Monday, May 19, 2008

Hunger

Several months ago, I started a meal process group, where (out)patients (and I) have lunch together, process feelings about the meal, and then usually engage in some exercise about eating/body image. I figured I'd post some of the thought questions here, so that you might think about these topics and hopefully dialogue with one another.

Recently, I asked the group some questions about hunger:

1) How hungry are you right now? (I personally use Dr. Paul McKenna's Hunger Scale).



2) How do you know when you're hungry?

3) How would you describe the feeling of hunger to an alien, who had never experienced this before? (this one's from Karen Koenig)

4) What type of emotions do you usually feel when you experience the physiological sensation of hunger?

5) What, besides food, do you hunger for?

17 comments:

A said...

I have no idea what compels me to respond to this posting - my experiences are so unusual that they will probably be useless to you.

That said, compels is the key word, so here I go:

1) How hungry are you right now? (I personally use Dr. Paul McKenna's Hunger Scale).

7 - full.

2) How do you know when you're hungry?

I don't. Maybe I get hungry and just don't know it, or maybe my sense of hunger went the way of my sense of balance.

3) How would you describe the feeling of hunger to an alien, who had never experienced this before? (this one's from Karen Koenig)

I'm not sure. I am keen to hear other responses on this.

4) What type of emotions do you usually feel when you experience the physiological sensation of hunger?

"Normally" (for the first 20 years of my life) nothing. Nowadays, I'm pleased and surprised, because it means that maybe I'm making an exit from the weird land of gastroparesis. I felt hungry, briefly, this morning. I don't remember it clearly; I was tired. I remember some physical stomach pain though.

5) What, besides food, do you hunger for?

Many things, in the metaphorical sense - freedom is probably chief among these.

In the literal physiological sense, nothing as far as I know.

professional daydreamer said...

1) 4 - slightly hungry. i just woke up and had a "breakfast" of eggless oatmeal lace cookie dough. (basically, oatmeal, sugar, and margarine, with a dash of vanilla and salt.)

2) i often don't notice until i feel weak, dizzy, or headachey. sometimes i'll notice a sense of abdominal discomfort or a growling stomach. i tend to get very weepy, helpless, hopeless, and irritable between levels 2 and 1, which often tips off my boyfriend that i need to eat something and it is not the time to ask me to make decisions on the subject.

3) probably the empty-growly stomach thing.

4) if i've been focused on my weight, then anger at my body for being weak, some degree of defeatedness, and determination to put off food as long as possible. if i haven't been, then i'm pleased if i have palatable food ready to hand, or overwhelmed if i don't. finding or preparing food is really difficult for me unless i'm already quite full.

5) closeness to someone i trust. physical contact. sex. safety from a world of people who seem to delight in being douchebags to me just because they can.

Anonymous said...

1. Neutral or pleasantly satisfied. Not sure yet as I just finished my lunch and am waiting to see if it was enough :)

2. If it's a light hunger I get a growling sensation in my stomach as well as general light headeness. Since I have severe hypoglycemia, I also get foggy and fatigued very quickly especially if I ignored the earlier hunger signs.

3. a faint sratching and growling feeling that starts faintly in my stomach but builds up into my chest and head if I ignore it long enough. Usually it comes and goes, getting stronger and stronger leading to fatigue and in some cases slightly blurred vision.

4. Depends on where I am. If I have a lunch packed I start craving the foods I packed. If I'm out and about I get anxious as I'm not sure I will be able to find something that I can eat (severe food allegries). Normally I can calm myself down and figure out what I am craving and usually I can get it though sometimes I have to ignore the hunger pangs for a bit.

5. When I'm stressed, I long for my warm bed and hot showers where I just sit in the shower and let it beat against my back. Like Pro. Dreamer, I sometimes crave "safe" physical contact though usually I crave independent time and will hole up until I feel better. Basically I crave warmth and space to move on my own terms.

Anonymous said...

I also felt compelled to answer this... I think it's because I'm trying to steady myself against falling into places I don't want to go.

1) How hungry are you right now? (I personally use Dr. Paul McKenna's Hunger Scale).

I would say 5. Honestly, it's probably a "normal person's" 3, but "fairly hungry" to me means that I have a desire to eat something as well. If someone were to ask me now if I was hungry, I would reply "no".

I also recall nausea being more of a hungry-feeling than a not-hungry-feeling.

2) How do you know when you're hungry?

I'm not sure that I do. Like I said, I'm perfectly fine having the "classical signs of hunger", and realizing that I'm not all that hungry or don't feel like eating.

I'm known for not eating if I don't know what I want to eat or if I am working on something, so I figure my definition of hunger is probably different from most people's.

I guess it's like there are two scales, the PMHS, and then the "what do I want to do about it, when do I want to do it, and why?".

My family likes to say I get irritable when I am hungry. They don't seem to like taking responsibility for irritating me.

3) How would you describe the feeling of hunger to an alien, who had never experienced this before? (this one's from Karen Koenig)

Well, assuming that the alien knows what energy is, and how it obtains it, I would ask it "what happens to you when you don't have proper energy? That is what hunger feels like." In the event that it runs on perpetual motion or something... I don't know.

4) What type of emotions do you usually feel when you experience the physiological sensation of hunger?

Annoyance. Ever since I was little, hunger and sleep bothered me. Think of all the things that could be done if you didn't have to stop to sleep/eat!

There's also annoyance at being a bother. I'd hate to impose on someone because I am picky and "can't" eat anything in their house. Someone's parents take me out to eat, and I like this, but soup/gravy/pasta/noodles/uranium... and I don't want to bother the staff by asking for 15 replacements...

Then there's the annoyance/anger of people paying attention to what I eat. I eat too much. I don't eat enough. Someone wishes they could eat "as healthily" or whatever as I do. Can I eat as I see fit for the moment without it being everyone's business?

Then sometimes I go to eat after being harassed about not eating or so, the food that I had decided would be oh-so-awesome right at that moment has been eaten. Great. Now I have nothing to eat. Thanks. Then, I can't have the bread, it's glue. Can't have this, it's bad. Can't have that... "Once on the lips..." ok, stop scrutinizing everything I pick up, I'll just go back to not eating. Thanks. This leads into the pride of "ha! You can't kvetch at me for eating, BECAUSE I'M NOT! I WIN!" So then they kvetch that they haven't seen me eat...

5) What, besides food, do you hunger for?

Perhaps self-improvement, I could use a bit more self-esteem/confidence.

Anonymous said...

i have a quick question about your book...if every woman has an eating disorder, than how is it an illness? isn't that like saying if everyone breathes air, then breathing air is an illness?

i-geek said...

1) How hungry are you right now? (I personally use Dr. Paul McKenna's Hunger Scale).

Closer to 4 (slightly hungry) but moving closer to 3 (fairly hungry). I should probably do something about it before it escalates to a 1.

2) How do you know when you're hungry?

If I haven't eaten too many high-sugar foods without other stuff to balance, then the empty rumbling in my stomach is the best indicator. If I've eaten too many sugary foods alone, the rumbling is often accompanied by dizziness, the shakes, mild nausea and disorientation, and sometimes a cold sweat.

3) How would you describe the feeling of hunger to an alien, who had never experienced this before? (this one's from Karen Koenig)

If I'm hungry, it feels like little animals are gnawing at my insides and all food seems about 10x more appealing.

4) What type of emotions do you usually feel when you experience the physiological sensation of hunger?

When ravenous or in sugar crash: MUST EAT NOW, very few emotions involved unless there is no food, then I panic a bit. If just normally hungry, I start considering my options. If options are limited and what I want isn't available, it's mildly disappointing but not a big deal. If what I want is readily available, I'm generally quite happy about that.

5) What, besides food, do you hunger for?
Sometimes sex, often sleep or a quiet, solitary place.

Fauve said...

I love hunger. Why? Well - there's a saying that goes: "hunger is the best sauce" (for any food). Meaning, if you eat a meal when you are hungry, it will taste even Better than it normally would, because your sense of hunger increases your sensory enjoyment of the meal. Of course, I'm not talking famished-hungry, just regular hungry. When I get famished, I inhale food and feel like I can never get full. I overeat almost beyond my control. Yet, having some degree of hunger prior to eating is very pleasant to experience, as is the enjoyable, slightly full feeling of satiety after eating. (I do work on not getting stuffed, just feeling good after a meal). I love food and I love hunger, as my cue to eat. It's like smelling lilacs: a very enjoyable experience of this world!

WifeMomChocoholic said...

1. Right now I'm really hungry -- between 2 and 3

2. I know I'm hungry when my stomach kind of hurts. It feels like it's tied in a knot. As I get hungrier, I also find it harder to concentrate on anything but thoughts of eating, I get grouchy, and somtimes get a headache. Occasionally I feel nauseated.

3. Describe the feeling of hunger to an alien....a feeling of emptiness, a gnawing, a desperate longing for food.

4. The emotions I feel depend. Sometimes I feel annoyance if I feel as though I "shouldn't" be hungry yet. Sometimes I feel a kind of desperation if there's no food around that appeals to me or I won't be able to eat for a while. Sometimes I feel happy because I know a yummy meal is coming.

5. Besides food, I hunger for love, affection, solitude, free time, a fulfiling job...some of which I already have.

Alyssa said...

1) I would say between a three and a four. My ed does not want me to think I am too hungry because then that means I want (or in some cases need) to eat more. This is something I have been struggling with a lot lately. For example, I usually don't have a fruit at lunch, only if I am really hungry and need something more. Lately I have been having some bowel issues (sorry to be graphic) and other issues, so I have been feeling hungrier. I wait until after lunch to see if I feel hungry enough for a fruit. Most of the time my ed tells me that I can "survive" without the extra fruit and then I don't have it, even though I know I probably need it.
2)I know when I am hungry when my stomach has that empty feeling and I have a pain in my stomach. Plus some of it is knowing how much I have eaten, what time it is, and from that I can generally tell if I am hungry (or should be) because my ed is trying to tell me otherwise sometimes.
3)Hunger is a feeling that makes you crave food. You are crabby and irritable if you do not eat, which will also cause you to feel physically weak and tired. Your stomach aches, but not the kind of ache that makes you sick to your stomach.
4)If I am hungry when it is time for a meal (meaning if it is around the time my ed thinks is a good time for a meal, which are normal times, I just tend to stick to them rigidly) then I eat what I usually eat for that meal. I always have the same number of grains, fats, etc. at each meal. I only have one snack in the late afternoon, so if I am hungry between meals (which I almost always am) I either have some diet coke (yes, it is partly a decision by ed to drink diet pop when I am hungry and ed does not want me to eat something) or have a strawberry or veggie odds or ends in the fridge, something healthy. Rarely if I am hungry after lunch I'll have an extra fruit, but this is extremely hard for me to do.
5)Right now I am hungry for love, and I don't mean love from my family/relatives/neighbors/etc. This will probably sound lame and stupid, but I am hungry for a relationship with a guy, man do I sound desperate! I know there is nothing wrong with me (I talk to guys all the time and am very outgoing, good personality, etc.), but I am so ready for that kind of a relationship. Ed ate up a lot of my time and energy during high school and a part of college and I was just not in a state to handle any kind of a relationship. I am a completely different person now and am really needing that kind of loving relationship. There have been plenty of guys I have liked/etc., but it is hard when they already have someone and it is hard to move beyond cordial friendship and trying to figure out if they are into you the same way. Wow, this is way off topic, but it is something I have been hungry for for a long time now. There are plenty of ed related things I am also hungry for, such as freedom from depression and restrictiveness.

Artemis said...

I'm not sure I like that scale, I don't like 10. I was confused at first glance at it thinking that both ends of the scale represented being very hungry, because I get extremely naseous when very hungry. Of course the same can happen if eating to much. It seems wrong to use naseous as a measurement of hunger at the full end.

If you would be interested in my responces:

1. I'd say 5, neutral

2. When my stomach starts to hurt, I feel weak and shaky, and nauseous.

3. Probably just like I did above.

4. Pride, if that counts as an emotion. Happy.
I still associate feeling hungry with... being good. That it's good to feel very hungry and resist the urge to eat. That I do have self-control! (being overweight all my life, I've always been told over and over and over that I simply lack the self-control to lose weight)

5. Nothing in terms of the physical feeling of hunger. Otherwise... love I suppose.

maddyface said...

I have just started the Paul McKenna 'diet' and that scale is causing me problems - i keep changing my mind as to how hungry I am every 10 minutes! I keep having to distinguish between 'hungry' and 'could MANAGE food'. Interesting idea about all women having eating disorders!

Sara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I completely agree with your theory that all women have eating disorders.

1. How hungry are you right now?
Fairly hungry

2. How do you know when you are hungry?
I usually feel sick. I associate hunger with the flu because for me it's the same feeling, like I'm going to vomit....so I try not to let myself get hungry. If I have no other choice I will battle through the sick feelings and then the hunger will go away but only after more than an hour of feeling this way.

3. How would you describe the feeling of hunger to an alien, who had never experienced this before?
As the feeling of being physically ill. Very unpleasant.

4. What type of emotions do you usually feel when you experience the physiological sensation of hunger?
I am hungry right now, to the point of feeling sick I am shaky, I can't concentrate, all I can think of is leaving my office to get something to eat so I dont feel so sick.

5. What type of emotions do you usually feel when you experience the physiological sensation of hunger?
Anxiety, like I'm going to cry, irritable, sick, cranky. I would think almost like drug withdrawal.

6. What, besides food, do you hunger for?
Sleep, peace, rest.

Anonymous said...

1. Ravenous / borderline dizzy
2. Hunger pangs, empty stomach feeling
3. when your stomach is empty and your brain cannot process things as fast / logically due to physical discomfort; strong desire for food
4. uneasiness, grumpiness/crankiness, anger
5. something to chew on, candy

Hannah said...

1) 5--neutral. But that's most likely because I'm currently dealing with an ED of my own (anorexia) and my body's not good at listening to my brain's hunger signals.
2) Growling stomach, faintness, headache, inability to focus. Pre-ED, I could actually feel the sensation of hunger in my stomach, but now I rely on those other cues for the same reason as 1.
3)How do you feel when your body runs out of fuel? Closest I can come.
4)Sadly, pleased. It makes the ED part of my brain feel strong and in control and successful. There's a kind of hollow feeling in my stomach that I associate with ED that I can best describe as addicting.
5) Love. Physical contact and comfort. Self-acceptance.

Mog said...

1) How hungry are you right now?

Neutral


2) How do you know when you're hungry?

Tummy growls/cramps feels empty, increased desire for food, brain fogs out a bit.

3) How would you describe the feeling of hunger to an alien, who had never experienced this before?

An ache in your stomach that is relieved by increasing the stomach contents.

4) What type of emotions do you usually feel when you experience the physiological sensation of hunger?

Emotions?? None I think, it is just information - hungry, should grab some food. If I am hungry and unable to get anything to eat for a while I do start to get anxious, not about the food specifically but generally increased anxiety in my response to other things.

5) What, besides food, do you hunger for?

Generally? Entertainment, stimulation, financial security.

My personal history which may be relevant... I have recovered from several eating disorders (anorexia in my teens, then bulimia and most recently compulsive overeating)through the use of NLP and hypnosis and I am in a REALLY freaking good place with my relationships with food and my body.

peanutbuttercupsforbreakfast said...

I think this is great! I've been running a support group for people who struggle with food, weight, and their bodies in nyc for a few weeks now, and one of our most effective sessions was a mindful eating exercise where we really paid attention to our food and our hunger.