Ep8: Are you Hangry or Just Hungry?

Episode Description:

The one where we talk how getting Hangry is one big myth, the tool for learning what real hunger feels like, and tried and true strategies, backed up by research, to eating only when hungry, and losing weight permanently.
Feeling really frisky today!

Episode Show Notes:

Building on our fundamentals of weight loss discussions. We are diving into what Hunger is. How do we define it and how can we gauge it.
You’ll learn about the hunger scale, an easy-to-use fuel gauge that you may not see, but will learn to feel.
The hunger scale goes from -10 to +10.
If you eat 5-6 meals per day, eat from -2 to +2.
If you eat 2-3 meals per day, eat from -4 to +4.
We also discuss what getting hangry is all about, and more importantly, how it is is largely not real.
Learning to step away from hangry means we have to deal with the negative emotions that come to the surface when we allow our bodies to feel physiological hunger.
And lastly, the importance of food journaling, even though no one really wants to do it.
When you food journal, you want to:
  1. How did you feel when you ate.
  2. Where were you on the hunger scale when you started?
  3. How do you know that’s where you were on the scale? Describe how it felt in your body.
  4. If it is a meal, how many bites did it take for you to get to zero? To positive 2? To positive 4?
Food Journaling apps:
This Week’s Action Item:
Use the hunger scale to begin a practice of food journaling.
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Episode Transcription:

Hello hello hello! Happy Tuesday everyone! How is your week going so far?
Just a forewarning, I’m feeling a little frisky this episode. As I mentioned last week, I am all kinds of verklempt, as my boys start school tomorrow and my stepdaughter moves to college on Thursday. How do I have children old enough start college when I’m pretty sure I’m still in my 20s? The 90s were just, like, a few years ago, right? Oh my goodness, how is it even possible.
I think back on this summer, and I think, where did the days go? Every summer, we try to hit a few of the big St. Louis attractions and definitely get at least a one week vacation in, and that just didn’t happen for us this summer.
In fact, my son turned 11 in May, right at the end of the school year and right as we were putting our house on the market. And we’re having a birthday party for him…this weekend! Almost three months later!
Moving pretty much consumed our lives these past few months. I suspect my kids don’t really know and don’t care – they played and watched TV and learned way more about video games than this Momma probably would care to admit. But I am pretty sure they think Summer was just fine.
I was thinking about that this weekend, and how this is another great example of how circumstances are just the facts, neither good nor bad. My family all experienced the same summer, but we all have different thoughts about how it went down.
Here, you would see that the circumstance is that the Lattas moved, did not see any St. Louis attractions, and did not go on a family vacation.
I think that means I wasn’t a very good mom, which makes me feel disappointed. Which may lead to overeating or buffering in some way.
But my kids think that means they got play a lot more video games and do whatever they wanted. Which makes them feel pretty happy! So no negative thought and feelings on their end.
This is why, especially with our kiddos, it’s so important to make sure that we don’t project our thoughts and feelings onto other people. We need to allow other people to experience their own thoughts and feelings about what’s going on.
And how super awesome is it to teach that to our kids from a young age – that they have control over how they think and feel and that others have the same control for themselves. No one can make you feel anything. Years of angst could be avoided by learning from such a young age how we, and we alone, are responsible for how we think and feel.
When I was thinking about how to tie that into talking about the basics of how we lose weight, it reminded me of how we really mess with hunger from a very young age. Because we give food to our kids for all of those different reasons we talked about in the last episode. So by the time they are adults, they don’t really know what real hunger even feels like, and their brains think it’s totally normal to eat for all of those different reasons.
And we have then become adults who, if they are trying to lose weight, have to retrain our brains on what real hunger even feels like. Imagine learning about this stuff when you were younger!
So I wanted to introduce you to the idea of the hunger scale today. Last week we talked about the difference between emotional and physical hunger. Now, here’s a tool for you to really learn how to tune into your body and not just think about it, but actually put a number on it.
Most scales are on a scale of 1 to 10, tell me how hungry you are. But I like a hunger scale that goes from negative 10 to a positive 10. -10 is the hungriest you have ever imagined feeling, and +10 is the most full you can imagine feeling.
Zero is neutral, and I like starting from there. You are neither hungry nor full. You just are. Believe it or not, this is where our body wants to be most of the time. That’s it natural, neutral state. When we start from zero, it’s easier to quantify a little hungry or a little full. A lot hungry or a lot full. Plus or minus. And the larger scale, from -10 to +10, allows you to learn the nuances of your body at each number. You will learn the difference between a negative one and a negative three as you get better at tuning into how your body feels at different numbers along the scale.
We often spend most of our time on the right side of that scale, the positive side, in various places of fullness. That’s because we eat so often and rarely allow our bodies to feel real, physiological hunger. It has become normal that we start eating at a positive 2 and keep eating to, say, a positive 6, and then stay within that range for most of our lives. Yes..our entire lives in a constant state of some sort of fullness.
We are going to have an entire episode on hunger hormones, but for now, just know that always staying in the positive keeps our insulin levels high all the time, and makes it incredibly hard to lose weight. When insulin is high, your body stores fat, not burns it. If you want to lose weight, it has to be able to burn fat.
Also, when we spend most of our lives in the positive, the handful of times we allow ourselves into the negative zone – even a negative 1 – we completely panic! We are so familiar with being constantly full, our bodies and our brains freak the fuck out! Our bodies lose their shit, and we think the only solution is to eat.
Confession time: I used to get so Hangry. You know that point when extreme hunger turns to intense anger? I would tell my husband, especially on long car rides, “if I tell you I am hungry, you better get me to food, or watch out. You don’t know the can of whoop ass I will unleash on you in this car if you don’t get me something to eat.” It became a joke, but it really wasn’t funny.
I would start to feel hungry, and within 15-30 minutes, I was sure I was going to die. Just like cranky Betty White in those Snickers commercials. And, since we were traveling, it was usually gas station food that Trey would get me to, so it might have just been a Snickers bar that tamed my hangry.
So what if I told you thathangryis a myth.
Mmmmm. No she didn’t! Amy of just a few years ago would slap my face and tell me shut up right now! Probably because she was so damn hangry!
And I was so easily thrown into hangry because I never allowed myself to feel real hunger. And here’s the shocking truth. Hunger is not an emergency. It is caused by hormonal reactions. This is basic biology and chemistry here.
Our hormones may be off – again, lots of discussion of hormones coming up in future episodes. But this is not a big deal. We can reset our hormones. We can allow ourselves to feel hunger.
In fact, in order to reset our hormones, we have to allow ourselves to feel hunger so that our body even remembers what if feels like.
And no, our body does not like it. Our brain hates it even more.
“We are all going to die! Get me to food now!”
That’s Hangry. Our brains freaking out. It’s the touch of real hunger we dare to allow our bodies to feel, mixed the intense emotions ofthinkingwe are all going to die!
It’s not real. Hangry is just our brain throwing a toddler tantrum in the restaurant until we give it what it wants.
I know! Even right now, talking about this, that Amy that indulged in Hanger for almost 40 years still thinks I might just be crazy! Hahaha!
But I know that I am not.
Wanna know how I know you are not listening to the ravings a lunatic mind?
Because I can’t remember the last time I was hangry.
True freakin’ story.
I just don’t even experience it any more.
Because I allowed myself to get in touch with my hunger by using the hunger scale. I explored the negative side of the hunger scale – that area I dare not ever go in before. I not only allowed myself to feel physiological hunger – and sat it in and noticed it and recognized it for what it was. Not an emergency, simply a biological experience.
And I also dealt with the emotions of hunger. Because when you explore the negative side of the hunger scale, you are going to see what comes up. All that emotional shit we’ve buried with food comes up. This is the real work of coaching – helping clients process the negative crap that rises to the surface when we remove eating for all of those reasons other than real hunger. When you stop buffering with food.
For some people, this is terrifying. I hear you. I feel you. Right now, I’m just asking you to be open to it.
For others, it will merely be difficult. Ha! Right! Very few people will find this super easy. There are emotional and physical reasons for this, but doing this work – exploring that negative side of the hunger scale – will reveal your relationship with food. And you have to do that if you want to make your relationship with food better!
Remember, improving your relationship with food is how you can lose weight permanently, without always having to “go on a diet!”
Lean in, ya’ll – there reason diets don’t work is because 99.9% of them don’t work on improving your relationship with food. It just takes it away and your toddler brain freaks the eff out.
So, rather than just plummet you into torture here on the podcast, just know that it is important to explore this scale within your body. Imagine that the hunger scale is the fuel gauge to your car. You cannot see it, but you can feel it. In order for us to get a good read on it, we have to practice feeling it and make sure it is calibrated.
Remember that zero is neutral. You are neither hungry nor full.
A negative 1 is just a whisper of hunger, while a negative 2 is feeling a little bit hungry, and a negative four is grumbling in the stomach and you would like to eat. You are not going to die, but let’s get some grub. And, of course, a -10 is a hunger like you’ve never felt before.
Looking at the positive side of the scale, a plus two is just to that satisfied point, and a plus four is a nice, full feeling. If you ate one more bite, it would just tip you into the not-quite-as-nice full feeling. You could easily take a walk around the block at a plus 4, but we aren’t going for a run. And a plus 10 is like third and fourth helpings and then a few desserts at Thanksgiving kind of full. It’s complete misery!
In this episode, we are not necessarily talking about protocols – how much and how often and what foods to eat. There are definitely positives and negatives to eating 5-6 meals a day and positives and negatives to eating 2-3 meals a day. In future episodes, we will not only address hunger hormones, but how many meals per day, calories and macros, insulin resistance, sugar, flour, intermittent fasting, should you eat this, or that. All good stuff ahead.
But for now, if you eat 5-6 meals a day, then you want to eat from -2 to a +2 on the hunger scale. And if you eat 2-3 meals a day, then you want to eat from a -4 to a +4.
You will be amazed how long it takes you go to from the positive side to the negative side. Probably much longer than you are expecting. But if you aren’t used to eating per the scale, your brain and body may freak out when it gets to the negative.
Remember that you are OK. You are not in danger. That is just hunger. Maybe a little sugar withdrawal.
It is highly unlikely you are experiencing true low blood sugar, because that is actually a very rare diagnosis. We, as a society, have just decided anytime you haven’t eaten in a while and you start to feel terrible, that’s “low blood sugar.” Actually, it’s mostly our toddler brains throwing a tantrum.
You will also be surprised how little food it takes to get back into the positive side of things. Really slow down and tune into how your body feels as you chew each bite. A really interesting practice is to think about where you are on this hunger scale with each bite. Just like sitting in your car and watching the gas gauge slowly move as you pump gas, you will feel that fuel gauge move along the hunger scale if you slow down long enough to feel food’s affect on your body.
This isconsciouseating. We do so much unconscious eating – eating out of habit and boredom and other places of emotion. When we bring this level of consciousness to our eating, it is very hard to overeat. And it is much easier to lose weight, not just in the short term, but in the long term.
This is also why I am not a calories in and calories out kind of girl. When you are focused on calories, you aren’t focused on how your body actually feels with each bite. First of all, a plate of broccoli and a plate of donuts – offering the same amount of calories – will not do the same thing once inside your body. And this idea that A portion is this big and this many calories, so you eat it. How do you know that’s what your unique body really needs? The only way to know for sure how much you should eat is by gauging where you are on the hunger scale and the only way to do that is to pay attention. Awareness!
So when thinking about an action item for the week, I’m going to also introduce the food journal. Ah, yes, I hear the collective groaning out there now! I won’t lie. I have clients that refuse to food journal. And that is always their choice. Everything is always your choice.
But research shows time and again that people who food journal lose weight faster and keep it off longer. Because you are paying attention. If you eat all the time, you’ll be journaling all the time. And ain’t no one got time for that! I also know that food journals don’t lie. We’re gonna find that extra fuel. I never ever look at a food journal from a place of judgement, because that is not the point. A journal is just a log. Just like the circumstance I shared with you at the start of this episode, the Latta Family’s Summer of 2017, it is neither good nor bad. You always have a choice in how you think about it. Which is super awesome! You do not have to think badly about what’s in your food journal, no matter what it says!
And food journals work. Period. You write down every single eat, drink, and lick. Yes, even that cracker you ate when packing lunches. And that cookie the client offered you at the business meeting. Yep, even that one. And that lick of ice cream off your kid’s cone after soccer practice. Remember – we established this as a Judgement Free Zone, my LattaLuvs. Always. There is no beating ourselves up. Not allowed.
In your food journal, rather than focusing on calories, focus instead on…how did you feel when you ate that?
Where were you on the hunger scale when you started? How do you know that’s where you were on the scale? Describe how it felt in your body.
If it is a meal, how many bites did it take for you to get to zero? To positive 2? To positive 4?
Listen, you can start to lose weight just by thinking about the hunger scale in your head every time you eat. And the food journal just adds to the long term success of it.
I highly recommend a small notebook or a notes app on your phone. I get asked a lot if it’s okay to use My Fitness Pal or Lose It or a similar app. And I have mixed emotions, I won’t lie. My concern with apps like that is they focus on calories and portion sizes. And not on emotions. Plus, I recommend a higher fat meal plan to most of my clients and My Fitness App does not like that at all! The week I used it, it yelled at me every time I logged in that I was eating too many calories from fat. Which is bullshit, by the way – but dietary fat, like all those other items I mentioned, is a topic for another day.
There are apps that let you focus on your emotions while eating, like Recovery Record and Rise Up – and I LOVE those because it only focuses on emotions and not on calories. They are also eating disorder recovery apps, and some people are turned off by that because most of us are not struggling with a truly diagnosed eating disorder. I promise you can use those apps and not have an eating disorder and still get huge benefit from them!
Either way, use one off those apps if you would like, with the caveats that I’ve given. And understand that a notebook and pen work great, also. I tell my clients to upload a snapshot of the food journal each day in our online forum or screen shot their journal if they are using a note app.
By the way, if I haven’t mentioned it already, I put everything into Evernote. It’s my favorite app of ever. The notes for every single Business Women Losing Weight episode are in Evernote. Recipes, brainstorms, business contacts, scanned documents, and food journals. And I get nothing for telling you that – though, if you’re listening, Evernote, feel free to send me a credit for my Premiere Account!
But I digress. Food Journaling. Your action item this week, at least in your head, but preferably on paper, is to jot down everything you eat. And note how you felt and where you were on the hunger scale.
You will start losing weight just by doing that. Why?
Becauseawareness. You will not longer be unconsciously eating! I mean, hopefully you are not unconsciously eating right now, passed out in bed and yet somehow with a functioning arm bringing chippies from bag to mouth!
Conscious eating is the heart of business women losing weight. Learning to tune into your body and tune into real hunger, and making hangry a thing of the past.
If the thought of dealing with all that emotional shit that comes up when you eat only when hungry terrifies you, I invite you to schedule your free-mini session with me. No strings attached, 20-30 minutes on the phone with me to see what coaching is like. I’ll let you know if I think I can help you and you get to decide if it is a fit for you. Either way, you walk away with a tool you can use right away to navigate that negative side of the hunger scale.
Each week, I only take five free sessions so I still have plenty of time for my regular clients, so don’t get put on the wait list – visit AmyLatta.com/coaching now to schedule your call.
And lastly, my friends, in the one month since we went live, I already have over 1200 downloads and 23 reviews. You are the awesome-est! Please keep sharing! Share this episode with someone you know who struggles with getting hangry or with overeating. Let them know there is another way and there’s a tribe of Grown Ass Women on their side.
Alright, my LattaLuvs, You have been listening to Business Women Losing Weight with life and weight coach Amy Latta. And until Next Week…let’s go do Epic Stuff.

About Amy Latta

Amy Latta is a life coach helping female entrepreneurs lose weight. Some entrepreneurs struggle with not enough time and not enough energy, and are so laser focused on growing their businesses, they sacrifice their health – not realizing their personal health is imperative to the health of their business. Women hire Amy to help them get an extra hour or two back in their day while figureing out why they don’t do what they say they’re going to do.
The result being more time, more energy, and weight loss.
When she’s not building her own business, you can usually find Amy on her yoga mat or experimenting in the kitchen. When in doubt, bring her guacamole.

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