I’m a mum of boys, and for fellow boy-mums, that’s going to explain a lot.
Like, why I check the toilet seat, even in the middle of the night, before daring to sit on it. Once bitten (wet-bottomed?), twice shy.
And before I go on any further, I should warn you this blog post about intuitive eating and hunger and fullness, does contain a lot of pee-talk. But for very good reason.
You have been warned.
I’m definitely not saying girl-mums get it easier, but boy-mums do face some rather, shall we say, “unique challenges” when it comes to nappy changing (why is there water falling from the ceiling? Oh crikey! It’s not water and it’s not coming from the ceiling!)
And unique challenges with potty training too. I taught both of my boys to use the toilet sitting down and let them graduate to standing when they had “things” more under control.
Basically, I had enough issues in my day-to-day life without having to get in crime scene forensic cleaners after they’d used the bathroom each morning.
Anyway. No talk about kids and peeing is complete without discussing those emergency toilet runs (and stay with me, cos this relates to eating).
Because little kids leave peeing too late. They wanna keep playing even when they feel the urge to go to the toilet. So they ignore the urge and keep playing.
And the urge to pee gets stronger and stronger, they’re wiggling, crossing their legs, grabbing their private parts…
“Do you need to go to the toilet little Johnny?”
NO! They screech.
And they keep on playing until the urge to pee gets so overwhelming that there’s a mad dash through the house to the toilet, a mad scrambling to remove their shorts and get themselves on the toilet before the waterworks open.
Most of the time they don’t make it. Wet shorts, wet floor, wet, wet, wet.
And the kid is left disillusioned. “I had an accident mummy.”
But it wasn’t really an accident, was it? You know, and I know, that if you ignore your body’s signal to pee for ages, your body will with 100% certainty force you to pee eventually…”we need to pee now! And so now, we shall pee!”
Getting Over-Hungry Is A Lot Like Needing To Pee Desperately
Adults see the whole pee-thing with clarity: Kids delay peeing so long, that they can’t control the urge to pee when they finally go.
We know not to do that. We’ve learnt from years of peeing experience, that it’s best to answer the call of your bladder in a timely manner.
But what about hunger?
Do you answer your hunger cues in a timely manner?
Or do you try to put off your hunger for hours and hours until finally the urge to eat becomes so strong and overwhelming that you’re running to the kitchen, pulling the cupboards open and eating whatever you can first lay your hands on?
“We need to eat now!” says your body, “And so now, we shall eat!”
And it pushes you to the cupboards to load up on quick and easy carbs and fat. No messing about. No peeling or chopping or selecting. Just grab the bag of whatever sugary stuff you can find, stick your hand in and start eating it.
Crumbs and stuff everywhere. A mess.
“I told you, we needed to eat now…”
Over-Hunger Turns Into Primal Hunger
When we become OVER-HUNGRY, after ignoring or not sensing our hunger cues, our body tips over into a place of primal hunger – where your body is solely focused on survival.
Bless it’s cotton socks, your body thinks you are starving and it wants to make sure it saves you from starvation. So it ups the signals to search for high-energy foods.
You become a human-beagle, sniffing out high-energy foods, digging through the pantry, snaffling through all the packets and boxes.
Nutritious foods won’t interest you, instead you’ll be looking for high-fat or high-sugar foods to fill that big hunger.
And in this state your eating feels a bit out of control. You’ll eat fast and eat too much, as you rush to gobble it all down.
After all, your body is in survival mode and it will push you to eat as much as possible to fend off starvation.
It’s a bit of a mess. Like the pee-stained toilet after a kids pee emergency.
But #fact. This is what happens when you IGNORE your hunger too long.
The simple rule is: OVER-hungry equals OVER-eating.
Just like when kids ignore the urge to pee for too long. Things get messy real quick.
How To Stop Overeating – Honour Your Gentle Hunger
The solution for kids is to listen to your body and when it tells you that you need to pee, you go to the toilet before the urges get too strong.
It makes sense, we all know it works.
The same is true for eating too.
The solution is to listen to your hunger cues and respond to them when you feel a gentle hunger, rather than leaving it so you become OVER-hungry and the urge to eat becomes too strong and out of control.
And this too makes sense, and it works.
The secret sauce is to “actually do it”. As in, listen out for your gentle hunger, check in with your tummy and your head during the day, notice when you experience signs of hunger like the following and then make it a priority to feed that hunger (instead of ignoring it and hoping it’ll go away, trust me, it won’t).
Trusty Signs of Initial Hunger
The typical signs of hunger fall into two loose categories:
- The empty hollow sensation in our gut – these are the physical sensations we feel in our tummy, the hunger pangs.
- Mental sensations (called inanition) – these are less specific sensations such as fatigue or light-headedness and general weakness.
Sometimes you might notice you feel only the physical signs when hungry, other times you might notice a combination of both physical and mental signs. The tricky one, is learning to recognise when the mental sensations appear without physical hunger pangs, so you understand they’re caused by true hunger, rather than say just being tired. This comes with experience.
I have a coaching client that noticed she would have physical signs of hunger in the mornings, but in the afternoon when she was hungry she generally only experienced mental sensations (i.e. feeling tired and fatigued). I have the exact same pattern too!
That means, when it’s mid afternoon and I notice I’m feeling a bit tired (and don’t want to do my work, ahem), I stop and do a check-in with my body to see if I’m physically hungry. When I sit still and be mindful for a moment I then notice that I really am feeling physically hungry too. For me, it’s been a learning experience that tiredness can be the first sign of hunger.
Have a think about what your patterns of hunger are like.
Then try to listen out for the INITIAL signs of hunger, so that you can honour and respond to them promptly so you don’t end up becoming OVER-hungry and end up OVER-eating.
Remember the simple rule: OVER-hungry equals OVER-eating.
Honour that early gentle hunger and you’ll be on the path to overcoming overeating.
P.S. Did you know that there are another 13 reasons why you might accidentally overeat? Grab my Ultimate Guide below for a list of them all WITH helpful solutions too.