Learning to Live with Hunger

Yesterday I took some time to really contemplate hunger.  As I’m trying to lose weight, I’ve realized that maybe the discomfort of slight hunger is akin to the slight discomfort from say, not having your house at the perfect temperature at all times.  People lived without air conditioning for all of history, save the last 50 years or so.  Now, we’re uncomfortable when the temperature is even a couple degrees from perfect.

I think maybe the same goes for hunger.  We live with such abundance here in America.  Even in those first shaky years of my marriage and family, when money was scarce and rent was almost always late, I was never hungry.  The idea of always eating until we’re full seems just as “given” as the idea of always controlling the temperature to within a couple degrees.

I’m starting to think this is wrong.  Defining the end of every meal as being the point of total satisfaction (and often more) is a recipe for disaster.  I see now how I got overweight.  I expected to feel “full” after every meal, and even the slightest hunger was a discomfort I was unwilling to live with.  I think if I can learn to live with even the smallest amount of hunger, I can eat much less.

My wife gives the kids as much as they want to eat.  That sounds good on the surface, but I’m starting to think it’s wrong, and will leave them as overweight as she and I have become.  Refills of sweet breakfast cereal until kids no longer desire more seems dangerous.  Perhaps just a single serving is in order.  And if the kids are really still hungry, something more nutritious(and less tasty) like toast is probably a better way to go.  If you’re really hungry, you’ll eat toast.  But it doesn’t take more than a sweet tooth to down another bowl of sugary cereal, even the varieties that are “healthier”.

This summer I did a great job of conditioning myself to live with the mild discomfort of temperature.  I didn’t use my mustang’s a/c at all, even when hopping on the interstate for 20 minutes or so meant keeping the windows rolled up.  Eventually, it didn’t even seem like discomfort at all, and I’m genuinely shocked at times when my wife needs air conditioning.  I did the same thing with physical effort, upping my daily tolerance.  Perhaps I can do the same thing with hunger.  Maybe if I’m always comfortable with a mild amount of hunger, and I accept this mentally, weight will become a non-issue.  And it’s not a bad survival skill!

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