What is practical hunger and how do I learn how to embrace it?
“Eat when you’re hungry.”
“Listen to your body.”
“Feed your body what it’s craving.”
You’ve definitely heard these sayings in the past year and I’m probably one of the people you’ve heard them from. I love intuitive and mindful eating! It’s fascinating and a subject I want to continue to learn about and share with others.
Sometimes it can get overwhelming. What if our body isn’t giving us a straightforward answer of what it wants? What if I know I’m going to be stuck in a meeting past lunchtime or maybe I have an event to go to that’s right in the middle of dinnertime…
This is where some practical knowledge needs to come in. Intuitive eating and listening to your body is awesome, but sometimes it doesn’t take life into consideration. While I fully support eating when you’re hungry and fueling your body with what it’s craving and needing, sometimes we have to do what’s best for our bodies and override this intuitive thought process. For those who have relearned to be an intuitive eater and have stepped away from eating just because it’s a typical mealtime or everyone else is, embracing practical hunger can be a little tough.
Practical hunger is when you’re not necessarily fully biologically hungry, but you know that if you don’t eat now you will be overly hungry when the timing isn’t right.
Now you don’ t have to be a master intuitive eater to start practicing practical hunger. I think that learning how to maneuver hunger practically is actually a key part of becoming an intuitive eater again.
Some examples may be eating a light dinner even though it’s not dinnertime, but because you have an event that is from 6-8pm and you know that by 8pm you’ll be ravenous. Or you know you’re going to be stuck in a meeting from 12-2pm, so you eat a snack beforehand to keep you focused and on task until you can break for lunch. Or if you’re sick and nothing sounds good, but you know you need a little something in your stomach and to stay hydrated to start feeling better. These are all situations where practical hunger can come into play.
Practical hunger isn’t just being armed with snacks at all times of the day to combat unexpected situations where you can’t listen to your hunger cues. While it’s important to have snacks on hand for those situations, it’s also still listening to your body and figuring out what is going to work best for you in that moment. If you know that you’re going to have a long wait at the restaurant before you go out, maybe you eat some type of simple carb to spike your blood sugar, but still have time for it to come back down and have that hunger sensation right before your meal. It’s tuning in to your body to know how best to handle those situations so that you don’t get hangry, overeat past your satisfaction point, and aren’t able to enjoy your meal. Practical hunger is preparing yourself for success so you can still nourish your body effectively even though it may be at a time or in a situation where you wouldn’t normally. Whether that be having a light meal or packing a snack, you have to find a way to practically deal with your hunger that works for you and your body.
If you’d like any tips on how to start getting in tune with your body and dealing with practical hunger, reach out! I’d love to chat!
Hey everyone! I'm Emily - a Registered Dietitian & food lover! I love sharing simple, tasty recipes & mindful nutrition tips here on my blog. You can browse my site for other services I offer & learn how to work with me.