Eat when you're hungry

I was talking to a friend the other day about Geneen Roth's book "Women, Food and God." I had read the book and had even outlined a couple of lines that really spoke to me, but as of yet, nothing had really sunk in. Then my friend explained to me that what really worked for her is this understanding of only eating when you're hungry. "Only eating when you're hungry." Seems intuitive. Seems silly to eat when you're not hungry, and yet, eating when I'm not hungry is something I do often, daily, sometimes even hourly.

I eat when I'm bored. I eat when I'm stressed. I eat when I'm worried. I eat when I'm happy. I eat to celebrate. I eat to mourn. I eat because it's there, I eat because it's spoiling, I eat just because. I rarely, however, eat when I'm hungry.

And these feelings of worry and stress and boredom and concern aren't alleviated when I eat, the eating is really just a distraction from what it is I'm feeling. So maybe instead of trying to cover it all up with food, I should do as my friend said she does now: just sit. Just sit with my feelings, sit with the discomfort, acknowledge these feelings and write about them or cry about them. But what I do not have to do is cover them up with platitudes, with forced positive thoughts, with food.

So this notion of only eating when hungry is not just biologically sound, it's psychologically sound for me as well. Getting in touch with my hunger. Eating when I'm hungry. Checking in with myself and stopping when I'm not hungry any more. STOPPING WHEN I'M NOT HUNGRY ANY MORE. Really? Can it be that easy? Can I even DO it? Can I even stop?

Well, what I can do is try. I can try to connect with myself and my food and those I'm eating with on a really true level. A level that reminds me to eat because my body needs to eat. A level that says stop when I've had enough. Just enough. Not until I can't eat another bite. Not until I am stuffed. Until I have had enough. That means being present. That means sitting with myself and sitting with my meal and listening and being quiet and being ok with just enough.

Because staying in touch with my food and staying in touch with my body is really what the struggle is for me. To accept where I am today. To accept what I have in front of me. To accept that I can eat but I don't have to eat just because there is food. To accept that there will be food tomorrow and there will be time tomorrow and there will be enough tomorrow and I don't need to do it all or eat it all or consume it all today. Instead I can stay grounded in the moment for this bite and for the next and maybe all of these moments will mean that this year I can eat when I'm hungry and stop when I've had enough, and let it all be ok for now, for today, for this meal.

After all, this is the life.



  1. Allison we are on the same page. Now if only my hand and mind begin to work in conjunction, because every time I pass those white chocolate covered pretzels, hungry or not, my hand just reaches out and plops one into my mouth.

  2. Hi Alison,

    You have my sympathy. It is so easy to say eat only when hungry and stop when you have had enough. I have known this for years and years, but so far I have not completely mastered the art. I have also known about sitting with you feelings and breathing into your feelings. To some extent I am far better than I was a few years ago. In fact I thought that I had completely mastered it because I was no long binge eating. But ... I have noticed that when I am upset I am not listening to my body regarding food. I try to do this at the start of a meal, but something takes over and as soon as I allow myself to eat I find myself wanting to eat more. No, I am not hungry. I know what is making me feel sad, upset or whatever and I try to rationalise it. But ... something within me seems to need the comfort of food. Maybe, I need the serotonin to calm my nerves. All I know is that if I could only master eating only when hungry and stopping when had sufficient, my body would normalise itself at the weight which is best for it. I have used all kinds of diets, all of them are really low calorie no matter what they say about them. I have found that I cannot even seem to lose weight on 1200-1400 calories these days. Maybe I have abused my body too much over the years with diets and it holds onto whatever fat it has. I know people who just don't eat much when they are upset. Others just eat and eat. Mine is just moderate eating, but it is enough to not let me get slim. My mother never ate when she was upset and she was always thin. She never had to diet and only ate whatever she wanted. Goodness knows, she had enough stress in her life right from losing both her parents when she was very young, but it never pushed her to eat when she was under stress. I have reached a stage where I am totally fed up with dieting and won't ever diet again. I am allowing myself to eat what I want, but I still haven't mastered the art of only eating what my body needs. Just as I am getting nicely settled into loving and accepting my body as it is, and listening to it and what it wants, along comes a stress of some sort. Might just be someone saying something unkind and my need for something soothing to eat is there at the ready. Maybe, we are just too sensitive. Maybe, we care too much about others and their feelings. Maybe, we don't care enough about our own feelings and ourselves. The solution to the weight problem is simple, doing it is hard.
    Good luck Alison.

  3. I've been trying to eat only when I'm hungry for a long time and still can't do it. My problem with food is weighing me down and I am starting to feel depressed. I hope you can learn the behavior of only eating when hungry. Please pray that I will too. Thanks, Vanessa


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