E is for Emergency

E is for Emergency.

I really wish I could remember which blogger wrote a post about how “Hunger is NOT an emergency” because I wanted to plug it here. That post really resonated with me; it was a lightbulb moment for me. I thought, “YEAH! Hunger is NOT an emergency!” So why do I treat it like one?

Recently Lori discussed her thoughts on hunger and I related to that post too.  She talked about how she often has to wait an hour in order to feel “full” after eating before she decides if she needs second helpings. My post is about several things. First: HUNGER IS NOT AN EMERGENCY and second: I eat too fast.

When I was 250 pounds I wasn’t ever really hungry. It’s not like I ate all the time because I didn’t. I know that’s sometimes a stereotype about obese people but it was not case. I didn’t eat all the time but I definitely ate TOO MUCH all the time. I ate about three meals a day–breakfast, lunch, dinner plus I was a snacker. I wasn’t a constant snacker but if I ever felt a twinge I’d eat something.

Tackling the hunger while losing 100 pounds was surprisingly a lot easier than I had expected it to be. After I reached my daily calorie limit the kitchen was closed. I had surprising steel willpower (that I never knew I had before) and to tackle the hunger pains I started splitting up my food throughout the day. Instead of eating 3 meals, I ate 5. I’d save something from my lunch to eat as a snack later. Smaller meals, more frequently helped me a lot ad it’s something I still do now. I also drank water or sparkling water (which helped a LOT) whenever I thought I was hungry.

After I lost the weight and was working out a lot–training for races–I started to have the Hunger Emergencies. For me I wasn’t eating the right kind of food for a long time (bananas for example) and I was crashing hard. This caused me to go into a frenzy. I’d be irritable, cranky, jittery, foggy, I couldn’t make a decision to save my life, and the only thing I could think about was food. It was an EMERGENCY.

The feeling is uncomfortable. My stomach feels hollow, my moods radically change. It feels desperate. And I hate that. It’s hard for me to pull the plug on my hunger emergency and be calm and rational. I need to realize that it is NOT the end of the world, I’m not going to die if I wait 30 more minutes to eat.

It’s funny–I can go from zero (“I’m okay) to 100 (“MUST EAT NOW!!!!!!!!!!!”) in about 5 minutes. It’s like when the hunger kicks in it kicks in full-throttle instead of a gradual creep of hollowness.

One of the ways I tried to battle the emergency hunger was to carry snacks with me. I rarely eat them but just having them handy seems to make me feel better. I have snacks in my desk at work (to hopefully keep me from the Candy Room). I have snacks in my car for after the gym.

Car Snacks

I carry a small protein bar in my purse and in my gym bags. Sometimes it feels silly to carry snacks with me but it seems to work.

How I Stop the Hunger Emergency

1. Drink a ton of water and sparkling water (the carbonation helps my brain think it’s full instead of wanting to snack).

2. Eat slower. I eat too fast. But if I slow it down it helps.

3. I eat smaller, more frequent meals instead of three big ones.

4. I eat one of my snacks right before I work out because I know I’ll be famished when I’m done and getting into that “frenzy” mentality if I don’t.

5. Keep small snacks handy (like a tiny ziplock bag with nuts in your purse) just in case.

6. Eat smarter! For example, eating beans with breakfast has made an amazing difference in my hunger issues. So has not eating bananas as much and trying to limit my sugar.

7. I eat more satisfying foods. I found that I was hungrier after eating processed foods than when I ate whole foods.

8. Remind myself that it is “not an emergency.”

QUESTION: Is hunger an emergency for you? How do you tackle that?


A-Abstinence * B-Balance * C-Calories * D-Vitamin D *

Author: Lisa Eirene

About Lisa Eirene Lisa lost 110 pounds through calorie counting and exercise. She swims, bikes, runs, hikes and is enjoying life in Portland, Oregon. Her weight loss story has been featured in First Magazine, Yahoo Health, Woman's Day and Glamour.com.

14 thoughts on “E is for Emergency”

  1. My hunger often feels like a primadonna. I had it under control for a while, but got comfortable in my ways. I would identify if I was hungry, how hungry I was, the last time I ate, and why I was hungry. Sometimes it was legitimate, other times it was clear my blood sugar was crashing. There was at least one occasion when I was indelibly angry and I ended up locking myself in my room for two hours until I could tell I wasn’t hungry because I was mad, but because I was legitimately hungry.
    Lily Fluffbottom recently posted..Day One- A New Beginning

    1. Yes, it’s a very different thing for me too–boredom “hunger”, “real hunger” and “I’m crashing give me something anything!” Once we recognize the differences it’s easier to make better choices.

  2. Heh, I was just thinking about my fear of hunger last night and planning to write a blog post about it. Your posts are always so timely for me!

    I really, really struggle with this and it’s one of the main reasons why I have a hard time with my weight. I can go from normal to HANGRY in a matter of minutes, and I often end up with a migraine if I don’t eat soon enough (blood sugar issues?)…so now I’m just terrified of feeling any kind of hunger because I think there’s a migraine coming on, and I end up eating too often and snacking too much.

    1. Yes! When you have negative “side effects” from crashing it makes you never want to experience that again…so you eat more, or more often and give in to any hunger pain that happens. It’s a hard cycle to break. When I crash I get the shakes, feel nauseated, I can’t make decisions, I’m irritable. It’s not a fun experience!

      Lately I’ve had some dried apricots on hand after the gym and eating one or two of those has helped A LOT!

  3. Oh my gosh this is so true. I am often panicked about my hunger too and feel like it’s emergency. I also carry snacks just in case. I often live on the edge of hunger all the time so if I suddenly get really really hunger I freak out.

    Thanks so much for this reminder Lisa Eirene. I need to follow all of your points and especially, drink more water, snack before workouts and eat more whole foods.

    Samantha recently posted..Wear- Christmas party attire

  4. I’ve found the time when hungry starts screaming at me the loudest is right after a workout. But if I eat something (usually a half a peanut butter sandwich) say an hour before I head to the gym, it’s nowhere near as bad when I get done. Not to say it isn’t bad, because it is, but I can solve that too. I keep a bottle of water in my car, so as soon as I walk out of the gym, I start on the bottle of water. By the time I drive the three miles to my house, the bottle is empty. I start another bottle, and by halfway through, the raging maniac of appetite has settled down and I can calmly and rationally start planning my dinner.

    If I skip out on either of those things though- I’m pretty much out of control.
    Deb recently posted..Day 23 – 241

    1. For me it’s right after the workout too. I’ve been forever trying to find the PERFECT food combination to eat right before working out and it’s hard. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t. It’s a mystery.

  5. Hunger is not a physical emergency for me any longer, although if I get too hungry I can find myself foraging like a black bear in someone’s kitchen. I find that if I get that hungry I need to remind myself that those types of behaviors are what got me in trouble all those years ago. Great post!
    Diane Fit to the Finish recently posted..Family Fitness Made Simple

  6. OMG – Yes! I go from zero to starved in 5 minutes too! That is always VERY dangerous for me. I’m better…. I try “not” to approach the ‘starve’ zone… but my hunger signals have decades of being so messed up. I was a non-clinical-undereater – I would go LONG periods of time not eating and never be hungry. But little by little, by trying to fuel regularly, my signals are better.
    Healthy snacks are key. Prepped meals are key. For me anyway.
    Thanks Lisa!
    Kris @Krazy_Kris recently posted..Mobility Warm Up – My New Favorite | The Reluctant Exerciser

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