Emotional Hunger

by Andie Mitchell on March 22, 2011

I had an intense fear of hunger. A few years of dieting coupled with losing 135lbs will do that to you. Most evident at night, right before I settled in for shut eye, when my body wouldn’t need, say, a boatload of energy to dream about Leonardo DiCaprio (or would it?), I thought that my bedtime snack should be substantial. At that point, I’d already eaten dinner, already smiled my way through dessert and a cup of chamomile tea, already told Daniel that my heart just couldn’t love anything or anyone more than two of my homemade, warm chocolate chip cookies, paired with a DVR’ed episode of The View (only if Barbara’s there).

welcome to belltown

But at that point, usually somewhere around 10pm, as I was about to creep under the covers to catch a few winks, I always needed something more. A feeling of, “I’m nervous of this feeling of fullness going away.”

A few months ago, I realized the thought process was silly. Because there is always a kitchen ten feet away. Always an apple, cereal, more chocolate chip cookies, for when the food supply resting in my belly dwindles. But still, I think, ‘hmmm, I should have a bowl of peanut butter oatmeal. Maybe peanut butter toast. No, that’s it, peanut butter and fluff.’ Are you getting the sense that I have some sort of problem with peanut butter? Because that’s completely untrue. How dare you.

seattle space needle

Anywho, I’d end up eating a peanut butter and fluff sandwich before bed every night. And let me be clear: there ain’t a darn thing wrong about that. The problem lies not in the food or the fact that I sported a marshmallow fluff mustache as I kissed Daniel goodnight, no, the problem lies in the feeling of fear that led me to a meal roughly the size of breakfast, before bed.

I’ve told you all before, several hundred trillion times, that peanut butter and fluff sandwiches are my favorite thing to eat. Favorite.Thing.To.Eat. Get it down. But I don’t like eating anything if it is spurred by an emotion other than what Homer Simpson would identify as, “Nom nom nom.” I like to eat because things taste positively delicious. Because they’re exactly what I’m craving, exactly at the right time. See: chocolate chip cookies and The View, above.

pike place market

What I realized about myself, is that this slight fear of feeling hungry almost always right before bed, was something more. It was a remnant of my days filling myself so full I couldn’t feel. I liked that sensation of, “Ooo boy my belly is packed to capacity.” Because I subconsciously knew that fullness meant fullness in other parts of my life too. Here’s where I’ll get a little abstract, a little out there, but hear me out.

I’m a people pleaser. The type who probably comes across as extroverted and sunny and light. I spend mornings, days, and early evenings, trying to radiate positive energy, becoming totally absorbed in interactions with others, really just giving life my absolute all. It’s part of my wish to never have regrets. I like to live fully. Give it all I’ve got.

green plants

So at the end of the day, I feel drained. I feel as though I’ve got to take something back for myself. And to this day, food is my first instinct to meet that end. It’s probably the instinct of millions of others. We’re a bit conditioned and soothed to recognize food as comfort, food as love, food as that pleasure we give to ourselves. Phrases like “indulge your senses” in just about every commercial, especially those targeting women, make it seem as though the highest form of pleasure that you can give to yourself is in the form of something yummy. It’s ‘me time.’ It’s ‘you’ve given everything you have to the world, now give back to yourself with this chocolate mousse.’ I should preface this talk with: I really and truly do think food is of the highest order of pleasure. I always will. But it isn’t really the comforting friend, the great listener, the gentle unwinder that we pray it will be. We’re told it will be.

So at night, when I feel zapped of energy, when I feel like I’ve done a lot for others, and maybe tried too hard to make life a bit sunnier for other people, to make them laugh (mostly at me- and for good reason), when I’ve given it all away, I’m left with a body and mind that needs restoring.

Recharging. Love. Attention. Gobs of affection.

And after two decades as a very (stress: very) big person who ate for every.reason.under.the.sun., peanut butter and fluff sandwiches, chocolate chip cookies, peanut butter oatmeal, they all whispered rejuvenation to me. It took years for this notion to go away.

Even after I had maintained my 135lb weight loss for four years, I still held that second bedtime meal as a mainstay in my life. I’d go out to eat at a restaurant, I’d eat dessert, and still, no matter how full I felt, no matter how much time stood between awake and asleep, I just.had.to eat something. And not just anything, something hearty. Something that really sticks to the ribs. In December, I left Seattle and went home to Massachusetts for the month. My brother got married on the 1st, and with Christmas not far off, I stayed and worked remotely. It was lovely. Just lovely.

be the change

The first few days I was home, I wasn’t in my groove. My usual nightly ritual. I was doing different things, I was chatting with my parents ’til the wee hours of the morning, I was blowing raspberries on my pug’s belly. I didn’t have the peanut butter and fluff or the peanut butter oatmeal like I had only days earlier in Seattle.

We went out to eat, we came home to cupcakes, and we spent hours being obscene before bed. Hours without eating just to eat. And what I realized was, ‘oh, it’s not about the food or the hunger.’ It’s about filling myself, my time, and my mind with something that I want to mean so much more.’

What in the sam hell does all of this mean?

pike place market glass stand

My weight had always stayed the same. The peanut butter and fluff or whatever three meals I managed to munch between dinner and dreaming didn’t affect my waist, didn’t make me regain even a pound I’d lost, so what did it matter that I needed them?
Well, it matters. It matters if the underlying reason I ate was not hunger, but in the name of giving back to myself at the end of the day. It matters if food is the most joyous part of my evening. If salty peanut butter and sweet sweet fluff, likely as dense a meal as lunch, is what I looked forward most. If I felt I simply couldn’t, simply wouldn’t go to bed without a stuffed stomach. It mattered that even though I might have been craving more cookies, I ate a sandwich just because I knew it would last longer. It would feel more filling than, say, oreos. The hunger wasn’t real, but the desire was.

virginia street

What I’ve learned from this, other than that I am able to pen a novel about the abstraction of my relationship to food and that you (poor you) are forced to read it, is that I am not starving at night. I’m not going to go hungry if I eat two slices of meatloaf, a baked potato with sour cream, and half a plate of roasted broccoli, and then two palm sized chocolate chip cookies with a cup of tea, and then relax for an hour before I settle in bed with my laptop to read The Pioneer Woman.

I realized that, “Uh, hey Andrea, yeah there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you…umm..you know that room with the green tile and the big silver box that keeps things cold? Yeah, well, funny thing, ha, that’s what’s called a kitchen. Like ‘bitchin!,’ only with a ka-sound. And you can go ‘head and get a bite to eat any ol’ time you feel a drip drop of hunger. So, like, no need to binge out of fear, K?”

K.

What about you? When are you hungriest?

{ 69 comments… read them below or add one }

Sara March 22, 2011 at 11:31 pm

Andrea. I have no words. Absolutely no words. The timing of this post is unbelievable.
I am just about to settle into bed and made one of my snack items that I usually eat right before bed. I had a banana with some peanut butter. I waited about 15 minutes before making it… to try and see if I was truly hungry and then finally gave in. However, 15 minutes later I started to feel the same ‘hunger’ feeling. I thought… “Could I truly really be hungry again? Or did I just think I was hungry?”
I, too, find that I am always scared of getting hungry before bed. I then came on here and you basically explained to me all of my feelings.. and I now understand myself more. Tomorrow I will watch this and instead fill my night with my loved ones, a good movie, chat with a friend, or a book.
Thank you for being so amazing. I don’t know how you do it.
I’m honestly starting to think you have some sort of superpower.
Sara.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 7:19 am

Ah Sara, you have already made my morning! Thank you. And thanks for relating to me in so many ways :)

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Idara March 22, 2011 at 11:47 pm

I also get scared of being hungry. I’ve even convinced myself that by waiting out my hunger first (rather than heading to the nearest snack), I’ve given myself an ulcer.
Thank you so much for this piece. It is inspirational.

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Halley March 23, 2011 at 1:01 am

I love love love this!
I’ve recently come to the realization that I totally am afraid of being hungry. I overeat to feel safe from that feeling of uncertainty and anxiousness.
Thanks so much for putting this into words. This really helps.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:33 am

Thank you Halley. I agree, anxiety is a big trigger for me.

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Sharon March 23, 2011 at 1:38 am

Thank you for writing this post, especially now. I’m feeling the exact same way and know what triggered it. Yet, I chose to go online at 1:30 am (chewing a piece of gum that tastes like mint chocolate chip) instead of gorging in a futile attempt to numb my anxieties. As a recovering food addict, I know I’ll feel that initial impulse to (ab)use food as an anesthetic from time to time. Figuring out the difference between “impulse” and “mindless eating” (without berating myself for feeling the former) probably helped me morph my body from obesity to a “normal” BMI range. Most of all, your post reassured me that I’m perfectly imperfect and that I don’t need to “get over it.”

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:34 am

Thanks Sharon. I think that just knowing that this is a shared, common experience is so heartening. Makes me feel less crazy :)

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johnny March 23, 2011 at 3:11 am

OK! YOU’VE FOUND ME OUT!! I’ve been wondering WHY do I need to have that snack at night before bed while reading that last chapter. I know I’m not hungry and i know I don’t NEED it but if I don’t get it I crave it until I fall asleep tossing and turning. That has been the toughest time for me while trying to loose this weight. I think your blog has hit the nail on the head. OK now that I’ve (you’ve) identified the problem, How do I stop craving the foooooooddddd!?! :) :( :)

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:35 am

Thank you Johnny! In time, I’ll reveal all my very deep/very very very wordy answers to your questions! Did I mention they’re very wordy? :)

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Alicia from Poise in Parma March 23, 2011 at 4:30 am

I swear, the more I read your blog, the more I think we are separated at birth. I’ve struggled with the same issue: giving it my all all day long and not feeling fulfilled with life at the end of the day. I fill that void with popcorn (my late night snack of choice). I usually am hungry around 9PM when I get my snack on, but sometimes it’s not hunger driving my eating.

I don’t know why I give so much power to that 9PM snack, but I should refocus that energy to the self care that I need instead. Again, thank you for your wonderful words.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:37 am

Ha, I used to loooooove popcorn at night. In fact, it’s what I ate towards the end of my weight loss, every single night. I even bought an air popper. And then melted 2 tablespoons of butter for the top :)

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Bunny March 23, 2011 at 5:02 am

As I was reading this post, I felt as though it was coming right out of my mind. I’ve never heard anyone express so clearly what I have been feeling, and not knowing that I’m feeling it. I am also afraid of being hungry, and I have questioned myself about that many times because we have so much. My freezer and refrigerator are an indication that I fear hunger – I could live in my apartment for six months and never go hungry. Thank you for putting this in perspective for me.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:39 am

Thank YOU for relating Bunny. It means a lot to know that we’ve all gone through the same types of things. I, too, stock my house as though I’m feeding a family of four(teen).

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Lauren at Keep It Sweet March 23, 2011 at 5:56 am

This is an incredible post. Do you still have nights where you want that pb & fluff sandwich? I struggle with emotional eating all of the time and am FINALLY learning to acknowledge it and prevent it SOME of the time. Thank you for sharing this. I’d love to hear any other tips you have on dealing with emotional eating.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:41 am

Totally still have nights where I want a peanut butter and fluff sandwich! I don’t know if that will ever go away, but I do know that my thought process is much different now. I feel at least aware of why I want it when I’ve just eaten a steak dinner and dessert. Being cognizant of taking care of myself in other ways than food is what I’m constantly working on. I will share all my best tips in time. The real question is…will you be able to read it all (someone needs to cut my wordiness down :) )

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Laura March 23, 2011 at 5:56 am

Thank you. I just discovered your blog and what you write rings so true to my journey of weight loss. Thank you. I find your writing inspiring and it gets me to think about my own weight loss journey.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:43 am

Thank you Laura! This is why I write.

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brandi March 23, 2011 at 6:32 am

wow. i just found your blog through a friends’ last week and I can honestly say that I could have written a lot of this post, word for word (except mine isn’t a pb and fluff sandwich).

it’s so refreshing to see that other people think of the same crazy things about food and the strange associations we somehow attach to hunger or fullness.

thanks for being so honest and posting this.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:46 am

Thanks so much, Brandi! I know, the feeling of empathy that I get from knowing that other people feel similarly comforts me more than you’ll ever know. Nice to meet you!

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Amanda March 23, 2011 at 7:06 am

You’re my internet best friend. It’s like you see into my SOUL man……

I have the same problem, but it takes a slightly different feeling. I wake up at all hours of the night, starving. It matters not how much I’ve had to eat through the day or just before I lay my pretty little head down. The horrible fear of there being no food when I wake is what drives me. I’m so afraid that I’ll wake up one night and catch my kitchen off guard, like, “Whoops, sorry…we didn’t see you coming! Of course we have food! Just…not…..right now….so sorry.” The only time I eat any more are when I have a craving for something. I can’t eat just to eat, BUT I eat every time I feel hungry. This will be the death of me…I get a lot of cravings.

(I can talk irrational feelings ALL day)

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:47 am

IBF4L (Internet Best Friends For Life)

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Abby March 23, 2011 at 7:07 am

I have really enjoyed your posts. I have been blessed with a good metabolism and enjoy working out so I maintain a healthy weight but I know I have food issues. I too go out to eat, get stuffed there and then immediately feel the need to eat immediately when I get home even though I know I am not hungry. I do this every night and when I get back from anywhere if it is past lunch. What am I trying to fill up on? Hmm..

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:48 am

I completely relate. It does not matter how much I’ve eaten, or what dinner I’ve just come from, I will want to eat when I get home.

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Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean March 23, 2011 at 7:22 am

another amazing post. i often find myself eating a bowl of cereal before i go to bed, even when i’m not hungry. lately i’ve been making a concentrated effort to ONLY eat a snack if i’m truly hungry before going to bed. it was hard at first, but it’s getting easier!

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Shanna, like Banana March 23, 2011 at 7:51 am

I have a lot of issues with emotional hunger as well and it can be crippling. I literally have to peel my nand back from the pantry so I don’t take another cookie just to make myself feel briefly better in the moment. I eat because I’m stressed. I eat because I’m sad. I eat because I’m bored. I have no idea what full or hungry feels like because I don’t use those as my triggers. Instead I use my emotions…

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Jenny March 23, 2011 at 8:38 am

hmm, I rarely eat before bed (except perhaps a cup of tea or something), and I’ve never been one to eat because I’m stressed or depressed or anything…if anything I eat less in those instances. But, I can relate to emotional eating in that sometimes, if things aren’t going my way, I get mad and think I deserve a treat for having put up with whatever-went-wrong. This morning I basically got stood up waiting for someone, and after hanging around 45 minutes and feeling frustrated, I decided a starbucks caramel frapaccino would put everything back in order, lol. Granted this doesn’t happen too often, and I mostly try to keep healthy snacks around so if i do feel tempted, at least the worst I can do is have an extra apple or some popcorn…but still. My take-away lesson from this post is that sometimes it’s ok to just say no, the world is not going to crumble and fall apart just because I didn’t satisfy that momentary urge to eat or “treat myself.” nor is eating ever going to put it back together! And like you with your little snacks before bedtime…there’s really nothing to be afraid of in not indulging myself at every whim and fancy!

we’re so blessed to live in a world where we can have just about anything we want readily available, and like you said, we’re not going to starve! By tomorrow, we’ll probably have forgotten whatever little thing that was bothering us. We’ve just gotta keep it all in perspective, right? :)

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 8:56 am

Really thoughtful comment, Jenny. I’m so impressed with your perspective- it’s a really healthy mentality, and one that I think we all work on all the time. Thanks for sharing :)

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Sam March 23, 2011 at 11:26 am

“My take-away lesson from this post is that sometimes it’s ok to just say no, the world is not going to crumble and fall apart just because I didn’t satisfy that momentary urge to eat or “treat myself.” nor is eating ever going to put it back together! ”
That is very well worded. No matter how much my internal voice says “Ok, Sam, you do not need this bowl of cereal, it’s 11:00 and you have already eaten dinner.” I still pour the cereal and eat it then go the the gym the next morning and regret every spoonful. One serious moment for me was when I realized I was pouring quietly because I didn’t want my roommates to hear me. If I was doing something I was ashamed of, why was I doing it? Thanks for that line Jenny :)

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Megan March 23, 2011 at 9:01 am

This is such an insightful post, and a totally different take on any ideas that I’d had on emotional eating. I’m also a snack before bed kind of girl, and it’s a habit that I’ve been trying to break since college. I’ll keep your words in mind the next time I’m tempted!

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Janice Harper March 23, 2011 at 9:14 am

The same perspective can be applied to other behaviors, including alcohol and drug use (although there are also biological factors involved, the emotional factors remain huge). By asking ourselves what exactly we are feeling, what we want to be feeling, and what constructive steps we can take to get there, we can resist the voices that tell us to eat, drink, smoke, throw a tantrum, criticize others, whatever behavior we’ve allowed to become a habitual reflex.

Yet my own nighttime eating habits changed dramatically when I found myself living in a mud hut in a rainforest, where food simply wasn’t available and any rare treats I did manage to hoard were quickly discovered by giant jumping rats and enormous roaming pigs. When I finally returned to the material world, I didn’t even think about eating in the night. Now I’ll have a cup of tea and perhaps a small dessert, but fifteen years have passed and I still have no appetite for a second helping of whatever was served at dinner or a microwaved snack dripping with fat, sugar and salt — habits which used to be so ingrained it never occurred to me that humans weren’t meant to eat four meals a day.

So much of our behavior is based on fear, and when we face those fears — such as letting ourselves go hungry for some time — we discover they are either not nearly as bad as we thought, or that we are so much stronger than we thought. Now when my stomach growls, I just tell myself, my body’s eating up the fat, yahoo!

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Lisa March 23, 2011 at 9:42 am

I can relate to this. I have the same fear: never having enough food, not having food handy, fear of that grumbling in my stomach. Losing over 100 pounds I thought that would disappear with better eating habits. Unfortunately it’s still lingering for me. I have good days and bad days.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 24, 2011 at 6:38 am

So true that it doesn’t just fully go away when you’ve lost all the weight. In truth, I’m never really hungry and never close to gaining weight, but it’s my mind that hadn’t understood that for a very long time. Thanks for sharing, Lisa!

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Frieda March 23, 2011 at 10:30 am

:D I am so like you when it comes to that. I think it is a typical thing for people who love to please people. It is that little tiny thing that is just for you and nobody else. Problem with me is that I am at the beginning of losing weight so I try to change my late night desire for sweet chocolate to a new desire for dark chocolate (like the 80% cocoa version). it helps me to still lose weight but still please myself ^^ i am just not ready to give that one up yet ^^

and btw. what is a peanut butter and fluff sandwich? (i am from germany and dont know what that is ^^)

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 24, 2011 at 6:36 am

I think the dark chocolate swap is a big step in the right direction, Frieda :) Especially since I find dark chocolate satisfies me more than others, because it’s not just a big sugar rush, you know?

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Audrey March 23, 2011 at 10:36 am

It’s so true. I get hungry at about 9-10 at night. especially if i had dinner around 6. And it’s even worse if i’m in my apartment where all my food is. I’ve literally had to talk myself into not moving from my bed. haha. it just happens! I’m glad I’m not the only one that struggles. I just have to keep myself busy, so then I don’t think about it. So, like others, I try to have healthy, low calorie, yet satisfying snacks on hand, just in case I give in.

And I’m with you on the peanut butter obsession. COMPLETELY. What would the world be like if there was no peanut butter? a sad, and dreary place.

Thanks for making my day with the post!

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Sam March 23, 2011 at 11:12 am

You have brought me to tears once again. I find it amazing how much I can relate to everything you write. Three main points- helping others, positive energy and being afraid of hunger. Amazing, amazing, amazing.

The thing is- we know we do this! Why do we still do it? Is it more acceptable to still fall asleep with full bellies when we know it’s wrong? Like and alcoholic who drinks while telling people that he shouldn’t? We are addicted to food, but we need food. Does that make us functioning addicts? Are we failing in our addiction when we are overweight or is this a battle we can never win?
Ahh…. my mind is racing. Thank you for this post, and all your posts. I can’t even express how much they help me everyday.

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sara March 23, 2011 at 12:34 pm

I totally empathize. I have a fear of going hungry (maybe a result of my low bloodsugar thing?), but it’s separate from my emotional need to eat. That hits me right around 3:30pm and lasts until I’ve been home for a while. It’s all due to my job just taking everything out of me and my needing to get centered after I leave my desk. But it shows up in the form of snacking and feeling incredibly hungry. I’m *trying* to get in the habit of lying on my bed in silence for 15 minutes before getting my butt out the door for a run. Emphasis on the trying part.

Love this post ♥

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Shelly March 23, 2011 at 1:53 pm

You speak so openly about how much weight you have lost & how you have manged to keep it off for four years…HOW? You still enjoy cookies & desserts & even fluffernutters! HOW? Do you have a rigorous exercise routine? I, too, am doing WW, but I find the snacking on my favorite sweets catches up with me instantly. I would welcome any sage advice from someone who obviously enjoys sweets as much as I do. I ♥ reading your Blog.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 23, 2011 at 2:03 pm

Thanks Shelly!

I counted calories for years, and still am mindful of how much I’m eating. It’s just hard to forget the numbers. I always have dessert, but it’s probably budgeted in my day, you know? I also don’t formally work out at all. I walk to and from work, which ends up being about 3 miles altogether, and that’s enough. I’m so much happier with my relationship with exercise now. It’s just moving my body and being active, not hours in the gym. I’m constantly getting better and more aware of myself and how I eat. I would say, I eat very healthy, lots of vegetables. But I also absolutely LOVE cake and cookies and sweets, and my life would not be nearly as rich without them. I’ll never give them up!

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MelissaNibbles March 23, 2011 at 2:53 pm

This post really hit a chord with me. I feel like I have to eat at certain times of the day and if I don’t, I flip out (in my mind, I don’t throw a fit or anything). Reading what you wrote about feeling unfulfilled in other aspects of life made you want to fill yourself is making me think that’s exactly what’s going on with me. Wow, so much to consider here. Thank you.

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Lisa @ Thrive Style March 23, 2011 at 3:02 pm

Wow—great pictures and great thoughts. Hunger is such a huge topic. I’ve done a lot of studying and reading about this, and how we deal with food often is similar to how we deal with life.

Thanks for such a thoughtful post.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 24, 2011 at 6:29 am

Completely agreed- Geneen Roth’s book, “Women, Food, and God,” talked a lot about how we treat food and that relationship being a window into other parts of ourselves and our lives. Thanks Lisa!

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Tina @ Faith Fitness Fun March 23, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Oh how I can relate to this post. I still find myself most pulled to food when I have that emotionally drained feeling after giving so much of myself to others. Recognizing it is so empowering and I applaud you so much for sharing this. LOVED this post!

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Lu March 23, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Andrea, this post hits close to home. I am always trying to fill the void. I love that you brought this up, it’s an important thing for all of us to get in touch with. I’ve discovered that I eat because I feel empty. It’s not a physical emptiness, it’s an emotional one. Thank you for putting this out there.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 24, 2011 at 6:27 am

I totally get it, Lu. Thank you

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ASuburbanLife March 23, 2011 at 8:20 pm

This post really spoke to me; thank you.

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Anneliesz March 23, 2011 at 9:19 pm

I too am someone who wants to live a life without regret and is deeply entrenched with people all day long. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking something out of your life and the need to replace it with something else. There is something absurdly and simply satisfying about being full. Not overly so, but just enough. I appreciate your perspective on this. Thanks for sharing.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 24, 2011 at 6:27 am

Thank you Annelies. I absolutely think about that all the time- that it’s really easy to fill one hole in your life with just another vice/compulsion/addiction/anything, really. It’s as though we always need something to occupy our time and our minds. Thanks for your kindness

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Naomi March 23, 2011 at 10:38 pm

As I read this, I am sitting in bed right now trying to determine if I really am hungry, or if I’m just wanting the dessert I didn’t have after dinner. Like you, I am an emotional eater, mostly eating mindlessly when I’m bored. My weakest time of day to indulge is after I get home from work, which is why I try to workout at that time. I am marathon training right now so its imperative for me to up my calorie intake to ensure my body has the nutrients its needs to sustain me during this training period, yet I struggle with wondering, “am I eating too much”, “will I gain any of the weight I loss back?” I appreciate this post so much because it shows me that I am not the only one who experiences these struggles. Thank you for sharing.

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 24, 2011 at 6:24 am

Thanks Naomi! And I bet with marathon training you’re super hungry all the time, so making sure you’re eating *well* is hard. I bet your body craves sugar more for the quick energy it will provide. I appreciate you sharing :)

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Sarabeth Potts March 24, 2011 at 7:57 am

Andrea,
I am in love with your blog. I read it every day. I NEVER read blogs (guess I’m too uppity?) but your story is so familiar and yet so inspiring. Thank you!

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 24, 2011 at 8:01 am

You just made me smile as big as I know how. Thank you so much, Sarah, really, thank you!

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pbart524 March 24, 2011 at 1:01 pm

My friend, Amy, introduced me to your blog two days ago and the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. This topic is near and dear to my heart and an ongoing struggle in my journey. After keeping 40 pounds off since 2004 and losing another 50 pounds in 2009, I’ve watched almost 20 of the 90 come back on in the last 8 months. It brought tears to my eyes to be reading about ME on YOUR blog….remembering days of “filling myself so I couldn’t feel.” I, too, feel a “need” to eat at night, but I’m never craving anything specific, so I just keep trying things until I am STUFFED. I’m completely aware of the ridiculousness of it, but it’s still an ongoing struggle.
I’ve never equated the feeling to “Fear of Hunger Future,” but since I could whip up just about anything you ask for at any time using things in my fridge, freezer and pantry, maybe I am a little fearful, too. Your insight on being a people-pleaser is SOOO interesting to me. Maybe worrying and stressing about filling others up all day with whatever they need, leaves ME with nothing to fill myself up with at the end of the day….except food. I never thought about it that way. I figured it was just loneliness, but that never explained why I’d do the same thing after coming home from a wonderful dinner or evening out with friends. The people-pleaser theory explains those occasions, too. Thanks to my friend, Amy, for introducing us ;-) and I’m looking forward to reading more about your journey in the future! Paula

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 24, 2011 at 1:12 pm

Paula, thank you. Thank you thank you. I completely relate, and it’s amazing to me how many of us share the same feelings, the same desperation, and needs. I really think just being more aware of them makes it work. Just being totally, uncomfortably honest with yourself. Because when we continue to eat when we’re not hungry, we’re not only screwing with our body’s signals of hunger and fullness, but with the way we feel and cope with just about anything. Thanks for sharing your story :)

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snacktress March 24, 2011 at 2:38 pm

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this post. Wow.

I have been struggling with disordered eating for quite a few months, and am working at getting past it. I restricted a lot, and the thought of eating scares me. I want to stop counting, because I feel like it triggers a lot, and sometimes I end up eating like it’s the last time I’ll ever see food again. I got in the habit of after-dinner meals after I get home from rehearsal. I forgot what it’s like to feel actual hunger.

This post has really inspired me to keep working. Thank you so much!

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Sable@SquatLikeALady March 26, 2011 at 10:03 am

Wow. I could have written this…….if I were as insightful as you and if I were as good a writer. And, ya know, if I had made this connection before reading this post.

Thank you for helping me understand myself.

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Kelly March 26, 2011 at 10:46 am

This was so good! I love all your posts! So insightful and so real.

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Lindsay March 26, 2011 at 10:52 am

Came by way of Tina over at Faith, Fitness, Fun…and this post is one I feel like I could have written myself. It was beautifully written, and I am in the process of realizing that the kitchen is always there if I need more food…the binge statement at the end hit me right where I needed it to. I restricted compulsively and very dangerously for a year, and would pry binge, like half an 18 oz jar of PB, at least once a week. Now that I’m trying to get out of the restriction stage, the binging is still happening, but like you alluded to, I think it is more a “habit”

Sorry if what I’ve written makes no sense, but I just wanted to let you know this post REALLY spoke to me, and I think I’ve just found another blog to add to my reader! :) Thanks, again!

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 26, 2011 at 11:03 am

Lindsay, don’t ever apologize for writing a lot. What you wrote, to me, is what this is all about. It’s why I write in the first place. I’m so touched that you shared your journey, and that in a way this post spoke to you. We have so much in common and it feels supportive and worthwhile when we don’t go through anything alone. Thank you for your kind words, and believe me, you can overcome anything. You really can.

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fluffyglutton March 27, 2011 at 8:08 pm

This is brilliant! You said exactly what’s been on the tip of my tongue for so long. I am so glad that this link got posted to my blog. I will continue reading your blog and I can’t wait to read more tonight. I hope that someday I can write as well as you. Thank you for posting this.

http://fluffyglutton.com

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Halley March 28, 2011 at 12:49 am

What a great new blog redesign. Nicely done – looks great!

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Can You Stay for Dinner March 28, 2011 at 6:55 am

Thanks Halley!! I was worried that people would find it boring, or too bare, but I’m so happy you like it!

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MichelleMyBelle April 18, 2011 at 7:06 pm

I just found your blog yesterday, and have been reading my way through your posts. Your post just put the final answer on something that’s been trying to get out of my head for ages. I heard a motivational speaker say that it’s okay to be hungry before you go to bed. He said to use that little hunger to remind yourself of all of the things you hunger for in life – not just food. But when you said to remember the kitchen is always open, I think that just put the rest of the statement in perspective for me because I still have this nagging feeling that if I don’t eat it now, it won’t be there, except that idea is totally false. Putting the two together makes perfect sense to me now. It’s okay to be hungry as a reminder that there are other things in life to hunger for, but if it’s food I need, the kitchen is always open. It’s an amazing feeling when things finally click in your head, isn’t it?

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Can You Stay for Dinner April 19, 2011 at 8:49 am

Wow, thanks so much Michelle! I, too, absolutely love when I find the missing piece of a thought I want to believe in. I love when others articulate exactly what I’m feeling, so I completely get the feeling of sort of being set free by an idea. Thank you for your kindness!

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Jo @ Jo In the Kitchen April 20, 2011 at 7:44 am

Sometimes I feel like you’re in my head! (That’s actually a good thing…for me anyway) I’m just getting to the point where it’s ok to not be stuffed or starving all the time. What you described is all too familiar.
It’s nice to find comfort in something other than food or hunger.
Thanks for this great bit of food for thought.

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Andrea March 12, 2012 at 5:01 pm

Andi, I remember reading this and your other emotional eating post back when you wrote them about a year ago, and it helped my emotional eating immensely. I still struggle with it from time to time- the last week has been particularly bad due to various stresses! Anyways, I had remembered reading this and sought it out again today to re-read for inspiration. Thank you for your honest and real words. I know I can overcome my need to use food as an emotional pacifier… and I know my life will be so much fuller because of it.

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sographiegisp January 16, 2013 at 6:07 am

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I was asking yourself if there are any ideas still left for net internet sites.
I advise each and every issue until finally now has been developed. I’m feeling like the marketing guidelines have been fatigued!
What do you believe?

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loladaisy October 15, 2013 at 3:07 am

Ran across your post because I was trying to google why I had a fear of hunger.
How did you get over it? Every time I have school or have to go somewhere, I feel like I must stuff myself before heading out because I’m scared of feeling hungry and not having food around me. I was on a strict 1200 calorie diet for a few months before I realized I just couldn’t do it anymore. I was unhappy& miserable& felt deprived even though I had reached my goal weight. Now I’m doing a lot better, I’m eating 1850-2050 calories a day & I have grown to have this fear. I just don’t know how to fix my mentality that yes, I will get hungry but no I won’t die. It’s so hard.

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lizzy March 18, 2014 at 9:47 pm

Amazing. Such powerful and insightful words. I have often wondered why I could be out shopping for example, skip a meal and barely even notice until my stomach reminds me. But the slightest thought that my reasonablily sized dinner might ware off before bed is like a sentence to death! I hate that uncomfortable feeling. I heard Russel Brand say in an interview that he still craves drugs almost everyday. Almost any time he has an uneasy, nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach. That’s why he will forever be a recovering drug attic. You have I lightened me to the fact that I should not be trying to “cure” this feeling and that it will not likely go away when I reach my goal weight or ever, in fact. That we should recognize the need we are trying to fill and fill it in more productive ways. I cannot refrain from eating, so quitting food is not an option instead I should simply proceed with caution when indulging in my drug if choice…especially at bedtime. Thank you so much and you are not too wordy…perfectly written :)

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