How Ignoring Your Hunger Leads to Binge Eating

One of my students recently came to me and said: “Natalie, I‘m so busy all day that I rarely eat in the daytime Between my job, the kids, my partner, I just don’t have time to think about food. 

By the time I get home, I’m so ravenous that I eat a snack or two, dinner with a second helping, another snack or two after the kids are in bed, and next thing I know, my stomach’s killing me! 

What do I do to stop this out of control eating every night?”

The answer is to practice the hunger/satisfaction/fullness tool from the Intuitive Eating toolbox THROUGHOUT the day. 

The goal of this tool is to use your body sensations as a support for knowing when, what and how much to eat.  Relearning how to honor these sensations is an important aspect of creating Food Freedom.  

Your hunger is your body telling you that you need more energy.  Diets taught us to ignore this sensation and to push through without eating.  Research shows that when people push away hunger and end up ravenous they are biologically more likely to binge eat.  

It’s ok to be hungry. It’s ok to honor your hunger with food. This isn’t you being weak.  It is you honoring your body. 

Aren’t satisfaction and fullness the same?

Not exactly. Satisfaction is how much you are enjoying the food, from the first bite to the last.  Focus on slowing down and concentrating only on your food. Really allow yourself to taste the spiciness or sweetness, to feel the crunch or the smoothness of your meal. Allow yourself to really enjoy the experience! If you aren’t satisfied by what you are eating now, you will seek it out in a treat later. 

Fullness, on the other hand, is a sensation that grows over the course of eating.  The general guideline of honoring your fullness is that you choose to stop eating when you are comfortably full.  For sure, it is TOTALLY FINE if you eat past fullness. No judgment here. AND Fullness is your body telling you it has received enough energy for now. 

If you have been on dieting yo-yo for a long time, you may not feel these sensations.  When we restrict ourselves or binge a lot, our bodies’ sensations change. But it is possible to get these sensations back. 

When we honor our Hunger, Satisfaction and Fullness, we are using our bodies to inform us about when, what and how much to eat.  This is a profound transformation away from meal plans, calorie counts, and eating schedules.