Thursday, March 8, 2012

Physical vs Emotional

Since my bariatric surgery 8 years ago, it was grilled into my brain, "Don't let yourself get hungry.  Eat every 3-4 hours."

This is a very common thought pattern for morbidly obese people, or really anyone losing weight.  If you don't allow yourself to get hungry, you have better control over the amount of food you eat.  For me, when I felt hungry it was always something other than physical hunger.  But it wasn't until recently when I toyed with Intermittent Fasting that I understood that.

I knew I was an emotional eater.  I knew that I'd eat when bored, tired or sad. I would eat to fill holes in what I was feeling, or to cover up/not feel what I was feeling. Even after some therapy and medication to help with the depression, I still emotionally ate.

Think about it. Most happy family functions or friend celebrations revolve around food. So, to my brain, eating brought happy times. Times of love and laughter. Things I was missing in my everyday life.

When I came to Nerd Fitness and started reading about Paleo more in depth. Thinking about intermittent fasting... Not eating every 3-4 hours sounded so foreign to me. What exactly would happen if I let myself get hungry? What would my altered intestinal tract think of it? Could I do it?

The first day I did an IF morning, I felt good. I had black coffee and water from when I woke up at 5:30 until around 1pm. Why did I eat at 1? Was I hungry? I wasn't sure. What I was sure of, was I had a killer headache. I ate a good Paleo meal and felt better. Did I overeat? Not at all. Were the rest of my meals that day normal sized? Yes.

I continued this way for about two weeks. Waiting until afternoon time to eat. Listening to my body, ignoring my mind. By the end of my experiment, I knew what physical hunger, for me, felt like.

What did I learn? Don't be afraid to not eat on a schedule. Don't be afraid to let myself feel real hunger. Emotional eating, is exactly that. Me fueling my emotions by trying to fuel my body. Emotional eating will likely be a struggle for the rest of my life. However now, I know the difference (most of the time) and can work at controlling it with more knowledge.