Ever since I can remember I always felt that there was something horribly wrong with going hungry. Maybe it’s the Italian in me. My Noni always taught me that you can never have enough food. Whenever I am entertaining I am always scared of not having enough to feed people. What if people want seconds? What if they decide to bring a friend? What if I miss counted? You’d think it was a sin if I ran out of food! The worst thing that happens with too much food is you have leftovers!
I do my best to give my car snacks to the person on the side of the freeway, and my leftovers from dinner in my to-go bag to the transient person. I don’t choose to wait for the Holy Spirit to prompt me. There are just some things I don’t think I need to wait for God to tell me to do and feeding people when they are hungry is one of them.
I remember in high school feeling anxious when I would feel hungry. After I had developed a stress fracture from over-training and not properly fueling myself, I was scared that if I was hungry for too long that my body wouldn’t be able to heal and repair itself because there wasn’t any fuel to heal it. By God’s grace I’ve always had a pretty good relationship with hunger, and the means to purchase food. I’ve done my best to respect and honor hunger when it comes knocking.
I’ve worked for several organizations as a registered dietitian and I’ve heard it all when it comes to diet, tricks, tips and trends. The one thing I feel like they all have in common is that hunger is bad and needs to be ignored. Like it’s somehow not natural. How DARE we feel hungry! Once, I was counseling a patient, who put himself on a strict calorie restricted diet. I asked him what he does at the end of the day if he ate all his allotted calories and he’s still hungry and his response was heartbreaking to me “I just drink a big glass of water.”
How did we find ourselves here!? Denying a completely normal God-given signal? If we were thirsty and denied ourselves a drink, we wouldn’t tell ourselves “I’ve drank enough water today.”
Our bodies are far more complicated than we realize. It’s much more than calories in and calories out. There are a million different metabolic pathways going on in there that our creator has set in motion, so thinking that we can stick to set calorie limit for ourselves is completely unrealistic. Some days we move more, some days we move less; some days we’re stressing out at work and need more fuel, or fighting off a cold. There are so many factors that shape our ever-changing calorie needs.
And did you know that ignoring your hunger cues can actually slow down your metabolism?! I know it sounds crazy but hear me out – if you walk around hungry all the time, your body goes into starvation mode and it’s wondering when it’s going to get to eat again. It freaks out and starts holding onto energy by protecting fat reserves. God designed this! He set it up this way because He didn’t want us to starve to death during famines! Isn’t He clever?
I hope that by reading this you feel a freedom that when you’re hungry it’s OK to eat, even if you just ate lunch an hour ago, or a snack, or a bowl of ice cream. If it’s late at night and you’re hungry, EAT! Your grumbling stomach is trying to tell you that you haven’t quite provided your body with enough fuel. I’m telling you – you will sleep much better at night.
Pay attention to your natural hunger rhythms throughout the day and stash some snacks in your purse, car, and office drawer so that you’re ready. Hunger isn’t a bad thing. Honor it.
Faith-Based Nutrition Counseling
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Nicole resides in the East Bay Area where she works in private practice as a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She is a new Mom and serves alongside her beloved husband in their local church. She completed both her bachelors degree and her dietetic internship at California State University, Chico, where she was also a NCAA cross country and track athlete. Through those experiences, God prompted her to help people of all shapes and sizes discover body peace and acceptance through the unconditional love of Jesus. Nicole most enjoys spending time around a table and cooking for the people she loves.