Monday, August 4, 2008

Are You Hungry?

What does hunger feel like? And how do you keep it from ruining your day?
First, the feeling of hunger: Do we really know what that is? Are you truly aware of what it feels like to have that grinding tugging feeling in your stomach? Many of us have forgotten what hunger feels like because we’ve got used to reaching for food anytime we’re bored or need a little comfort or we’re celebrating something wonderful. We reach for food so often we never really get a chance to ‘need’ food because we eat whenever we ‘want’ it.

There are some health experts that believe when we think we’re hungry our bodies are often simply in need of water. Drink a glass of water and your urge to eat may actually go away. When calorie counting, you have accepted that you are no longer going to reach for just any food in any amount at any time you want. You have agreed to be in better control of those mindless wants. But that also means, especially at the beginning, that there will be times when you feel actual hunger pains because for the first time in a long time, perhaps ever, you’re denying yourself a little bit. Don’t panic. You’re not starving. We need a reminder of what real hunger feels like. I’m not saying you should make yourself double-over in a quivering blood sugar low. I’m simply saying that by calorie counting, limiting your portions, and limiting the times when you take in those portions, you are allowing your body to need food before you feed it. If we waited until we actually needed food instead of grabbing something just because we’re too bored to do anything else, we wouldn’t be in the shape we’re in now. We are a society of instant gratification. Everywhere we turn, we’re bombarded with TV commercials, billboards, fast food signs, all implying that if we love ourselves, we'll treat ourselves to a mouth-watering this or that because we deserve it. Well, I say just as you discipline a child out of love in order to mold them into a better person, we should discipline ourselves out of love, too. Aren't we worth it?

But how do we keep hunger from ruining our day? Well, here's something you might find interesting. A recent study published in the July issue of the journal Nature Neuroscience suggests that hunger actually makes us feel happy. Apparently when we're hungry a hormone called ghrelin increases, but what scientists now believe is that the hormone may also reduce stress, increases motivation, and may make us more social; at least that's what it did for lab rats. So be a little hungry and be happy.

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