Thursday, January 22, 2009

Dieting and hunger

A dietitian friend, Meg Geiser, said something to me the other day that is totally profound in its simplicity: Dieters need to know that they'll be hungry when they are dieting.
I mean, of course! But the diet books and the diet programs all tell you that if you follow their advice, you won't be hungry! If you eat lots of fiber, according to the diet gurus, you'll be full longer. Well, that just doesn't work for me. Huge plates of lettuce don't hold me for very long even when accompanied by protein and some fat.
A bowl of pasta. That's what I call filling.
But, yes, whenever you restrict your intake you are going to feel hungry. Don't be fooled by the books, the web sites, the pill pushers, the diet workshops or your friends: If you diet, you will be hungry. If you cannot learn to live with it, then you won't be able to stick to it. For the most part, dieting is indeed about deprivation. That's a lesson that this dieting dietitian still has to learn. You have to be willing to be hungry, to give up or certainly seriously reduce intake of many foods to which you have become accustomed to eating.
Although I like vegetables and fruits and whole grains, I also like french fries and ice cream and pizza. At my age and my weight, cutting back on ice cream and french fries doesn't result in much weight loss. I have to cut them out because at my age I would have to reduce my caloric intake just to maintain my weight. That feels like deprivation to me.
I'm working on it. I'm thinking about it. I'm trying to decide. What's important? The taste of pizza or living a little longer. The creaminess of ice cream in my mouth or being safe from chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.
Decisions decisions decision.


MandyKat said...

Why do you have to diet to the point of feeling hungry? Can't you just eat until fullness (cutting out that additional portion that takes you over the top)?
Also, your stomach doesn't have to FEEL heavy/full for your body to have obtained enough energy. I think that eating pasta makes me feel heavy and weighed down - but being full does not have to feel that way.
I understand your point, though, and, for that reason, why can't people just eat "normally," avoid starving, and accept their bodies? And, if they want to have a certain body, then accept that they need to eat much less, eat certain foods, and exercise consistently!

Fatty Matty said...

Because if a fat person could "just eat normally", she wouldn't be fat! To those of us who eat too many calories and/or too much quantity, cutting back to "normal" makes us feel hungry. I'm sure if we kept at it for a few weeks, our hunger would normalize. But for many of us, feeling hunger is extremely unpleasant and we try to avoid the feeling by eating before we are truly hungry and continuing until we are past full. As for pasta making you feel heavy. It makes me feel good! So maybe I like the "heavy" feeling. Our experiences with food are quite different. Your interest in food and flavor and texture might be very different from mine. Food is not just sustenance to me. It is more than that. It is pleasure.