Today’s workout: None…should have gone today, but just didn’t have the energy. I must go both Saturday and Sunday.

Today’s walk: To the Post Office at the end of the street and back, navigating black ice along the way.

Today’s task: Differentiate Between Hunger, Desire, and Cravings

Today’s task ranks with Day 4 in importance and difficulty. And it’s something we all have to work on on an ongoing basis.

Cravings are a huge challenge for me. I’ve woken up at 7 AM on Saturday morning with a craving for buffalo wings so strong that I could feel the vinegar burning the inside of my nostrils before I was even fully awake. (And no,  I don’t keep an open bottle of vinegar in my bedroom.)  If you’ve never woken up on Saturday morning and the first thing you do is look at the clock and count the hours until the buffalo wing restaurants open, then please don’t lecture me about cravings. Just give thanks. OK? OK.

For most of my life, I didn’t understand people who said, “I eat when I’m not hungry…I don’t know why I’m munching on this, I’m not even hungry.” I’ve always thought that I was hungry when I ate, and when I’m not hungry anymore, I stop eating because I no longer enjoy it. If anything, from my own observation, I’m more uncomfortable than most people before I finally allow myself to eat. I say that because I’ve never said, “I don’t know why I’m eating this; I’m not even hungry,” or, “I’m still eating even though I’m full.” I usually say, “I’m really hungry!” Otherwise, I don’t eat.

When I eat, I’m feeling a definite feeling in my stomach that I associate with hunger, and/or my mouth is watering at the very idea of food. That’s got to be a sign that my body is asking for something, right?

Well, my weight shows that it’s not right. I’m consuming too many calories.

A few weeks ago, my therapist blew my mind, in a good way. She said, “What is hunger, anyway?”

I’ve been so protective of my own definition of hunger, that during the past 2 years I practiced the BDS without losing any weight. I need to review this definition.

In the past, I’ve read writers like Geneen Roth, who recommend eating in accordance with hunger cues, but that’s never worked for me. I was hungry and I ate, unlike most of the women who found that they didn’t feel hungry when they were freed to follow their own cues, and ate less.

I thought there was something wrong with me for being hungry…now I’m willing to investigate how I’m interpreting my own hunger. That’s what today’s experiment is about.

I will monitor my hunger before, during, and after every meal. My results will be skewed, because I’m on the South Beach Diet, which gives me a lot of protein, which controls my appetite/hunger. I may have to repeat today’s exercise when I’m faced with a situation like travel, when I can’t get enough protein and my hunger will feel different.

Today’s To-Do List:

✓ I read my Advantages list at least twice today

✓ I made and read other Response Cards as needed

✓ I ate slowly, sitting down, and noticing every bite: All 3 meals. I allowed snacks at the computer.

✓ I gave myself credit when I engaged in helpful eating behaviors: Every time.

✓ I did spontaneous exercise: Once.

✗ I did planned exercise:

✓ I rated my hunger (or planned a day to do so) on a hunger monitoring chart.

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Time How My Stomach Feels Strength of Hunger (0 – 10)
Before Breakfast Slightly empty 3
Midway through breakfast Getting fuller, losing interest in eating 1
Immediately after breakfast Full, but not stuffed 0
20 minutes after breakfast The same as immediately after breakfast 0
Before lunch Hungry, but not too uncomfortable; focus dropping a little. Feeling a desire to have my favorite salad for lunch. 5
Midway through lunch Full, even though I haven’t finished my salad (I usually do). Decided to have a couple more bites of the tuna, since I’m supposed to have the protein on my diet, and stop. 0
Immediately after lunch Definitely full. My waistband feels tight. Glad I didn’t keep eating, but I “miss” my salad now, so I think I’m still desiring it. 0!
20 minutes after lunch Full. I keep getting confusing waves of hunger in the upper part of my stomach, even though I know my stomach is physically full. I will not respond to these passing waves by eating more, however. 0
Before dinner Much hungrier than I was earlier in the day, even though I’ve had 2 meals and 2 snacks. In fact, I’m just as hungry as I was this time yesterday having skipped lunch! When I’m this hungry, I always get something to eat pretty quickly. 7
Midway through dinner My hunger calmed down right away when I started to eat. 3
Immediately after dinner Still hungry, but I don’t think I should eat more. I don’t feel a strong desire to keep eating because I enjoyed my food so much. I’ll wait 20 minutes. 3
20 minutes after dinner Satisfied, but still a little hungry in my stomach. No strong desire to eat more. I think my stomach is physically full, and I’ll eventually feel satisfied. 1

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What I learned: Sometimes my hunger signals don’t make “sense” based on what I’ve been eating. I don’t know if this will change as I get better at noticing my hunger and eating a healthier diet. It definitely means I don’t need to eat every time I get hungry. I need to decide what and when to eat with my brain, not just my intuition.

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Today I give myself credit for:

☆ Getting much better at “only eating while eating.” I’m starting to enjoy the chance to be spend some time alone with my food!

☆ Cooking all 3 of my own meals today and eating them at the table. Cleaning up each time!

☆ Trying a new, healthy recipe!

☆ Getting out and walking when my mind started to wander from work.

☆ Resisting a craving for wine.

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