In one of Stephen King’s series of “The Dark Tower” books, there is a section where a few of the characters are traveling through a cold, barren area with no means to create a fire or heat. Before they set off on the journey, one character warns another that they will be miserably and uncomfortably cold during the journey. The cold will not be enough to kill them, but it will fill them with despair and discomfort during every waking moment such that it will feel impossible to endure over the long duration of the trip.
Yesterday, I was having one of those days where hunger gnaws at me all day. It is one of those familiar situations for people trying to lose weight where you want to eat all of the time and never feel satisfied within the limits of your eating plan. By 4:30 of that day, I had eaten nearly 1300 calories of the 1500 I try to allot myself. In the end, I finished at around 1600 thanks to the good choice of hummus on whole wheat toast for dinner. The protein in the chickpeas, coupled with getting pretty busy and not being able to dwell on my hunger, saw me through.
The situation in the first paragraph came to mind yesterday when I was fighting off that desire to eat all of the time. Much of the time, I am not eating to a point of feeling full, but eating smallish amounts in an effort to keep my hunger at bay and to fool my body into thinking it’s not starving when it really would prefer more food. Just like the characters in the story are never cold enough to freeze to death, I’m never deprived enough of food to starve. And just as they are often miserable because they can’t get warm enough, I’m sometimes miserable because I never can quite eat “enough”. I’m often trying to balance myself on the point of being just full enough not to uncontrollably dive deeply into a pile of food and only come up for air when I’m uncomfortably full.
I think one of the reasons these days come around where I just want to eat and eat and eat is hormonal (possibly linked to ovulation), but another is that constantly eating below your body’s desired number of calories takes a bit of a toll and it will eventually rebel and try to bully a good solid meal (or two, or three) out of you.
Occasionally, I think it’s okay to give in to this urge with some limitation. Ideally for me, I’d like to do this about twice a month, but only up to the point of 2000 calories. I don’t want to overeat, but perhaps should just give my body a few more calories now and then. I have done this on occasion, but not in response to these days when I want to eat all of the time. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I’m more likely to eat more for emotional reasons than physical ones.
For now, I simply want to be aware of this pattern, and be prepared to manage it as best I can. I think that trying harder not to eat more calories on occasion for emotional reasons and to “save” those higher calorie days for when my body has a biological reason would be the first step.