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Life Performance Blog: Hunger Is Not An Emergency

Hunger is not an emergency.

Here's what to do when you feel hungry, rushed, or just plain irritable.

You’ve just spent two hours waiting to go through security and you’re finally in the airport terminal.

You speed-walk to your gate and see that your flight is just getting ready to board.

You’re starving. You don’t have time to sit down and eat anything, and you’re not sure if they’re serving food on your flight.

Suddenly you smell the unmistakable perfume of doughnuts.

Ten minutes later you hand the attendant your passport, which is covered in sticky doughnut-scented fingerprints. You get on your flight, already flying on a sugar high.

Unlike the plane, which is statistically unlikely to nosedive, you know a crash is imminent. What happened?

• Did you “lose your willpower”? Perhaps. But nobody can be iron-willed forever. • Did you “screw up”? Depends on your denfinition. We prefer “made a less- optimal choice”.

Our guess: You experienced hunger as an emergency. It’s pretty natural to feel this way.

When we get hungry and our brains notice our blood sugar dropping, our bodies release adrenaline.

Adrenaline is our “fight-or-flight” hormone.

When it’s unleashed, it feels like panic. Our heart races. We feel panicky.

This feeling will be especially strong if you’ve had a lot of sugar or caffeine beforehand. (Ever wonder why doughnuts and coffee go so well together? It’s pretty much a perfect, self- sustaining life cycle: caffeine, crash, sugar, crash, caffeine, crash...)

We're not used to doing without food for long periods. We can access food pretty much 24 hours a day, unlike our ancestors who had to go hungry if the hunting and gathering sucked.

And there’s almost no situation where food is off-limits. We don’t consider it rude or weird to eat in our cars, at our desks, or walking down the street.

So, when the sugar shakes and the social norms collide, we have the perfect storm of “Oh my gawd I gotta eat NOW.”

Hunger is NOT an emergency.

Lean people, when asked what they did when they were hungry, their answers were revealing.

1. They would decide if they were physically hungry. If not, they would ignore the feeling. 2. If they had food around, they would eat until they were satised (not stuffed). 3. If they didn’t, they would shrug and go about their business. In no case would they panic.

Lean people aren’t just magically skinny. In part, they think differently than over-fat people about food.

• They aren’t afraid of feeling hungry. They know hunger comes and goes.

• They don’t panic when they feel hunger.

• They can tell the difference between true physical hunger, a general desire to eat, and specic food cravings.

Above all, they know: Hunger is not an emergency.

What to do today

1. Understand the hunger is not an emergency. Though it might be uncomfortable, the feeling of hunger comes and goes.

2. When you're hungry, do the following:

- Slow down for a second and pay attention. Are you really, physically hungry?

- Relax. Don't panic. Unless you've been lost in the desert without food for days, this is not an emergency. You might just be feeling an adrenaline dump. Breathe. Stay cool.

- Rank your discomfort on a scale of 1 to 10. 1 is perfect comfort. 10 is being stung to death by a swarm of killer bees... that are on fire. If what you’re feeling is a 5 or less, relax. You can deal with this.

- Take an extra 30 seconds to ask yourself: What would be the best, most thoughtful* choice possible under these particular circumstances? (*Note that we don't say "perfect".)

- As well as you can, make that thoughtful choice.

Chris, myHealthCoach

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