I put my dieting to rest a long time ago. I eat when I’m hungry, and I try to stop when I’m full. Sometimes, I overeat, and I rarely feel guilty about it. I genuinely enjoy food, whether that’s a bagel, brownie, salad or apple.
A few nights ago, however, as I was falling asleep, I felt the pangs of hunger, and I — without hesitation — smiled and thought “oh, good.”
And right after that, I thought, “Oh, no!”
I had officially experienced the high of hunger, that giddy yipee-feeling you get when you’ve disobeyed your body and decided not to eat, even though you’re hungry.
Margarita Tartakovsky is an associate editor at PsychCentral.com, an award-winning mental health website, and the voice behind Weightless, a blog that helps women deal with body image issues and disordered eating. She also writes a monthly feature for Beliefnet.com, covering topics such as patience and procrastination.
Editor: Nadeem Noor
I had experienced my fair share of these moments in college when I played with the Weight Watchers points. I could hear and feel my body talking to me, begging for some food, but I was too scared to eat — and too determined to keep up with the diet. It wasn’t always a cry for food. Sometimes it was a whimper. But, nonetheless, it felt good to say no.
The hunger high is similar to the high we get when starting a diet. It’s the prospect of finally being thinner, happier, more attractive and sexier that makes us feel tipsy. Like having a glass or two of wine on an empty stomach, and being extra giggly. The ideas of a better life are intoxicating (the fact that you’re hungry certainly also contributes to the dizzying feelings).
Those few nights ago, my hunger high was brought on by a whimper. In reality, it was super-late, and I did have a snack earlier, but still, I felt the hunger high. And, for that split second, I was excited.
But the hunger high is fleeting and deceptive. After the early excitement wears off, you just end up feeling weary, exhausted and miserable. Trying to function on an empty stomach is hard and it’s pointless. Being hungry didn’t make me any thinner, happier or, not surprisingly, any healthier. My body compensated in other ways.
Not eating when I was hungry because I’d had my share of points for the day or because I was trying to become a diet super-star only hurt my body and my mind.
After a while, you feel like you don’t have permission to eat, and then, when you can’t stand the starvation any more, it becomes the slippery slope to stuffing yourself with food. You’re so hungry and your body is so happy at the idea of eating — and not knowing the next time you will — that you can’t stop yourself.
It isn’t your willpower that’s waning; it’s your body clinging to survival mode.
Even if you feel the high temporarily, that doesn’t mean you’ve regressed back to your dieting-stickler self. Take it in, learn from it and remember the false promises and miserable days that the hunger high brings. And get yourself something to eat.
How you have experienced the hunger high?