A 45-year-old fat man trying to find his inner skinny dude.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

What's Wrong with Hunger?

I see ads all the time for things that are intended as appetite suppressants. You won't be hungry, so you'll eat less, lose weight, have a great life, etc.

I don't think they work. By this I don't mean that they won't make you stop feeling hunger. They may. But physical hunger is not the problem for most people.

If you read other blogs--Theantijared (linked at the side) is a good example--what you'll find is that people who get really big are not eating because they are physically hungry--tummies rumbling, etc. They eat because there's some kind of emotional hunger that they're using food to deal with. They could be alcoholics or heroin addicts, but they're using food. I have used food in this way. Sometimes I still want to, but--so far--I've been good about not doing that. (I hope it lasts.)

Case in point. I have a friend whose dad is about 54 years old. He was, in his youth, a thin guy. He's 6'2", and was around 200 pounds when he was in his twenties. As of a year ago, he was 585. That makes his basal metabolic rate (BMR) something around 4300 calories a day. BMR is a measure of what your body will burn just to sustain itself (i.e. if you were in a coma). I'm here to tell you, 4300 calories is a lot of food. My own BMR today is about 2681, and I'm over 300 pounds. That's plenty of food for anyone.

I have heard/read from more than once source that if you eat your BMR every day, you'll lose weight, because the activity of the day puts you over that. I believe it. So my friend's dad could eat 4300 calories and lose weight. He isn't. He's eating more. So here's the question. Why?

Is he physically hungry? I doubt it. Forty-three hundred calories is about 74 WW points. I could calculate the equivalent in food, but I'll just say this: that's about four and a half pounds of chicken a day (if he were eating only chicken). It's a lot of food.

I think he doesn't eat for hunger. I think he eats for other reasons. Maybe just because it's good. But not for physical hunger. (In fact, the only real issue I have with WW is that one is required to eat all of one's points every day. I understand why. You don't want to eat less than your BMR, or your body will think it's starving and start to waste muscle. The metabolism also slows down. But I want to get out of the habit of eating when I'm not hungry, so if at the end of the day I have points left, it's a struggle.)

Drugs that suppress appetite are not going to help my friend's dad. They're not going to help me. For my whole life, actual physical hunger has been secondary to whether I eat or not. I think it is for most people who have weight problems.

What's wrong with hunger, anyway? It's uncomfortable and distracting, yes. But that's all. At least, that's all here in the US where food of all kinds is plentiful. (I'm not talking about people who can't afford food. Though being poor can make you fat if you can only afford cheap, bad-for-you food like 50 cent frozen burritos.) So hunger.

I used to eat too much food (and I still think about doing this all the time) because I didn't want to get too hungry before the next meal. But, where ever I am, I can get more food. The key, for me, is to have food on hand that I want. I'm not talking about chips (though Pop Chips are great). I'm talking about fruit, maybe yogurt or milk, and, in a pinch, a Fiber One bar. (I'm not advertising--just saying what works for me.) These things help me stave off physical hunger. I don't want french fries for that.

Sometimes I just want to eat. Hunger has nothing to do with it. Yesterday was like that. I was agitated and wanted to eat. I was driving, so boredom probably had something to do with that. Usually, I can wait and the feeling will pass. If I'm going to eat, I get something that's not too horrible. Pop Chips, baked chips, beef jerky (high in sodium, low in everything else), a V8. Things that will keep me occupied but will be within my points. Cross your fingers.

Also, here are some pix. I love seeing pictures on others' blogs, so here are mine. I block out the eyes because I feel shy about it. First one is me at my biggest. Second one is me a few weeks ago. Again, so far so good.

1 comment:

  1. Wow, you have made a lot of progress! Big difference in the photos (but I have to tease you - the recent one looks like you took it in a public restroom - am I right? :)

    You are absolutely right about hunger vs. overeating. It's not about hunger. I'm just coming to terms with this myself, and it's a struggle. It's all a lot deeper and more complicated than I realized, once I admitted to myself I was eating emotionally. It's a real rat's nest inside my head!

    Congratulations on your loss, you are rocking that suit jacket!