As women attempt to retrain themselves to respond to physical hunger as the natural way to eat moderately, many tell me that they have difficulty discerning when they’re hungry. This is almost always an indication that they have not allowed themselves to wait long enough to feel the very real, distinct, and discernible physical cues of true hunger. There are many pressures that lead women to eat before they actually feel their physical hunger: the clock telling them it’s time to eat, the family telling them to eat what’s been prepared and is hot now, and most of all the fear telling them that if they wait for their hunger, once they actually feel it, they will overeat and not stop overeating until they are bloated and ill.
This reminds me of Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way that seems right…but in the end it leads to death.” (NIV). Yes, it seems right to not let yourself get physically hungry. It seems as though hunger will trigger excessive eating. The opposite is true, however. Without hunger, you are choosing to eat when your body doesn’t actually need food. Without hunger being the cue for starting to eat, you won’t get any cue for when the hunger has been satisfied and, therefore, you won’t know when to stop eating. Actually it’s starting to eat before the feeling of physical hunger sets in that leads to overeating because there will be no sense of having the hunger satisfied as a signal to stop eating.
Try letting yourself get even just a little bit physically hungry and see if what you eat then tastes better, feels more satisfying, and leads to a sense of “just enough” when that hungry feeling has gone away.