The Five Health "Rules" I Break as a Health Coach: Eat When You're Hungry

I'm breaking down the top 5 “health rules” that I BREAK.  Today we talk about number three.

One thing that I pray for you is that you never take any person’s opinion as fact.  While some of these “rules” might work for you, I would say the majority of people it is actually hurting rather than helping them.  Even when I tell you my opinion, you need to decide for yourself if you will benefit from this or not.  You need to test it out by applying it your life, listen to how your body reacts and then make YOUR OWN DECISION.

The last two "rules" were never skip breakfast and eat every couple of hours to keep your metabolism going.  I’d love to hear your opinions so don’t forget to stop by my Facebook page and leave questions or comments!


RULE NUMBER THREE: Eat when you’re hungry. 

Lately, if you follow any of the “natural” health movements, you have probably come across the Intuitive Eating plan.  The basics are this:

  1. Eat when you’re hungry.
  2. Eat what you really want, not diet food.
  3. Honor your fullness.

While I like this advice, for the most part, it leads to some serious consequences in my mind.  Intuitive eating is missing some key pieces as to how our brains and bodies work.  These holes can lead to some very frustrated and defeated women that follow this plan.


I want to break something down.  Physical hunger is a sensation that originates in the BODY and travels to your brain.  It tells the brain, “Hey.  We have run out of glucose.  We would like some more so we don’t have to break down fat.  Would you eat something?”  It is just a suggestion.  I like to think of physical hunger as waves.  It comes rolling in and usually goes rolling back out, even if you don’t feed it. 

Then we have emotional hungry.  Most people call these cravings.  This is hunger that originates in the BRAIN that releases hormones that cause a sensation in our bodies.  It is caused by a thought.  The thought could be as simple as, “I want chocolate ice cream.”  That thought will then create physical sensations like a growling stomach or increase in heart rate.  This kind of hunger is usually intense and does not subside until you eat something.


I've had a few clients that tell me, “I just ate when I was hungry. I followed my bodies cues.  I don’t know why I am not losing weight.” 

Well, that’s when you need to figure out the difference between emotional and physical hunger.


If you are constantly eating when you have any sensation of huger, you are giving your body more fuel than it needs.  What does our bodies do with extra fuel?  It stores it as fat.  If you are only eating when your body (not your mind) tells you it needs fuel, then your body will maintain an even weight.  

This is easier said than done.


Well, it may have started with your thoughts when you have been PHYSICALLY hungry and weren’t able to eat. When you experience the sensation of true physical hunger and you don’t act upon it immediately, YOU get to decide what we make that hunger mean.  


I am sure you have all seen the Snickers commercial with the slogan, “You’re not you when you’re hungry”.  The commercials show someone angry and then when they eat a Snickers they are calmer and happier.  The term that has been coined is “hangry”.


What most of my clients don’t understand is that they get to decide if they are hangry.  It isn't something that just happens to you. You know this is true because there are plenty of people that are hungry and NOT angry.  

You may not get hangry when your hungry, but you may make your hunger mean something else. Maybe you make it mean mean that you are starving (in the literal sense).  When you tell yourself that huger means you are starving, you may eat more than you normally would eat or eat before you are even hungry so you don’t have to worry about being “starving”.  This leads to eating to ward off POSSIBLE hunger.


There are even more example of what people make hunger mean emotionally.  The point I want to get across is…


Just because your body may tell you it  MAY need some fuel soon does not mean you need to get hangry or become panicked. The physical sensation was not an emergency.  Hunger is not an emergency (unless you are emaciated, but if you are reading this, you are not emaciated).


Our bodies are AMAZING!  God made it so that we can forgo a meal or even a couple and still be COMPLETELY FINE.  This is what I was talking about last week when I discussed “dining in”.  Our bodies realize it won’t be getting energy from food so it turns our fat into energy.  Boom!  There’s your fuel. 


Let them give things to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for me, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things. Psalm 107: 8-9

I love this verse.  It reminds me that there are so many kinds of hunger.  Physical, emotional and spiritual.  Often, we seek the instant gratification of satisfying hunger physically thinking it will satisfy the emotional or spiritual.

But it never does.


Once I truly allowed myself to be comfortable in physical hunger and once I figured out how to differentiate between the types of hunger that’s when I really saw a drastic change in my life.  I lost weight.  I gained confidence.  I found the joy. 

Why?  Because I wasn’t rushing to food when I really needed time with God.  I wasn’t rushing to food when I just need to de-stress and relax.  I wasn’t rushing to food when I was bored or unsatisfied with my work. 


Even though I really like the Intuitive Eating Movement, the experts are not equipping people with the tools they need to get their bodies back into proper functioning order and teaching them to strengthen their emotional and spiritual health. 

You need these first before you can “eat when you’re hungry.”



Do you need some help sorting out physical hunger versus emotional or spiritual hunger?  Are you struggling with over eating and feeling miserable about your body?  Do you think you are missing key emotional and spiritual health?  Sign up for a FREE 45-minute coaching session with me to gain some clarity.


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