This is very timely for me. For the last dozen years or so, I have had a difficult time in September. Several significant events and losses have happened in September. The easiest way to deny those feelings of grief is to replace them with something that feels good or, as in my case, something that tastes good. For some reason I drown my grief in anything that tastes good and the higher the calories the better.
As in the opening chapters of the book, I was struck by the thought that there is a difference between hunger and a desire to eat. Now to realize that just because I crave something does not mean I have to eat it. It may seem like a simple concept to some—namely my husband who doesn’t struggle with food as I do—but to me it is like a lightening bolt strikes my heart.
I spent the last few days studying my own responses to “hunger” stimuli. Every hour I would listen to my body and see if I was hungry. When I began to think about food, I stopped and thought about if it was true hunger or desire or a craving. The book describes the physical sensations of each. A desire to eat may be simply that there is a cookie sitting on a plate and you reach out to eat one. You may not be physically hungry, but it is there and it is socially acceptable to eat what is offered. The same desire as having a second serving at a meal, before my body can send the brain the signal that I am full. A craving, which is what I deal with most, is a strong physical response in the mouth throat of body, a yearning for a specific food. That specific food, such as ice cream, is what I want and nothing else will fill the need. True hunger happens when I have not eaten in some time and have an empty sensation with a rumbling stomach. When I am truly hungry, I don’t have one single food that will satisfy, it could be a variety of foods.
For so many years I have been confusing a desire to eat or a craving for actual hunger. How sad that it has taken me so long to learn to listen to my body and discover what it is that it is trying to tell me. Today I have a desire to eat. It doesn’t matter what it is, I just want to get rid of the empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. It is not hunger, it is grief. I can recognize that today. I can understand it. I can move on to something else to help me deal with that grief, something other than food.