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"Head Hunger"



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Drives me crazy when people call every kind of hunger "head hunger." Head hunger is when you've just eaten a balanced full calorie meal and you see a donut and think you want it. THAT is head hunger. Or you've just eaten the last of your maintenance calories for the day....and your husband is eating ice cream in bed and you think...damn some ice cream would be good! That's Head Hunger. Or you have a carefully balanced small piece of pizza and a salad, and you think...damn, another piece of pizza would be better than this salad....that's head hunger again. Your nutitional needs have been met, but you are craving something that you don't really need.

When you've just had surgery and you are subsisting on less than 1000 calories a day....you are HUNGRY. Like, really genuinely hungry. So hungry, in fact, that your body's needs are NOT being met by nutritional intake, so it is consuming itself.

Anytime you are losing weight, by definition....your body is genuinely hungry. Your body is so desperately hungry, in fact.....that it is eating human fat (and hopefully not muscle) to meet its fuel needs.

Lack of food and consuming body=HUNGER.

Most of us are hungry. A lot. Being in denial about it and telling people they're lying to themselves about being hungry isn't helpful.

Hunger isn't a dirty word. It's ok if we're hungry. We've got a lot of stored calories and excess flesh to consume.

But YES, I am HUNGRY when i'm losing weight. And yes, hunger sucks.

Sometimes, I think this lie worsens the pathology of food addiction. We already have enough issues with a history of lying to ourselves about food. Sometimes honesty is healthier and better.

When I lose weight...I'm freaking hungry. It sucks to feel hungry, but it's necessary. It feels good to be thinner, it feels good to be healthier, and good health is worth it. I can handle feeling hungry. Enduring hunger is part of the work. Resisting cravings is another part of the work. Two different things. Both are tough.

Describing this honestly...is a hell of a lot easier to swallow, in my opinion, than "No, you're not hungry, your head is playing tricks on you."

We know better. Lies don't help.

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"Damn, this part of work is boring... aren't there some crackers in my desk? Or maybe I should take a stroll for coffee to the kitchen? A diet coke might be nice as well. Not, that I'm really thirsty or anything."

"Feeling pretty tensed tonight... why does this Turkish delight seem to be calling my name all of a sudden? The open package is sitting in there for a week and I didn't give a single thought about it?"

"I'm freaking tired today... no chance to squeeze a nap in though. Am I working up an appetite right now?!"

---

Some more typical examples of head hunger I think. Though external triggers are a major problem as well of course. Maybe worse than the internal ones after a while. At least sometimes I think of it this way.

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Have you watched any of Dr. Weiner's videos on YouTube? He's a bariatric surgeon who has a lot of great videos, but he said something about head hunger in one of his videos (can't remember which one now) that really bugged me. He basically said that "stomach growling" hunger feeling is just head hunger, and I was like, "B.S.!"

I am so thankful that my surgery has almost completely eliminated my hunger (so far... I know my hunger will probably return eventually). Before surgery, I felt like my stomach was a bottomless pit, and I could eat huge quantities of food and still be hungry. I tried waiting after I ate since we're always told it takes time for satiety to set in, and nope -- I would just keep getting hungrier. There were so many times that I didn't WANT to eat any more, but I was just so hungry. Sometimes I couldn't sleep because of hunger and I had to eat more just so I could sleep. And I am quite sure that this was real, physical hunger and not just in my head.

My personal theory is that this is one of the factors that makes it more difficult for some people to lose or manage their weight. I truly believe that some people are just hungrier than others, or maybe we feel hunger more strongly -- kind of like a pain threshold. People who don't have that extreme hunger can't understand why it's not as easy as it sounds to "just eat less."

Now, I will also admit to having head hunger -- eating out of boredom or habit, or because something looks delicious and I want to taste it, or I'm eating something so delicious that I want to keep eating more of it, or to treat myself to something I've been looking forward to eating -- and I still experience that sometimes. I still have times when I see something I want to eat really badly even though I know that I'm not hungry. But it is a heck of a lot easier to resist when I'm not actually, physically hungry.

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29 minutes ago, BigSue said:

I am so thankful that my surgery has almost completely eliminated my hunger (so far... I know my hunger will probably return eventually). Before surgery, I felt like my stomach was a bottomless pit, and I could eat huge quantities of food and still be hungry. I tried waiting after I ate since we're always told it takes time for satiety to set in, and nope -- I would just keep getting hungrier.

Same here - my hunger was not completely eliminated, it started to return at the around the 1 year mark. However, it is so much lower (in urgency and frequency) than before that it is totally manageable. Even when I'm truly hungry because of not having eaten all day, my body just gives me a polite "Hey, it would be nice to eat something" where before it was "FEED ME NOW!"

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17 hours ago, Creekimp13 said:

Drives me crazy when people call every kind of hunger "head hunger." Head hunger is when you've just eaten a balanced full calorie meal and you see a donut and think you want it. THAT is head hunger. Or you've just eaten the last of your maintenance calories for the day....and your husband is eating ice cream in bed and you think...damn some ice cream would be good! That's Head Hunger. Or you have a carefully balanced small piece of pizza and a salad, and you think...damn, another piece of pizza would be better than this salad....that's head hunger again. Your nutitional needs have been met, but you are craving something that you don't really need.

When you've just had surgery and you are subsisting on less than 1000 calories a day....you are HUNGRY. Like, really genuinely hungry. So hungry, in fact, that your body's needs are NOT being met by nutritional intake, so it is consuming itself.

Anytime you are losing weight, by definition....your body is genuinely hungry. Your body is so desperately hungry, in fact.....that it is eating human fat (and hopefully not muscle) to meet its fuel needs.

Lack of food and consuming body=HUNGER.

Most of us are hungry. A lot. Being in denial about it and telling people they're lying to themselves about being hungry isn't helpful.

Hunger isn't a dirty word. It's ok if we're hungry. We've got a lot of stored calories and excess flesh to consume.

But YES, I am HUNGRY when i'm losing weight. And yes, hunger sucks.

Sometimes, I think this lie worsens the pathology of food addiction. We already have enough issues with a history of lying to ourselves about food. Sometimes honesty is healthier and better.

When I lose weight...I'm freaking hungry. It sucks to feel hungry, but it's necessary. It feels good to be thinner, it feels good to be healthier, and good health is worth it. I can handle feeling hungry. Enduring hunger is part of the work. Resisting cravings is another part of the work. Two different things. Both are tough.

Describing this honestly...is a hell of a lot easier to swallow, in my opinion, than "No, you're not hungry, your head is playing tricks on you."

We know better. Lies don't help.

I'm sorry but when you're losing weight, your body is not hungry. You're losing weight because your body is using the energy and calories you take in and getting rid of what you don't need. Nine times out of ten, you are NOT actually hungry. It's head hunger. Weight loss surgery gives us all a chance to relearn our bodies and the difference between actual hunger and head hunger, between what our bodies need and what our brains crave. The truth is that our head does indeed play tricks on us, if we let it. We don't need 1000 calories to survive. It's not about calories, it's about energy, eating the food that actually fuels us, and knowing the difference.

Now some of us don't actually get hungry but we deal with head hunger, which has nothing to do with nourishing our bodies. It's to fill the chemical need of our brains. That's the truth. Get the necessary Protein. Get the fluids. Understand we need less "calories" than we think. Don't count calories. Count nutrients. Be victorious!!

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2 hours ago, GBLady41 said:

I'm sorry but when you're losing weight, your body is not hungry. You're losing weight because your body is using the energy and calories you take in and getting rid of what you don't need. Nine times out of ten, you are NOT actually hungry. It's head hunger. Weight loss surgery gives us all a chance to relearn our bodies and the difference between actual hunger and head hunger, between what our bodies need and what our brains crave. The truth is that our head does indeed play tricks on us, if we let it. We don't need 1000 calories to survive. It's not about calories, it's about energy, eating the food that actually fuels us, and knowing the difference.

Now some of us don't actually get hungry but we deal with head hunger, which has nothing to do with nourishing our bodies. It's to fill the chemical need of our brains. That's the truth. Get the necessary Protein. Get the fluids. Understand we need less "calories" than we think. Don't count calories. Count nutrients.

Some pretty steep assumptions. Like... just wow.

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Meh, to each their own. But I'm tired of lying. These surgeries fix our stomachs, not our heads. Our heads will never be well if we keep lying. And we are CHAMPION liars about food and hunger (and fitness and body image, etc.) We're also prone to extreme thinking. If it's not one extreme it's the other. I want something truthful that is moderate and sane and not so EXTREME all the time.

1000 calories a day indefinately...is eventually called an eating disorder. We can't avoid food. We need to make peace with it and be honest about it.

If we've been lying about food and hunger to ourselves, we are much more at risk of regaining or developing an eating disorder in the other direction or another addiction.....which does happen.

I'm personally not interested in an eating disorder. I'm not interested in being someone who stands in the sun and believes the energy is flowing into me. LOLOLOLOL.

I have no interest in the nonsense of "skinny, perfect, beautiful". I like how I look, and I always have. Even when I was 270 pounds.

I want to be someone who is an average weight for a woman my age...who feels strong and healthy and has excellent labs and no medications. I want a long healthy life. I want to stop the weight obsession/identity/cycle of madness.

I want to be someone who relates to food in a normal way. Someone who can enjoy everything in moderation who has the self control to stop and self regulate. Someone who doesn't think about food every minute of the day.

And I think my chances of getting there are a hell of a lot better if I'm honest. So does my bariatric therapist.

I am nearly 50, and I'm just getting this figured out after a lifetime of diets and extreme thinking. I love my moderate, normal weight.... and my moderate normal eating habits.... and my moderate normal fitness.

Here's a current pic of me. Not perfect. Moderate. Normal. But exactly who I want to be:) And yep...this chick gets HUNGRY when she's not eating 1400-1600 calories a day:)

me these days.jpg

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My head hunger is real. I can eat my little bit of food, be so full, and keep thinking that I want more. Maybe a cookie, or brownie, or pc of cake. Something that I would have eaten before surgery. Something I know I can not eat know. Something loaded with sugar. Like real ice cream. I was a huge ice cream fan, and used to eat it everyday. I also used to eat candy everyday. I would love some chocolate right now. I know if I even attempt to eat these things, I will just feel sick, and guilty. Not sure which one is worse at this point.

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4 hours ago, summerset said:

Some pretty steep assumptions. Like... just wow.

Yah. And "It's not about calories, it's about energy"? Calories are literally a unit of energy. That's what a calorie is.

cal·o·rie
/ˈkal(ə)rē/
noun
  1. 1.
    the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 gram of Water through 1 °C (now usually defined as 4.1868 joules).
  2. 2.
    the energy needed to raise the temperature of 1 kilogram of water through 1 °C, equal to one thousand small calories and often used to measure the energy value of foods.

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Part of my "head hunger" happens if I don't drink enough water/fluid. I'll feel hungry instead of thirsty. Bored hunger and emotional hunger I'd also put under there. Routine hunger I think is a thing for me too. Example being, when playing D&D I use to have Mt. Dew and ice cream every session. When I don't have anything I get hungry at that time, even if I ate not long before the session started.

But I do definitely understand that when you're eating at a calorie deficit, which you need to do to lose weight, there will be some genuine hunger there as well. A large part of the pre-op (and I expect post op) process for me is learning to listen to my body and understand when I'm actually hungry versus a variety of other things. Growing up we were a "clean your plate" household, and I think that's really messed with some of my "I'm full now" cues, which doesn't help when you add all those pesky other things like bored and emotional eating in there too.

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5 hours ago, Creekimp13 said:

I have no interest in the nonsense of "skinny, perfect, beautiful". I like how I look, and I always have. Even when I was 270 pounds.

I want to be someone who is an average weight for a woman my age...who feels strong and healthy and has excellent labs and no medications. I want a long healthy life. I want to stop the weight obsession/identity/cycle of madness.

I want to be someone who relates to food in a normal way. Someone who can enjoy everything in moderation who has the self control to stop and self regulate. Someone who doesn't think about food every minute of the day.

And I think my chances of getting there are a hell of a lot better if I'm honest. .

Can I just tell you how powerful I find what you wrote here? That is exactly how I feel, when I am on top of this thing, and not being crazy about food and all of that.

I am so grateful for the surgery, and grateful for the healthier, stronger, happier me. One reason why I don't come to this site too often is because of the dogmatic and/or shaming stuff. Like people who claim to have only eaten 400 calories a day for 6 months, and shame people who don't, or who go nuts if someone asks if post surgery people can tolerate an occasional piece of bacon or movie theater popcorn, or respond to someone who admits to struggling or (gasp!) falling off the wagon by becoming some sort of weird bariatric drill sergeant. I know that shaming, cajoling, and extreme deprivation have NEVER worked for me, and I literally cringe when I see some of that stuff on here. And I also know that the food hormones come back, and yes, I am actually hungry! And I most definitely do need 1000 calories a day; I regularly eat 12 to 1400 calories a day and I am still losing weight, albeit slowly. (I also have a thyroid disorder which has impacted the speed of my weight loss).

I am one year out, 90 pounds thinner, and still at a "fat" BMI (28); I am 62 years old, and I am not going to be entering any bathing suit competitions! I make mostly healthy food choices, I walk a lot because I like it and it is good for my mental health, and one of the things I really miss is drinking a beer. Of course....that may just be head thirst :)

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7 hours ago, SunnyinSC said:

Part of my "head hunger" happens if I don't drink enough water/fluid. I'll feel hungry instead of thirsty. Bored hunger and emotional hunger I'd also put under there. Routine hunger I think is a thing for me too. Example being, when playing D&D I use to have Mt. Dew and ice cream every session. When I don't have anything I get hungry at that time, even if I ate not long before the session started.

But I do definitely understand that when you're eating at a calorie deficit, which you need to do to lose weight, there will be some genuine hunger there as well. A large part of the pre-op (and I expect post op) process for me is learning to listen to my body and understand when I'm actually hungry versus a variety of other things. Growing up we were a "clean your plate" household, and I think that's really messed with some of my "I'm full now" cues, which doesn't help when you add all those pesky other things like bored and emotional eating in there too.

Before surgery I ate a LOT out of boredom. Hubby was always working, and I was home alone. I also had a clean the plate household. It really does mess with being full or not.

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On 2/20/2021 at 4:38 PM, Creekimp13 said:

Most of us are hungry. A lot. Being in denial about it and telling people they're lying to themselves about being hungry isn't helpful.

This board is proof. Lots of hangry people on here sometimes. 😂

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2 hours ago, HealthyLifeStyle said:

Before surgery I ate a LOT out of boredom. Hubby was always working, and I was home alone. I also had a clean the plate household. It really does mess with being full or not.

I definitely have that problem! I work from home and my hobbies are all pretty much out of the home as well. Bored eating is alive and well. I do notice I do it less when I really focus on getting my Water in though. Am super hoping that with a combination of the surgery and behavioral therapy, I can kick the habit. 🤞

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