Your brain and body are giving you different hunger signals. How you respond to it is important in building healthy habits that lead to a long and healthy life. A lot of times, eating is not the answer.
In this episode, YOU WILL LEARN:
Hello and welcome to Fit and Fabulous with me, Dr Orlena. Welcome to another week of total lockdown. I hope you are doing well wherever you are today.
I want to talk about hunger. We'll explore some ideas surrounding hunger. I hope that I can help you shift the way that you think about hunger.
I see quite a few people who say to me, “I only eat when I'm hungry yet I'm still putting on weight.” "I'm not losing weight." "I'm plateau-ing with my weight."
This idea of eating when you're hungry is really dangerous for many reasons. The biggest reason being it's really easy to say to yourself, "Oh, I'm hungry, I'm going to eat." That's when we allow emotions to slip in. We trick ourselves into thinking that we're hungry when we're not hungry at all.
A much better way of deciding how you're going to eat is to decide in advance. For example, you can decide the day before what you're going to eat the next day. You can decide how much of what you're going to eat the next day.
It's a much safer way because you have removed yourself from any emotion and pretence that you may be hungry or not.
Another thing about hunger is to step back and have a think about how hunger works and its purpose.
If you think about our bodies, clearly our bodies need to have some fuel. Without any food at all, we wouldn't survive. Our body has this system called hunger which drives us to go and get food.
On one level, it's very useful that we have this thing called hunger that makes us go and get food. However, it isn't like oxygen in that we also carry around a reserve of food inside us aka fat. (There are other energy stores in our body as well.)
They say that even thin people have enough food on them for three months. That's a really long time so that we can go for a long period of time without any food. (In an emergency. I'm not suggesting starving yourself for 3 months!)
If you think about when you're hungry, you need that signal, but you need that signal in the long term. You don't actually need that signal right now. It's not that your body is saying "quick! you have to eat something. If you don't eat something right now, I'm going to keel over."
Another way of saying this is what happens if you are hungry and you don't eat anything? The answer is actually not very much.
I don't know if you've ever tried this. I think a lot of people are very scared of hunger and think, "Oh my goodness, I mustn't get hungry". Equally, "I mustn't allow my children to get hungry."
I have a different stand on this. Hunger is actually something that is useful. And that actually is part of life. It's okay to feel a little bit of hunger. I'm not talking about starving yourself. I'm just saying, you're hungry before you eat your meal. It's absolutely fine to have a little bit of hunger.
They say hunger is the best sauce. And it's definitely true. You enjoy your food and we'll eat anything when you're hungry.
One of the things I see with my children is that they like, "Oh, I only want to eat this one particular food that I really love." When you're hungry and you know there's no option, you will just eat the food that is in front of you. As long as it's reasonable food.
Going back to that question, what happens when you feel hungry and you don't eat anything? The answer is this: your body goes, "Oh, so there's no food coming. What am I going to do?" What it actually does is it goes and it starts to break down some of the stores that it has.
We use glucose as one of our main energy supplies. If you don't eat anything, you aren't getting a source of glucose from your mouth. Your body will go and find glucose from within your stores and break it down. Then your blood glucose will be perfectly fine.
One of the things I see right now in society is that we're very used to getting glucose from our food. We confuse this wanting a glucose rush. It's one of those habit drivers along with “Oh my goodness. I really need that carbohydrate craving." "I really need that sugar rush."
Our body thinks that we have to eat because if we don't have that glucose rush, we're going to keel over. That's what our brain is basically telling us. You need to go and find something to eat otherwise, it's going to be lights out for you. And clearly, that's not true.
I would like you to reframe hunger and think, "okay, so what is happening when I'm hungry?" The answer is your body is busy using its internal energy. If you're trying to lose weight, then that is amazing. That's what you want your body to do.
If you haven't heard how I teach weight loss, I teach weight loss with three easy steps.
The first step is to do a two-week reboot.
The idea behind the two-week reboot is to retrain your body and your mind into eating healthy foods.
I've done other podcasts on this. Essentially, you're reducing your refined carbohydrates, you're eating healthy foods.
The idea behind the reboot is that you've trained yourself off this "quick release glucose". Your body gets used to the fact that it can start to look for food. It can get energy from internal sources.
The second step of weight loss is the fat-burning bit.
Really and truly, allow your body to use the energy. Use the fat as energy otherwise you aren't going to lose weight. During this time, at some stage in your 24 hours, you have to be burning fat.
For example, you can look at how often you are eating. The more frequently you're eating, the more frequently you're giving your body glucose. So it doesn't have to use its internal energy sources. The more you eat, the more you are giving your body glucose.
It's about finding a way that works for you.
I'm not in any way suggesting that you need to starve yourself.
One of the reasons we get hungry is because we have a habit.
We wake up in the morning. If you're used to having breakfast then your body is in this habit of feeling hungry. That's when you normally have breakfast. It actually feels hungry because it's breakfast time rather than because you need that energy.
It's just habit and you can train your body in and out of habits.
That's another reason why the two-week reboot is a really good thing to do. You can train your body to not get hungry at breakfast time If you don't want to have breakfast.
These are all things that you can play around with. The bottom line is during that period of time, you have to allow your body to use its own internal energy source.
One of the things is that when you are feeling hungry, that is a sign that you are using your internal energy stores.
Step three is hello, skinny me. I am back to where I want to be. I'm enjoying life.
I know where those limits are. I know that I can eat healthy and delicious foods. I know what I can do and what I can't do that won't affect my weight.
For example, I don't exclude all refined carbohydrates. I eat some cakes, I eat some pasta, I eat some bread. I just don't eat very much of them.
During Christmas, I know that I can eat a little bit more and it's not going to affect my weight. However, I also know that if I were to add in an extra meal every single day, over a period of time, yes, I would put on weight.
It's not magic. I don't have a blanket that protects me from putting weight on. I just know where those limits are. I can enjoy treats here and there without seeing consequences.
I hope that was useful to people who are struggling with this idea of "If I am hungry, it's okay for me to eat." That is a really dangerous place to be and that you need to rethink hunger.
Another thing that I haven't really touched on is the different types of hunger. Emotional hunger, habit hunger, and true hunger.
The bottom line is I don't think it really matters. You need to find a system that works for you and go, okay, “this is the amount of foods that I am going to eat. It will satisfy me to the extent that it gives my body enough energy to keep going. It also gives my body and it also gives my body the opportunity to use fat.”
If you would like to come and join the Facebook group that we have, we do a monthly challenge in the Facebook group. In April, we are doing vegetables extra Virgin olive oil, green vegetables challenge.
It's also a place where you can get a little bit of support from other people and enjoy the community. You can ask questions of me and other people.
So please come and join that group it's Healthy You Healthy Family with Dr Orlena.
If you have any questions or you're feeling stuck, or you just want to chat to me about anything health-related that can be okay. Healthy eating, healthy living. It can also be mindset. So thinking about your emotions and things like that, if you'd like to sign up for one of those I'm offering.
If you would like to just email me ([email protected]) if you're not on my email list. Oh my goodness. Why aren't you on my email list, you can just reply to one of those emails, have a fabulous week and I will see you next week. Goodbye.
Wouldn't it be amazing if you could dial down your cravings for certain foods?
Or increase your like for healthy foods? Wouldn't that make healthy eating so much easier?
Well, you can! In just 30 minutes.
Alea didn't like blueberries until she did the Magic Likes exercise. She was eating them and enjoying them by the end of the call!
Tory stopped eating pretzels after she did the exercise.
Find out more about Dr Orlena's Magic Likes and Dislikes Exercise.
(Psst... if you sign up for the "Overeating quiz" you can get a huge discount!)
Dr Orlena Kerek (MBChB from the University of Bristol, UK) trained as a pediatric doctor. She is now a family health coach. She helps busy mums who want to feel amazing by eating healthy food. So they can enjoy a healthy life, get back into their honeymoon shorts and teach their kids healthy habits. All without thinking about it.
If you want a healthy family and healthy lifestyle without having to think about it. And you'd like help, book a 30-minute "Healthy Life Roadmap" call here.