Over the past few years working with women through Nutshell and also being in community and friendships with women in both their late teens and 20s and also women in their 30s and 40s a reoccurring theme in conversation has been hunger shame. And not only shame, but also frustration. Hunger is often associated with shame, as if it’s some pathological thing that shouldn’t be happening. And along with that hunger also comes frustration, because hunger isn’t what we consider a feeling of pleasure and the only way to make it go away is to eat. And eating means calories. And calories means weight gain or at least weight maintenance. That’s the thought pattern I’ve seen repeated across far too many conversations.
WIAW breakfast // buckwheat pancakes with cashew butter and banana + two eggs + strawberries
But I don’t think women are solely to blame for this cultivated feeling of shame around hunger and appetite. Rather, our society has a huge role to play in perpetuating these feelings. We live in a world absolutely consumed by diet and exercise. A world where thin and skinny is associated with health and beauty. A world where appetite and hunger is almost seen as unladylike or something like that.
So, let me say with bold confidence that hunger is NOT something we should try to suppress or feel shameful about. The truth is, hunger is a VERY GOOD thing. It’s a sign of health and a firm indication of metabolic efficiency. Waking up hungry is awesome. Hunger tells us our body is burning through what we’re eating instead of storing that energy away for later. Feeling hungry throughout the day is wonderful both hormonally and metabolically. Having an appetite and hunger should be something we are excited about. If hunger is our body telling us to eat, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying food tastes pretty good, shouldn’t we be excited that the hungrier we are the more amazing food we get to experience?
lunch // salad + apple + Larabar picked up at TJs on my way up to Columbia
I know I am. And you should be too.
Hunger and fullness are signs that your body’s appetite hormones, ghrelin and leptin, are actually working and that your body is burning energy, therefore it needs more energy. Not feeling hunger is a clear sign of metabolic suppression. Decreased hunger typically leads to eating less and over time your metabolism will slow and adjust to that lower energy intake. And then women become frustrated when they are eating less and less and still not losing any weight. Or even more frustrating, gaining weight. Our bodies are pretty awesome at burning through energy and maintaining a healthy set point if we give it the tools to do so – and that means enough nourishing food.
snacks // kiwi + lots of baby carrots + dark chocolate and almonds
post 4 mile run green smoothie // Vega One + 1/2 frozen banana + frozen spinach + 1 tbsp coconut butter + ice
Your identity is not found in how little food you need to consume to feel full. And being hungry or ravenous is not something we should be ashamed about- we should be excited! Having an appetite and eating more than toddler sized portions doesn’t make you less of a lady.
dinner // veggie curry with tempeh over brown rice [this was bigger than this pathetic bowl looks]
nighttime snacking // dark chocolate + chocolate chia cookie
As women, we have to stop shaming our hunger. Stop ignoring it and misinterpreting that hunger as a measurement of worth or achievement. Feeling hungry is not a gold medal of self discipline. And having a healthy appetite doesn’t make you any less of a lady. So let’s stop being frustrated with hunger and instead embrace it by nourishing our bodies well with food that feels good. And that includes both cupcakes and kale.