WHEN HUNGER STRIKES – Dealing with that hungry feeling

One of the challenges in our journey to triumph over obesity is dealing with the physical sensation of hunger. True physical hunger is regulated by an area of the brain called the hypothalamus. This small region at the base of the brain contains our hunger and satiety centers among other things. A complicated physiological process takes place that dictates to us whether we will feel hungry or full. Our task is to manage those feelings and adopt a food plan that will allow us to ingest fewer calories than we expend, producing weight loss.

The problem is that WE DO NOT LIKE TO FEEL HUNGRY! We are a generation of consumers and instant-gratification seekers. We do not want to be without for too long and we know where to go to quickly satisfy our yearnings. We ask ourselves, “ Why didn’t anyone tell us that we would have to suffer hunger pangs on the road to becoming “right-weighted”?

It may be time in our journey to consider this issue of hunger. First, we will need to accept it as a reality of our struggle. If we eat until all hunger goes away, we will be consuming too many calories to lose weight. Portion control is everything in weight-loss and it will be sabotaged if we are unable to tolerate the physical sensation of hunger.

Second, we need to tell ourselves the truth about our hunger. It is not deprivation, it will not kill us, and indeed the feelings will subside if we are patient.

Third, hunger can be our teacher if we let it. It will tell us about our bodies, that we are not consuming too many calories. It will teach us that “we can too hard things”, that we are not soft and fluffy, but can overcome and endure unpleasant things.

Fourth, the Bible teaches that we are blessed when we hunger and thirst, for we will be satisfied (Matthew 5:6). Although the context is spiritual hunger, I am wondering if the same promises hold true for us. What would happen if we brought our feelings of physical hunger to God and asked Him to satisfy us?

Finally, in our hunger, we can identify with those throughout the world who experience chronic hunger as a way of life. We also can feel the feelings of Jesus on the Cross, who was unable to satisfy His hunger and thirst. We become humbled and grateful for all that we have. Isn’t that why fasting is such a powerful spiritual discipline? We can contemplate and reflect and let God speak His thoughts to us as we quiet ourselves.

May we resolve at the beginning of this New Year to alter our perception of the sensation of hunger and fully embrace it as a part of our journey!

This article is by Jennifer Cecil, M.Ed., LPC