need for nutrients and energy. Food provides relief from this feeling almost instantly.
  • Hormonal hunger comes on suddenly. It often has nothing to do with mealtime. In fact, hormonal hunger can strike right after you have had a meal. Have you ever wondered where that “extra room” for dessert comes from? Hormonal hunger can cause strong emotional cravings for specific foods – especially carbohydrates. It can also cause mood swings and low energy. And it creates a near continual desire to eat.

I don’t take credit for the term, “hormonal hunger.” Fitness and nutrition author, Rob Faigin, coined it in his superb book, Natural Hormonal Enhancement. He points out that hormonal hunger has nothing to do with a real need for food. It is the result of the interplay of various hormones in the body.

To avoid physical hunger, eat before you become hungry. To avoid hormonal hunger, you have to know what to eat.

Foods that are high on the glycemic index (60 and above) are those that convert to blood sugar very rapidly. That’s what you want to avoid. When your blood sugar spikes, the hormone insulin spikes too. This can provide a burst of energy, but it is fleeting and followed by a crash.
The whole process puts us on a hormonal roller coaster that causes us to become hungry and consume food, even when our body does not physically need it.

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