079. What the heck does honoring hunger and feeling fullness even mean (EPISODE 1 OF 3)

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Ryann Nicole


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Episode Transcript

Ryann

Okay, well, hello, everybody. I have Lisa here. Lisa’s been on my podcast before, but she is coming on to do something super special with me. So what we’re doing together is we’re gonna do a series of three different episodes diving into some of the, I don’t wanna say controversial, but the topics that just raise a lot of oomph when I post them on social media and just really diving into what’s true, what’s diet culture, what is just false information. Lisa is a dietician, so she is going to be answering and giving us information from a dietetic perspective with all of her information and her knowledge in dietetics. And she’s also a personal trainer, so she’s going to add in some of that as well. And then I’ll sprinkle in a little bit of psychology. So today is episode one of three, and we’re going to be diving into hunger and fullness today. Lisa, thank you so much for being here.

Lisa

Of course. I’m so excited, and I love the three topics that you picked. I won’t spoil anything, but I think you’re right. You picked ones that are, they give you like, like you said, they’re not controversial, but they cause like a very big commotion whenever you talk about them or post about them. So hopefully we can answer some good questions and get a little, get a little nitty gritty.

Ryann

Yes. Yes. Diving into all the stuff that is, I don’t know, but we’ll just, we’ll just dive into it. I don’t want to spoil anything, but anyways, I was just chatting with Lisa before about how I wanted to structure this. And I was thinking about the fact that the other day I asked you all what was your biggest struggles when it comes to hunger and fullness and you all left so many amazing, I don’t want to say amazing that you’re struggling with that, but amazing responses to that that you’re absolutely not the only one that is struggling with.

With those responses that I got I want to share that a lot of them were repeats. And so I went through those questions and I picked out five of them that Lisa and I are going to chat about today and really dive into. So I’m going to start by asking Lisa the question, what’s going on? And she’s going to give us the tea from, again, the biological perspective. And then I’ll sprinkle in a little bit of the psychology from there, a little bit of the mindset work So, let’s go ahead and dive in. I want to start with some hunger stuff before diving into fullness stuff because a lot of it comes down to fullness, but, and I know Lisa, you’ll talk a little bit more to this in a moment, but the thing that I feel like is most often looked over when it comes to fullness is that most of our struggles around fullness comes down to the fact that we’re not honoring hunger. And so we’re gonna dive into that.

First of all, Lisa, I wanna ask you, so one of the questions that I got very often is, I don’t feel hunger cues until I’m either ravenous or I wanna eat everything in sight. So I would love if you could just give us a little overview of what are the different hunger cues in our body that happen when we are experiencing hunger that maybe we dismiss and how that is different from the cues that we get when we’re ravenous.

Lisa

Yeah, I think, like you said, this is such a good question and it is something that a lot of people struggle with. And hunger cues are a hard idea to kind of like wrap your brain around because a lot of us don’t notice them until what I like to call, it’s like a slap in the face. Like, hey, hello, I’m super hungry, I’m ravenous. We miss all those little taps on the shoulder. And that is just from learned behavior, right? It’s not like these cues go away. It’s not like our body stops signaling until we get to that ravenous point. We as humans are just really, really good at ignoring those cues. Then like we said, there’s all these different cues and I’m gonna name off like some that you may or may not experience, but they are super different for everyone. It depends on your body.

It depends on your level of hunger. If you’re familiar at all with like a hunger or fullness scale, this can be super helpful. But essentially when you break it down and ask like, what is a hunger cue? It’s that mind gut connection. So it’s your gut telling your mind like, hey, I need some food. I need something to continue doing whatever you’re asking me to do. I need that energy. And it could be as simple as like a little grumble in the stomach. It could be a struggle focusing all the way to the point of feeling so sick. That’s usually that like ravenous feeling where like, oh my gosh, I could be everything in sight. And like I said, everyone’s gonna be so different. So my first sign of hunger might be that stomach gurgle, but you might notice, oh, I can’t focus for more than 20 minutes at a time.

Or I can’t focus for, you know, on whatever I’m doing, I keep having to take breaks or I’m getting super distracted, brain fog, things like that. And like I said, it’s that mind-gut connection and it never goes away. Your gut is still signaling to your mind like, hey, I need a little bit of fuel. Hey, my tank’s getting a little empty, but we are just really, really good at ignoring it, powering through whatever we’re doing and then not realizing like, oh, I’m really hungry until it slaps us in the face. And as you start to kind of identify these hunger cues, start to be a little bit more in tune with your body, you’ll slowly start to recognize yours, recognize what is a tap on the shoulder versus slap in the face. But that’s like my number one thing that I tell people. They don’t go away. We just get really, really good at ignoring them.

Ryann

Yeah, I super appreciate that. And I love how you kind of differentiate the difference between the tap on the shoulder. I usually say whispers before they turn into screams, but I like the tap before the push. I feel like that’s super accurate. Before I add to that, I would love to know just selfishly, because this is something that I actually don’t know. Why does hunger turn into nausea when you push it too far?

Lisa

Yeah, so thinking, I’m gonna relate everything back to like how much fuel is in your tank and all those things. So if you push it too far, your body’s kind of like in this hyper-aware state where it’s been sending so many SOS signals, right? So many whispers, so many taps on the shoulders that it just like gets to this point where it’s, it’s so overwhelmed and it’s so under fueled that it’s sending that like last emergency response. And when you’re nauseous, that’s a feeling that you cannot ignore. Like if you have that feeling, it’s something everyone knows and everyone is pretty, hopefully, able to respond to. And it’s kind of just like that last ditch effort to be like, hey, give me something. However, that can then go both ways because when you’re nauseous, really the last thing you want to do is eat in some instances.

So it’s kind of just, it’s that last attempt. It’s your body’s kind of like, okay, this is my last effort. If he or she doesn’t feed me after this, like, I don’t know what else I’m gonna do. And it’s really that last signal, like, hey, I am running on empty. You need to give me something. You need to do, like, I need a little bit of fuel. And it could be due to, you know, there’s now an empty stomach. You have increased like stomach acids and all these things. There is extremely low blood sugar. Like all of these things that play into another just come out as the nausea.

Ryann

Last resort. I love how you put that as like, okay, this is like the last signal your body is like trying to get you to say, okay, give me food now. I think it’s so important to recognize this is not your body going into a place of, okay, now I’m getting sick. This is a last resort signal.

Lisa

Yes, exactly.

Ryann

Oh, powerful. So well said. I mean, the only thing that I would add to that, just going off of what you said in the sense that the hunger doesn’t actually go away, is that one of the main reasons why we lose such of these hunger and fullness signals is the numbing and the mindset that you get into of ignoring these signals to the point where you just don’t recognize them anymore because you’ve gotten so good at ignoring them. And so when we’re working on how to get those signals back, the best way is to take what Lisa said and recognizing, okay, what are the cues that I’m looking for, but also doing just that, starting to pay attention. We can’t hear those cues or get back in touch with those cues, especially after ignoring them for so long, if we’re not listening to them.

Lisa

Exactly.

Ryann

So, so good. Okay. Next question, kind of going off of that, when someone feels like, okay, I feel hungry and then I don’t eat and then the feeling passes, I know you kind of just answered that, but just to dive in a little bit deeper, what is going on in the body, the long, like physically, the longer you ignore that signal?

Lisa

Yeah, so we’ll get a little sciencey here. I love it. So when we start to get hungry, that’s usually because our blood sugar is low. So blood sugar just means the amount of glucose, carbohydrate, sugars, all those words are interchangeable, in the bloodstream. And really what that means is how much energy is flowing through our blood that we can then utilize for whatever we’re doing. So we start to feel hungry because those blood sugar levels are dropping. Totally normal when that happens, we release ghrelin, the hunger hormone. I always think of it like a little gremlin inside of your stomach growling. That is how I remember that.

Ryann

I’ll never forget that.

Lisa

So that is a hormone being released and it kind of signals like, hey, we’re starting to get hungry. We need a little bit more fuel. If you ignore that, which we’ve already discussed, it’s very simple. And if you’re thinking like, oh my gosh, I’m ignoring these signals. It’s okay. It’s not a big deal because we can learn how to honor them better. But in that situation, we ignored the signals. Now your body’s like, okay, I didn’t get the energy that I asked for. I didn’t get any food or fuel. So now I have to figure out how to get energy. And it goes into this like reverse system.

So what it starts doing, it can start pulling fat or protein and then trying to take that, convert it into a carbohydrate and then use it for fuel. So the reason you don’t feel hungrier, why that hunger kind of goes away, is because your body has switched gears and it’s now trying to take a storage form, convert it into its primary, primarily, oh my gosh, convert it into its primary energy source. It’s a lot of words, I told you it was fancy. Convert it into that primary source of energy and then use it. So it went from, hey, I need fuel. That little signal didn’t get recognized. It completely switches focus. It’s still trying to get you that fuel. It’s just in a different way.

Ryann

Yeah, that’s super powerful. And I think going off of that, when we’re looking at the mindset, the thing that is so difficult with that is, even if you no longer feel those cues anymore, they’re still there. And I think the most imperative thing that I ever learned in recovery was that, our body makes up for what it needs on its own terms, not ours. So just because I ignored that hunger and I no longer feel it, that doesn’t mean that my body doesn’t need that energy anymore.

So when we are trying to rebuild our relationship with food, and then we go into ignoring these signals and then sitting down and feeling like I can’t stop eating because the problem isn’t that I can’t stop eating, the problem is that I didn’t give my body energy before and so my body is just trying to get that energy now, it’s really tough on the mind. So not only is it tough on the body, but that feels like, okay, what is wrong with me? Why am I so out of control? Why do I have no discipline? When the reality is, is it’s just your body trying to make up for what it didn’t get before.

And that has nothing to do with you and everything to do with your body, just trying to get its needs met, which again is tough on the mind when you’re trying to get back into control of food and feeling control of food. And it definitely takes a whammy on what is going on. And I think it’s important to recognize, when I choose to ignore my hunger, what that’s gonna mean for me later down the road. And if that’s something that I feel like is going to benefit me long-term, or if that’s something that maybe I want to try doing something a little bit differently to see what happens.

Lisa

Yeah, I think that’s good. The easiest way to kind of like summarize that to kind of put like the mind and the body together is like if you had two tasks that were completely different and you constantly just switched back and forth like 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there, you would be so exhausted. You would probably get nothing done because you’d have to go and be like, oh, this is where I am in this one. And then you switch, oh, this is where I am in this one. That’s essentially what the body is doing. It’s switching back and forth from fuel sources. And the mind is just like, where are we going? What’s happening? So it’s exhausting on like all fronts and really nothing gets fully accomplished the way that we would like it to.

Ryann

Yeah, yeah. Oh my gosh. I think that that is one of the things that I know I kind of looked over for a long time saying, you know what, I’m in control, body, you’re not in control. And then when I allowed my body to start doing its job and letting go of something that was never meant to be my job, things just felt better in my body, but psychologically as well.

Lisa

Oh yeah, 100%.

Ryann

So going off of that and moving into a little bit of fullness struggles, first and foremost, one of the biggest struggles that I saw was that I don’t recognize fullness until I’m overly full. So kind of like that initial hunger one, now we’re flipping it to the other way. So what are some fullness cues to look out for in the body and why might that be happening from a biological perspective?

Lisa

Yeah, so it goes, it’s almost just like you said, it’s like if you flip flop it. If you are so extremely full, you can feel sick, nauseated. So that’s like, again, on each end of the spectrum, you can have that like nauseous sick feeling. But then there’s everything from like increased body temperature, upset stomach, like all of these different signs and signals that kind of tell you that we’re full. I think the most common one here, or the common reason why we don’t allow ourselves to feel or even notice these signals is because the idea of fullness, especially in like society today is kind of frowned upon. Like it’s something that we don’t talk about, but essentially what’s happening is just like when you’re hungry, all those signs and symptoms are kicking in, we’re just kind of going in reverse order.

And from a biological standpoint, now our blood sugar levels are increasing, right? So we have all this food, we are releasing leptin. So again, that gut brain connection, we’re releasing a different hormone that is actually signaling our fat cells, our adipose cells, like, hey, we’re good. We have enough energy. That’s leptin’s role, is to tell your hypothalamus, like, we’re done eating, we have enough fuel, we’re full, we’re good to go. So it’s just the opposite of hunger, a different hormone, a different response in your blood sugar, but the symptoms or those signs are very, very similar.

Ryann

Yeah, yeah. And going off of that, not only knowing what we’re looking for, but also paying attention. Eating is one of those things that we do so often that it’s so easy for our mind to want to go into autopilot when we do it. And the thing is, is that oftentimes, yes, we don’t know what fullness is, but I think too, a lot of the times it is, I am just so disconnected from what I’m doing with food right now that I don’t notice that my body is telling me it’s had enough until it is in that point where it’s screaming, it’s had enough. And so when we’re trying to get reconnected with fullness, if you feel like you’re one of those people that can’t stop until you’re at an overly level of fullness, let’s start by trying to be a little bit more mindful around our eating.

And the thing that I always get comments on is that people reach out and they’ll say, Ryann, I just like enjoy eating in front of the TV. Like it brings me a lot of pleasure. Like I just really cannot find anything enjoyable about sitting down and eating without distractions at the table. And the thing with that is, yes, eating in front of the TV can bring you some kind of pleasure in the sense that it’s kind of like a checkout pleasure. But for me, what kind of helped was all day long, I think about food. And then when I sit down to eat, I’m not paying attention to what I’m eating. How does that make sense?

So when I started to pay attention a little bit and I was like, if I’m gonna think about food all day long, when I sit down, I’m gonna actually allow myself to like be there and enjoy it and like taste the flavors and be there and be like, oh my gosh, this is so good that I started to recognize that I actually preferred to eat that way. And given the opportunity, I was like, if I have a chance to sit down with a chocolate chip cookie, like a warm chocolate chip cookie, like straight out of the oven, you think I want to take that in front of the TV and like pay more attention to what’s going on in the TV than the flavors that that are in my mouth? Absolutely not. I wanna sit down at the table and I wanna taste everything. Like I wanna taste the chocolate melting in my mouth. Like I wanna taste the crunchy texture of like the outside with the gooeyness on the inside. Like when you think about that experience, that too can be so helpful in just feeling, okay, I’m not only full, but that mental component of now I’m full and satisfied.

Lisa

That’s exactly what I was gonna say. The difference between being satisfied and being full. And I think until you take a second and you slow down and you’re more mindful in that entire experience. Like I always tell my clients, we have to make eating an experience. Like from where are you sitting to do you have a place mat and a pretty plate? Like, how are we trying, almost like romanticizing as much as possible. That does wonders for you to just be able to notice a little bit more about yourself, a little bit more about how you feel after or during a meal.

And then doing that time and time again is going to help you be so much more in tune with your signs and symptoms that come along on the different levels of fullness, right? How do you feel when you’re satisfied versus how do you feel when you’re completely stuffed and everything in between? And it feels weird because like you said, we think about food all day. We’re hyper-focused on what are we eating next? Where’s it coming from? How am I gonna make it? All these things. And then when we get down to that thing that we’ve been spending so much time and energy thinking about, it’s the last thing on our mind. And that is that, like, as soon as you said that, I was like, oh my gosh, yes. Like, that’s exactly it. We go from hyper-focusing on that to not giving it a second of our attention.

Ryann

Yeah, and I was listening to a podcast the other day with Isabel Foxen Duke, and she made a really good point in a sense that there’s nothing wrong with eating in front of the TV. Like that’s not something that we need to demonize. And at the same time, we need to be able to sit down at the table and eat. It is not, I need to force myself not to eat in front of the TV. It is, can I be okay eating at the table? And then if I choose to eat in front of the TV, I can make that decision. Where it’s like, I’m not making this right or wrong. And I’m also honoring the fact that when I sit down at the table, it is just a different experience entirely.

Lisa

Having that, that balance being able to do both is so, cause like you said, there’s nothing wrong with eating in front of the TV, but we have to be able to do both feel really comfortable with both because that’s how life is, right? We’re not always gonna be sitting at a table with no distractions. We’re not always gonna be sitting in front of the TV. There’s gonna be so many times where you’re having a meal or a snack in strange areas, the airport, your car, like whatever it might be, but still being able to be present in the moment regardless of where you are physically located, I think that’s the thing that if you just give a little bit more time, a little bit effort to being present, being mindful, makes a world of a difference.

Ryann

Yeah, and we don’t need to complicate it. It can be something as simple as, I’m just gonna take a minute to taste what I’m tasting right now in my mouth. I’m just gonna hold it in my mouth and see what I feel, see what I taste, and then I’m gonna continue going on with whatever it is that I’m doing, and just notice the difference that that makes.

Lisa

Right. Powerful.

Ryann

So going off of that with fullness, the next thing that I’ve noticed a lot of people struggling with, or that they mentioned they struggle with, is I can’t stop eating, or I have a really hard time stopping eating when I’m eating something really delicious. So I would love to know from you, what is going on in the body when we’re eating something that is really good? And I don’t want to dive too deep into sugar because that’s what we’re talking about next. So we’re going to save that piece, but just in general, like when we’re eating something that is really delicious, whether it is something sweet, or maybe it is just like pizza or just something really good, what is going on in the body with all of those flavors? Like why is it so much harder to stop?

Lisa

Yeah, and I won’t give everything away because this kind of, like not only does it touch on sugar but it touches on our last topic, restriction too. But the easiest way to explain this is it’s that last supper mentality. You’re like, ooh, especially if this is a food that maybe you have a food rule around or a thought and belief, or maybe you do limit it because it’s, I’m doing heavy air quotes right now, good or bad. Your body goes into this like, oh, don’t know when I’m gonna get this again, might as well have all of it right now.

And that mindfulness, that like being present, it goes completely out the window and you’re kind of on like an autopilot. There’s no listening to the hunger or fullness cues at this point. Who cares what your blood sugar is doing because we are not paying any attention to like biologically what’s going on in the body. Something has clicked and told us like, this is a food I enjoy and maybe this isn’t a food I allow myself all the time. So this one’s way, way more mental than physical because you’re on autopilot.

Ryann

Right, so let me ask you this to go more into physical. If I wanted to reduce the scarcity, and so I have chocolate after lunch and after dinner every single day, right now. I don’t know how long it’s gonna last, but I have that every single day right now. And it’s been, let’s just say three months that I’ve been doing that. Is that a problem? Is that unhealthy, like in my body? Is there anything wrong, fundamentally, air quotes with that?

Lisa

No, not at all. And there’s a ton of studies on this actually. So say, we’ll use chocolate, because that’s the example you brought up. Say you’re craving chocolate. Usually the way that that chocolate tastes changes after about your second bite. However, we are just eating and eating, right? We’re on autopilot. So you’re just eating where if you don’t take a second to taste the chocolate, how does it feel on your tongue? Is it dark chocolate? Is it milk chocolate? Like, if you don’t take a second to really use your senses, you just go on to autopilot.

And then that’s when we can’t stop because you’re like, this doesn’t taste the same. I might as well take it, like I need to take another bite to make sure. Oh, nope, that one didn’t taste the same as the first bite. And there’s studies that show that that first bite is always going to be the best, the tastiest. That’s what you are thinking of, right, when you’re craving it. And then the more and more you eat, the more and more that taste diminishes. And there’s something in us that’s like, oh, no, I have to keep eating until I have that taste like it did at the very first one. And biologically, that won’t happen because the need has been met. We’re just kind of not acknowledging that.

And that’s where this like continuous eating comes from. So the next time that happens or you it’s a food that you notice is you feel very uncontrolled or out of control around. Do the two bite thing like really savor it, smell it, like try to use all of your senses to just be in that moment a little bit more and then see, like, is it the second bite? Is it the fourth bite? Like, where do you notice that shift in taste?

Ryann

Yeah, and I think going off of that too, just as you said, adding in that food more often because this is very much a mindset thing. And I know there are times where, let’s say we’re at a restaurant and we’re having things that are very decadent and they’re just delicious and they’re things that we don’t get all of the time. The more that we eat delicious food on a regular basis, the less of an impact having that intense flavor that we don’t get all the time will have just on our mind. And then we can move into using the mantra of, I can have delicious food whenever I want. So I don’t need to eat too uncomfortably full now. And I think too, along with that, recognizing that there are going to be times where food is so delicious and you make the choice. You make the choice and say, you know what? The stomach ache is worth it. And sometimes it is. Thanksgiving, nine out of 10 times, the stomach ache is worth it for me. And so I say, you know what? I’m recognizing the fact that I’m feeling full. And in this moment, I’m making the choice and I’m owning that choice. And afterwards I can be like, you know what? Yeah, I don’t feel great, but I chose that. It is what it is. That was delicious. And I’m moving on and recognizing the fact that in that moment you have a choice, but the choice is gonna be harder if this is something that you only get so often.

Lisa

Exactly, and I think kind of touching back on the hunger scale, which is something that you, you know, a lot of people in their intuitive eating journey or whether they’re, you know, just trying to find that food freedom, they utilize and they get really stuck on, oh my gosh, I have to stay in that sweet spot, which is where you can like notice that you’re kind of hungry and then you eat till you’re like kind of full or satisfied. Like there is what is called a sweet spot if you’re familiar with the hunger scale. And I’ve had clients come to me and be like, I just can’t stay in that sweet spot or I’m really struggling to stay in that sweet spot.

And your sweet spot might be different than what it says it should be. Or you might be making the choice to say, I want to eat past this, or I’m going to let myself get a little bit hungrier. Like, I think that’s an important component too, knowing that there isn’t just this like one size fits all that you have to do, have to stay in this sweet spot. But you’re able to make these decisions and it becomes easier when it’s a food that you are around time and time again, instead of a food that you only have once in a blue moon.

Ryann

Right, I’m so happy you brought that up because I think that that is also one of the things that is very missed in changing our relationship with food is moving from, okay, I am letting go of the rules and the restriction, and we don’t realize how easy it is to fall into the hunger and fullness diet, where it is, I can only eat when I’m hungry and I have to stop when I’m full. And if you are someone who struggles with, when you feel that fullness, having it turn into a binge, I would get really curious about if that’s what’s going on, because odds are, that’s probably the trap that you’re falling into, where your mind goes into, oh my gosh, I blew it, I messed up my fullness, I might as well just keep eating because tomorrow I’m not gonna do this again.

Lisa

Right, and then it’s essentially, it’s a diet. Like you said, you’re still having all those same diet culture thoughts, like, oh, I, again, heavy air quotes, I did bad, I messed up, I’m just gonna start over tomorrow. Like that, you know, oh, tomorrow, or I did bad this weekend, I’m gonna restart on Monday. Like that is all diet culture. And I think it’s almost, not that I like this, but it’s almost a natural progression as you’re finding food freedom that you get kind of stuck in that hunger fullness phase for a little bit, because you have to figure it out, right? You have to figure out what works for you, what doesn’t, or what triggers you and what doesn’t, and then you move through it.

But I think part of moving through it is recognizing that you are still following rules. You do have some of these like restrictive tendencies or this mentality around where I fall on that hunger scale and oh, I ate past fullness, like you said. So if you are in that phase, know that it’s okay. You’re learning a ton about yourself and how your body responds to different levels of hunger and different levels of fullness and it will get to the food freedom. Everyone’s journey is just so different.

Ryann

Yeah, I’m gonna add in another question because I feel like this is a perfect opportunity to ask this and I just thought about that going off of that hunger and fullness diet and having the fullness spiral into a binge because we’re moving into effort mentality. But on the other hand, when we want to eat when we’re not hungry, whether that be we have dinner plans and I’m not hungry and I want to make sure that I experience dinner, or maybe I’m watching a movie with my partner and I’m not hungry but I’m really in the mood for popcorn, or I’m meeting a girlfriend for coffee and I’m not hungry and she asks, do you want to split a pastry? And I say, yeah, biologically when I’m not hungry and I eat what happens?

Lisa

And this, I’m glad you brought this up because this is the kind of the difference between hunger and appetite.

Ryann

Mmm. So good.

Lisa

Because appetite is exactly what you said. The best way to describe appetite is you’re watching a movie or you’re at a movie theater and you’re like, ooh, I’m not necessarily hungry, but popcorn. Like you gotta have popcorn when you’re watching a movie or the same thing, you’re grabbing coffee and a pastry just like goes so well with that coffee. And I think the easiest thing to differentiate is appetite is more of like a desire for food. So it’s the thoughts, see like the sight, the smell, the, you know, it’s just more of that like brainstorming process or you see something and you can have an appetite or, you know, want a specific food item even if you’re not necessarily hungry, just like the popcorn example. kind of impacted, I guess you would call it, by where you are.

Are you on medication? Are you pregnant? What is your mental health like at the moment? Like there’s so many things that play into appetite because it’s essentially just this food sounds good or this food smells really good right now. Like if you drive by and the Krispy Kreme, you know, donut sign is on and they’re making- Don’t do that to me, we don’t have a Krispy Kreme here. The two things that you don’t have that I always bring up, Krispy Kreme and Trader Joe’s. I apologize. But it’s like that, oh, I saw that, I know what those smell like. I know how like melt in your mouth warm that is. And I’m not necessarily hungry, but my appetite has been stimulated. I think that’s the difference there.

And it’s okay. Like if you are in this situation where you’re watching a movie and popcorn sounds really good because, of course it does, you’re watching a movie, it’s okay to have some of that. And there doesn’t have to be this like, oh, well, I’m not hungry or it’s not, you know, I’m at this really good spot on the hunger scale and this would push it farther. It’s okay. Like eating in those instances is okay because that’s life, right? That is where all the fun parts of life happen and that’s where you’re able to really be present in those moments and experience everything and how you make memories. So it’s okay and I think understanding that it’s not necessarily hunger, it’s appetite and it’s okay if you decide to eat in that moment, that’s totally okay. Just like there’s multiple different types of hunger. Appetite is a little bit different, but still a valid thing to honor.

Ryann

Yeah. And going off of that, I think when you eat and you’re not hungry, your body just doesn’t ignore that. And I think that that’s really important for us to recognize as well when we’re getting back in touch with hunger and fullness, especially when we’re trying to work through the idea that it’s wrong or bad to eat when we’re not hungry. When I eat, when I’m not hungry, my body takes that into account and says, okay, well, I’m satisfied. I’ve had some energy. So maybe I can push out those hunger cues a little bit longer where even if I wasn’t hungry and I had the cookie and maybe typically I get hungry, you know, around five or six for dinner, maybe it’s now 6:30 because I had that. Where it’s like, our body is taking that into account too. And I think that that can kind of help us relax around this idea that eating when you’re not hungry is wrong because your body still uses that energy and then just pushes out your hunger later.

Lisa

That’s exactly what I was gonna say. You’re still providing the body with fuel. So the body’s still gonna utilize that fuel. You are then just maybe, or maybe you would be hungry at the same time, but not as hungry. Your dinner would look smaller or something like that. Your body is so good at regulating itself. And once we really kind of take a step back and understand that our body works wonderfully on its own, like it is this very natural thing that if I have a snack in the middle of the afternoon, my dinner might be smaller or I might not be hungry till later and my dinner might be the same size. Like there’s so many things that, so many variables that can be at play here and it’s okay.

I don’t want anyone to think like, oh my gosh, I ate when I wasn’t hungry and this totally like, it’s gonna mess up everything that’s going on biologically because your body’s just gonna notice, oh, got a little bit more fuel. Okay, don’t need as much later on. Or maybe you did a crazy hard workout that day and your body needs more fuel because it needs to repair your muscles and give you energy to do all those things on top of recovering from a workout. It’s so normal. And I think what scares people is that our hunger isn’t consistent day to day to day. You might have a day where you’re not as hungry and then you might have a day where you’re super hungry and that’s just your body’s way of regulating itself and that’s completely normal.

Ryann

Yeah, because we don’t do the same thing every single day. That’s why I think it’s so silly for calorie counting apps putting us on the same amount of calories every single day. We absolutely do not do the same thing every single day. And so of course, it goes into us feeling crazy around food because we’re trying to either limit ourselves or we’re maybe even taking an abundant amount because we didn’t move as much or we moved way more.

And I think that all of that is so important to take into play and I think that not only will the body slow down those hunger signals if let’s say I ate when I wasn’t hungry but I think too as well like when I go on vacation and I really enjoy myself and yes I eat more than maybe my body was asking for the same way if I’m in touch with my hunger and fullness and I can come back from this vacation and just continue on with my life, I’ve noticed that as well, my hunger signals are a little chilled out for a while as I’m kind of regulated, and then they get back to normal. But when I would come back from vacation and be like, nope, diet starts now, and I tried to restrict, I ended up just spiraling into more binging.

Lisa

Exactly, exactly. Or like you can even use your period. We, our needs are so different around our period. And I think everyone gets a little nervous, like, oh my gosh, I’m eating so much. I’m like, yeah, your body’s doing this crazy thing. Like it’s preparing for you to have a baby or not have it. Like all of these things are at play, right? And the female body is amazing, but that scares everyone, especially when you’re in that diet mentality and you think I need X amount of calories every single day, regardless of what I did or did not do, that is such an unrational way to look at our bodies because today, tomorrow, the next day, I’m gonna have three different energy needs, right?

Based on what I do, where I’m at in my cycle, all of these things, the stress that I have placed on myself, the environment, how hot and cold it is. There’s so many things that affect your body’s energy needs that it’s very, very silly to think that it’s as simple as just like, oh, follow one number and that’s it. I shouldn’t say simple, it’s not that simple. But we try to, calorie counting apps, diets, try to make it be that simple. And when we do that, it just kind of causes a lot of problems.

Ryann

I so appreciate you bringing that up because I know for me, that was something that I struggled with a lot. I know a lot of my clients struggle with that a lot when it is time of the month and feeling more of an appetite. And I would say if you struggle with this mentally with your appetite just shooting through the roof a few times a month and that really catches you off guard, let’s start tracking the days. I was going to say tracking your cycle. Tracking your cycle so you know when that’s coming so you don’t fall into this mindset of what’s wrong with me? Why am I so hungry? Why can’t I get full? How nice is it to be like, odds are on the 18th, I’m going to be pretty hungry. So I’m just going to stack my meals accordingly. And that can be really helpful and just calming down the anxiety in your mind?

Lisa

Oh yeah, 100%, I love that. And then it’s just one less what if that you’re worried about. It’s one less anxiety inducing aspect. You just know like, yep, time of the month, I’m gonna be a little hungrier and that’s okay. And I move on with my life. Like that is so normal, but like you said, so healthy to just kind of add it into your day to day.

Ryann

Yeah, the last question that I have, I swear Lisa and I could chat forever, but the last question that I have, and I know that you are a weight neutral dietician, but I feel like this is really important for us to bring up because I think that, you know, it’s something that we need to kind of clear the air on. And that is, if I, I don’t love the word overeat, if I get really full and I eat more than my body asks for, does that mean I’m gaining weight?

Lisa

No, not at all. Just like we said, your body’s needs are gonna be so different on a day to day. And if there is say one meal or even one day or a month, like a handful of days that you eat past your comfortable fullness, your body is going to still utilize that energy. It’s still going to be like, oh, hey, cool, like I got a little extra energy that I can use to do this or this or this. You might notice, too, like the more fuel that you have, if you’re maybe working out or doing something like that, you might be running faster, you might be lifting stronger, you might be recovering better. Like your body’s still gonna utilize that energy. And if it’s a one-time thing, or a one day or even three days at a time, however, you know, we’re talking acute timeframe, small timeframe, short timeframe, it’s not going to just instantly be like, oh, you ate past this magical number of calories that some app told you to do.

All of that extra just is immediately stored. That is not how the body works. Over time, yes. If we are completely ignoring, and I’m just being very honest, like if we’re completely ignoring our hunger fullness cues and just eating whatever we want, whenever we want, and we’re so out of touch with those signs and signals, yes, then that will happen. And if you do the opposite extreme, yes, weight loss will happen. Like that is so natural, but if it’s every now and then, and then you’re back to, you know, honoring your body’s hunger and fullness cues, or at least trying to become more in tune with them, no, the body’s gonna find a need for that extra energy, utilize it, and then go back to what it was.

And your hunger and fullness signs will change whether you notice that or not, just like we were talking about before. If you eat past fullness at one meal, the next meal it’s not gonna ask for as much. So I don’t want you to think like if I have one heavy air quotes here, bad day, it’s totally like, oh, I’m, you know, it was a waste or it’s gonna lead to weight gain, that’s not the case whatsoever.

Ryann

I love how you put that. And I think that it’s so easy for us to put such a strong emphasis on one time of getting really full because we equate that to maybe the way that our body has changed in the past. But I invite you to get curious about the fact that isn’t me getting really full that’s really contributing to the changes in my body or is it the shame that happens after I get really full that then spirals me into a binge and then I restrict and then of course I get really full and I’m on this cycle for so long.

When I just relaxed around food and just really embrace the mantra of the only difference between me eating to more or less full is that I’ll be hungry again sooner or later and that’s it. If I, let’s say, eat breakfast and I get really full, I’m the kind of gal that I’m a snacker, I’m like the six meals a day, like that is just the way that my body works. And if I have breakfast and I get really full at breakfast, I either need a smaller snack or maybe I don’t need it at all. But when I spiral into, oh my gosh, it’s only 9 a.m. and I already ate that many calories and focusing on that, then I freak out, then I go into scarcity mindset and all of a sudden I just wanna continue eating versus if I can just relax around fullness and just be like, you know what, I am really full right now.

It is what it is. Don’t love this feeling, but my body will take care of that. Just like Lisa said, I just got to take care of my mind. Then we can continue moving through life and just remaining at the size that our body functions optimally at, otherwise known as our happy weight.

Lisa

And I think that’s important too. And like you said, you’re a six meals a day type of person. Some people might be three, some people might be five. Like you have to go through all of this to figure out what works best for you. Not what works best for me, not what works best for your best friend or whatever, but it’s what works best for you and just becoming very comfortable with that. Because your body’s gonna respond so well. You’re gonna be at that happy weight. You’re gonna be like, everything kind of clicks when we just relax and realize our bodies are these like magical things. I don’t like the word machine, so I will not use that.

A lot of people say that and I don’t like it, but they are these like magical beings that self-regulate very, very well. And it’s us that usually gets in the way of that self-regulation. Maybe we’re aware of it, maybe we’re not, but the body is gonna do what it needs to do. And it’s usually us who are like causing more problems.

Ryann

Yes, oh my gosh. So can we all make a pact together today that we’re gonna let our body do its job and we’re gonna hang up our title of being in charge of our body and just say, you know what, that was never my job to begin with. I’m gonna let go, I’m gonna let it do its thing and I’m gonna continue working on my mind and just listening to what it’s asking for so I can feel my best.

Lisa

Oh, I love that.

Ryann

All right, guys, that is all we have today for our Hunger in Fullness lesson with Lisa. And next week, tune back in for our second episode on this series. We’re gonna be talking about sugar. It’s gonna be a spicy, good one. I know that I always get so much hate when I talk about sugar. And it just always is so interesting to me, because when someone defends something that aggressively, I just get curious about why. What is going on there? Especially when there’s no credentials behind it. So Lisa and I are going to clear the air together and it’s going to be a good one. So Lisa, thank you for all of that and everybody, we will see you next week or talk to you next week.

Ryann Nicole

Licensed Therapist, Certified Nutritionist, and Virtual Wellness Coach

Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.

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Ryann is a licensed therapist and virtual wellness coach who has assisted individuals worldwide in establishing a healthier relationship with food and their bodies.