By Cheryl Hansen
I’ve been working with a nutritionist who has—brilliantly—challenged some of the “rules” I long ago established and have vehemently held onto year after year, diet plan after diet plan. She’s the one who challenged me to give up diet coke—for good—and that was only the beginning.
She asked me during one of our first sessions how my body feels when I’m hungry. My response? “Uh… I’m never hungry.”
Her jaw dropped (and this is a woman who’s likely heard it all).
The last time I recall being truly hungry was during a trip to Las Vegas (like 15 years ago). I felt dizzy, sick and shaky. My husband-then-boyfriend saw the terror in my eyes and raced to the nearest available food source, buying a life-saving bag of chips for his desperate girlfriend (it’s a miracle he went on to marry me). Since then, I’ve had a fear of hunger. I’ve been very diligent over the years, eating my meals on schedule and stocking my pantry, purse and car with snacks to prevent the possibility of hunger.
So when the nutritionist suggested I allow myself to feel hungry (particularly in the morning) and to (gasp) eliminate snacks, it was my jaw that dropped. But I tried it. And I didn’t die. I’ve been playing with intermittent fasting and have found I can put 14, 15 even 16 hours between dinner and my first meal the next day. I can go to yoga in the morning before eating anything (a cup of tea works wonders). I can eat a meal and make it to the next without grabbing a Luna bar (or a few cookies). My evenings are just fine without a bowl of ice cream or a glass of wine (with chocolate). Each day I find myself pausing and asking myself if I’m hungry. If I am, it’s cause for celebration (because I’m not dying). And if I’m not—I revel in the idea that I’m actually satisfied (imagine).
It turns out that these behaviors I’ve held onto for so long—sacred cows like diet coke, sugar, snacks and never-hunger, among others—are really the root of my inability to transform. Or at least they were.