By Michele Herenstein
I feel the need to eat constantly. No, I don’t pig out and I don’t have bulimia, nor am I a glutton and eat everything in my apartment. But I could. Therein lies the danger.
Most of my readers know I had anorexia. I thought I was recovered, but then some parts of it show up. I think about food a lot.
I eat normally now, but I often want more food than is in front of me. My body is used to being starved, so if I eat too little, my body feels threatened and holds in the food, which causes bloating, and I actually gain weight. My body wants to be fed.
“Hunger and appetite are two very different things. Hunger is the physical need for food whereas appetite is the desire for food. Hunger occurs with low levels of glucose in your blood, several hours after eating—it is a protective mechanism that ensures your body is adequately fueled. Appetite is the conditioned response to food—it is a sensory reaction to the look or smell of food. It is appetite that can lead ‘your eyes to be bigger than your stomach’ (“Hunger vs. Appetite: What’s the Difference” by Dr. Libby Weaver, thehealthcaresurvivor.com).
My friend tells me that she only eats when she is hungry. I admit that I am jealous of this. I eat when I’m hungry, but I also eat because I crave food. I dislike this part about myself, but it’s a part of anorexia that I’m still working on. And I know it’s not my fault. It’s never the fault of an anorexic.
I read online how to suppress hunger without food.
1. Exercise when hungry. Research shows that exercise can reduce your appetite.
2. Sleep for 7–8 hours every night. Lack of quality sleep can make you eat more.
3. Remove all the foods you crave from your home.
4. Drink water throughout the day. Water can make you not feel hungry and also help you eat less.
Maybe it would help me eat less and eat when I’m hungry, not eat 24/7 for no reason at all. These are also excellent for a normal diet, healthy but workable.
I actually get sad when finishing a food I love. I don’t know how to satisfy my cravings. This is a work in progress.
“By using appetite suppressants, you may be missing the message that your body is sending to you. There is a reason behind why you have an increased appetite. This reason might be nutritional, biochemical, or emotional, but it is important to recognize your body’s signal for help and to solve the underlying issues” (Dr. Libby Weaver, “Hunger vs. Appetite: What’s the Difference”).
MedBroadcast discusses the differences between hunger and appetite.
“Appetite itself is a good thing. Having a healthy appetite means that you will likely get the nutrients you need. But it can be easy for a person to let their appetite take over their better judgment, leading to overeating and obesity. Remind yourself of the difference between appetite and hunger — it can help you keep a more balanced attitude toward food and eating.
Some people are able to control their desire for eating. They’re not eating out of a necessity for food, just a desire, for several reasons, to have food in their mouths. I always put more food on my plate than needed, worried that I’ll still be hungry after my first portion.
Psychology Today says:
“Some time ago, I wrote about the distinction between desire and craving. We all desire things. Sometimes we crave them too.
“The difference between desire and craving is subtle, but true. Desire is an expression of longing. Craving is an expression of neediness.”
“The debate of hunger versus appetite can be used in many zones. A baby doesn’t always need his bottle, but often tries to latch on to the mother’s breast out of desire. Out of craving.”
“After breakfast each day, I eat a few chocolates. It’s my treat. It’s not a need, or a serious hunger. It’s a craving, and without it I feel bad.”
“When it comes to food, I can get very confused. Am I hungry? Starved? In the mood for pizza? “In the mood” is a phrase equal to craving.”
“The difference between desire and craving is subtle, but true. Desire is an expression of longing. Craving is an expression of neediness.
“When you’re in the midst of a food craving cycle, the idea of creating a healthy eating plan seems more like someone taking away your emotional blankie than a good idea. “What about my ice cream, potato chips, pasta, chocolate …?” (Marsha Hudnall, MS)
So you can emotionally eat (eat because you crave) and you can physically eat (eat because your body needs food). Hopefully as I progress, I will learn to eat mindfully.
Concentrate, eat slowly so you’ll know when you’re full, and be mindful of when and how much you eat. I keep a food log which helps me. You can do the same.
Hopefully you’ll learn appetite versus hunger. Desire, craving, yearning, wanting, longing… need, essential, necessity ….
Michele Herenstein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.