Monday, April 14, 2008

Tiredness Misinterpreted for Hunger

After months of hibernation, it is finally springtime! Flowers are bursting out of their underground winter hiding places and there are many compelling reasons to be out of doors. Raking, mowing, weeding, feeding bending and lifting all may exhaust us physically and this end-of-the day tiredness can be misinterpreted for hunger. Food gives us energy and we need the right amount of the right nutrients for our body to function properly. Often, however, we fool ourselves into thinking we need to eat when our body actually does not need more food. This is likely to happen when we are tired. We might think we need to eat food to energize our body. Although this may be the case at times, such as in a life or death situation, usually, for many of us, food is not what we really need. We may really need to sleep or soak in a warm bubble bath.

When we are tired, we are more emotionally vulnerable. We may find ourselves eating to save us from experiencing our feelings. When we feel tired, angry, frustrated, anxious, bored, lonely, unappreciated or afraid, for example, food becomes a quick and easy way to seemingly perk us up and fill the void we are experiencing. It is easier to tear open a bag of chips grab a chocolate bar than it is to sit with those painful feelings.

Feelings of hunger are tricky and often have nothing to do with the fueling of our body. Our body doesn’t need excessive amounts of potato chips, chocolate or macaroni and cheese to function optimally, so when we tell ourselves we need them for energy, we are not telling ourselves the truth. Fats, sugar or caffeine may give us a temporary rush of energy – but this is short-lived, and masking discomfort will leave us feeling even more “tired” than before because we are not giving our body the nutrients it really needs to “energize.” So, when we choose sugars, fats or excess carbohydrates we may not be truly, physically hungry. Cravings we experience deliver valuable messages to us about what we really feel and what we really need. Our job is to pay attention to these messages and to give ourselves what we really need at the time. Proper rest, a healthful diet, and a peaceful lifestyle give us energy – not junk foods. They may be what our Chew clamors for from time to time, but they are never what we really need.

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