Hunger and Fullness with PCOS
Have you ever stopped to think about how your body tells you that you need to eat or that you have had enough and should stop eating? It might sound like a funny concept, but some people report feeling very “in tune” with their body’s signals for eating while others report not really understanding their hunger and fullness “cues”. This is true for everyone as well as for girls with PCOS; it can be even more challenging if you are experiencing body image issues or are frustrated by other symptoms that might cause emotional eating. If you’re not sure whether or not you can tell when you’re hungry, try doing this activity:
On a blank sheet of paper make 4 columns. Label them on the top with these headings: starving, hungry, satisfied, and stuffed. Then write the physical and/or emotional feelings that you associate with each of those words.
Was this hard? Was it easy? If you’re having a hard time with this, here are some suggestions for feelings that some people identify with starving: headache, dizzy, tired, light headed, stomach pain, angry. For hungry sometimes people say: stomach grumbling, anxious. For satisfied some terms might be: energized, full feeling in stomach. For stuffed some terms might be: sad, tired, low motivation, feel sick.
Once you are in tune with how your body tells you about feeling hungry and full, you can use this as a tool. For example, you can try to always keep yourself feeling hungry and satisfied, because if you get to the point of feeling starving, you might be likely to eat until you feel stuffed. You can also use this as a tool to figure out if you are eating for reasons other than hunger. This is common and people often identify doing it when they are bored, stressed out, angry, upset, or sad. If you find that you are often eating when you are not hungry, you might consider meeting with a counselor or registered dietitian. They can help you identify the triggers that you have for eating without hunger and find alternative ways to deal with those stressors. For example if you tend to eat when you are angry, you might try taking an exercise or dance class as an alternative.
Occasionally eating when you’re not hungry, such as having cake at a birthday celebration, is normal! However, be aware that frequently eating when you’re not hungry can lead to weight gain and an unhealthy relationship with food.