The other day, I was out for lunch with Kelly.
By the time we got to the restaurant, it was about 1:00pm and I hadn’t eaten all day. Our kitchen was taped off with plastic wrap while the painters repaired and replaced the water damaged ceiling from frozen pipes.
Needless to say while we sat waiting for our food, I was starving and getting grumpy. While I fiddled with my silverware and kept glancing over at the kitchen, Kelly redirected my attention.
“Mom, don’t you just love being hungry?” She said smiling and appreciating the atmosphere in the restaurant, commenting on the pictures on the wall, the exposed rose colored brick, and the expansive windows with a view of the bustling town square.
Even though she too hadn’t eaten all day, Kelly was fully in the present moment and able to find the bright side of the situation.
Pausing to think about it, I realized that yes I do like the feeling of being hungry.
Still, I wasn’t sure why she asked me that question since she knew I was frustrated with how long it was taking to be served our food.
So I replied, “Yes I do. But I’m curious why do you say that?”
She smiled wider with genuine contentment. “Because it reminds us that we are alive!” Her eyes sparkled with an ethereal essence.
Suddenly, I forgot all about the food I was so desperately waiting to be served.
The timing of the conversation was perfect since I’d been experimenting with intermittent fasting for a few weeks. One of the things I noticed with not eating for 12- 16 hours was the feeling of being in my body.
The challenge of moving through the hunger into presence and mindfulness awakened me to a new perspective with food. What I’ve learned so far is that there is actually a sense of freedom in not having to eat.
I’d been in a breakfast funk for months on end, so it seemed like an easy fix for that. I know this is a shift in thinking from the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” mentality. But I’ve come to appreciate more and more that there is no one size fits all plan.
If you suffer from low blood sugar, acid reflux, or ulcers bear with me here. Having had all those things, I know feeling hungry can be uncomfortable. But the goal is to fix those problems not eat around them. I say that without judgement, as an observation based on experience.
If you want to try this experiment for yourself, see how long you can go without eating. For some this may be 8 hours. For others, it may be 12. Some may only be able to handle 2 or 3 hours without food. Try pushing yourself past the initial hunger pangs. The feeling of being hungry will get you in touch with your inner hunger not your mind hunger.
Warning this is not for anyone who’s had any kind of eating disorder. Instead it’s for those who love food too much to ever give it up or for those who have a fear around feeling deprived if they give up food.
While doing this experiment ask yourself the following questions:
What do you feel in your body when you are hungry?
What signal does your body give you that you are hungry?
What foods does it crave when you are hungry, really hungry?
Do you feel like eating more or less after going without food for hours?
How does it change your relationship with food – for example does it feel like food has less control or more control over you?
Remember food is nourishment for both our body and soul. Being hungry is merely an exercise in tuning into body wisdom.