Extreme Hunger.

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So, when I first started eating more and exercising less, I did a lot of research on Your Eatopia and other sources so I knew what to expect. One thing I kept coming across was the idea of ‘Extreme Hunger‘.  Considering that I wasn’t coming from a place of extreme restriction or from being extremely underweight, I didn’t think that I would experience it at all.

Extreme Hunger

So, imagine my surprise when it hit me a few weeks ago. I was sitting at the computer and it was time for me to eat a morning snack. So I got up, went to the fridge, and grabbed a piece of banana bread. I sat back down, ate it…and didn’t feel satisfied.

So I went back for another.

And another.

And another.

And another..

And then, I felt satisfied…only to be hungry again for lunch 90 minutes later.

After a period of restriction, your body is in desperate need of energy. Not only is your body trying to restore you back to your optimal weight, your body is trying to repair a LOT of damage. I wasn’t coming from a  disordered place, but I hadn’t been eating enough for my body to properly fuel my exercise level. Combine that with anorexia in my past…yup, my body had some big repairs to do.


		
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Robyn had a great post about this a few weeks ago that differentiated between binge eating and hunger. I think it’s easy to confuse the two, and it’s why a lot of people feel like they’ve developed Binge Eating Disorder or an addiction to food or to sugar. It makes sense – the best I could describe the sensation was feeling ‘empty’…I wasn’t necessarily hungry or starving, but there was some sort of void. Like I was hungry, but I wasn’t hungry – but I knew I needed to eat.

My experiences with it was actually pretty mild compared to a lot of others. I’ve read accounts of people who would experience extreme hunger to the point of eating 6000-10000 calories per day, every day, for months at a time. Mine was/(is?) considerably more mild – it happened on and off, about twice a week for 2-3 weeks (and nowhere near 6000 calories), then it seemed to taper off. I haven’t noticed it in the last week or so, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone – it could come back.

But, the important thing is this situation is to LISTEN to your body. Your body is begging for food for a reason – it needs adequate nutrition in order to repair the damage that restriction does to your organs, bones, cognitive abilities, metabolism and hormones.`

And of course, do not try to ‘make up’ after experiences of extreme hunger. Do NOT restrict, do NOT ‘burn it off’…your body needed that extra energy and it’s going to a good place. So trying to expend that extra energy is not a good idea at all.


		
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Having the knowledge that I did, even though it caught me off guard, I was able to recognize EH for what it was and respond to it properly, and like I was told would happen…it tapered off. So, if this is happening to you, trust that your body knows what it’s doing and listen to it’s signals.

Have a good one!

<— Anyone ever experience a sensation like this?

<— Any thoughts on this?

89 Comments

  1. Haha I know the feeling! I’m trying to weight restore atm, resting and refeeding and am glued to your eatopia most of the time. Extreme hunger has been with me since Friday, I woke up about midnight last night RAVENOUS (even though I’d gone to bed stuffed to the brim), went to the kitchen and couldn’t get the food down fast enough it’s scary but normal, like you said I’m just trying to listen to my body when it calls. Glad things are going well for you lovely <3
    Victoria recently posted..Trusting The ProcessMy Profile

  2. Sam, you are making remarkable steps to improve your health and with these sort of ‘road blocks’- you are overcoming them with such a superior mindset- great job.

    From personal experience, I went through a stage of increased hunger and can totally relate to the ‘void’ feeling- feeling sort of full but not satisfied.

    Something that occurs to me ALL the time now is not being hungry but knowing I need to eat so I eat then BOOM. It’s like the hungry monster has arrived.
    Arman @ thebigmansworld recently posted..3 Ingredient [Sweet and Salty] Grain Free CookiesMy Profile

  3. Hungry? Eat. I love that… it’s so true that many people ignore hunger cues but I’m glad to hear you didn’t! You are making great progress which makes me so happy for you I don’t know if I’ve ever experienced extremeeee hunger, but I do always carry a snack of some sort with me so when hunger strikes I am prepared.
    Erin @ The Almond Eater recently posted..Weekend in Farmington, PAMy Profile

  4. High five Sam!..for equipping yourself with the knowledge, heeding and acknowledging Extreme Hunger when it came..and most of all: honoring the hunger – ohmygosh so scary! I think not everyone likes to admit they were – in some way – restricting the body’s intake, unintentionally or not and are quick to believe they’re bingeing.
    I have quite the collection of stories regarding Extreme Hunger, and while I can stand to be amused now..at the time it was anything but.
    It happens sometimes happens nowadays and I shock myself with how I embrace it

    • Definitely! if you asked me 4-5 months ago if I was eating enough, I would have assured you I was (and I honestly thought that I had been)…when clearly, that wasn’t the case. Great that you embrace the hunger when you feel it!

  5. It’s awesome how honest and open you are about these sorts of things. You are a true inspiration for a lot of woman and thank you for sharing. I’ve never had personal experience with this but I know there have been times that I have just been hungry to the point I’m eating almost every hour.
    Hollie recently posted..The B WordMy Profile

  6. High five Sam!..for equipping yourself with the knowledge, heeding and acknowledging Extreme Hunger when it came..and most of all: honoring the hunger – ohmygosh so scary! I think not everyone likes to admit they were – in some way – restricting the body’s intake, unintentionally or not and are quick to believe they’re bingeing.
    I have quite the collection of stories regarding Extreme Hunger, and while I can stand to be amused now..at the time it was anything but.
    It sometimes happens nowadays and I shock myself with how I embrace it

  7. Welcome to my life! Extreme hunger is a normal part of my day. I’m so thrilled to hear you are actually honouring your hunger though. It’s incredible how many emails I get from people every week who basically ask me what they should do as they feel extremely hungry…. um, eat? I will send them this post!
    Tara @ Sweat like a Pig recently posted..Time to step up my overhead gameMy Profile

    • Thanks Tara! It’s crazy how uncomfortable people can be with following their body’s signals – I hope your clients find the post reassuring!

  8. I have, but I mostly get out of control around sugar. It’s like a demon that possesses me & makes me over eat it. From personal experience when I’ve been eating too many refined foods my true hunger signals get all out of whack. It’s probably different for each person – hormonal balance plays a huge role.

    Sharing your health journey is such an inspiration, Sam! Keep at it, sweetness!

  9. I still remember being so freaking confused when I first got serious about recovery and started eating more… I suddenly became RAVENOUS all the time, which didn’t make sense to me since I was eating more food. It was like… shouldn’t it be the other way around? Recovery is seriously such a mind f*ck. And the craziest thing was that that eventually tapered off, only to reappear when I was already weight restored and and what I thought was in the clear. I wouldn’t say I experience it so much anymore, but there are definitely times where I can’t seem to feel satisfied for more than 20 minutes, and when I’m constantly snacking — you know this But you’re right… in times like those, the best thing to do is just eat.
    Amanda @ .running with spoons. recently posted... vanilla cake batter smoothie .My Profile

    • It’s weird, right? I’m pretty sure that the amount of food I was eating in a day a year ago I’m eating before dinner these days, but now my current intake feels a lot more natural to me. I think that’s why I was thrown off so much – I don’t remember feeling EH when I was trying to restore my weight, so having it appear now seemed a little strange. But just have to keep going with my body’s signals.

  10. I love how you honor the signals of your body girl.
    I know my bulimia had a lot to do with me not feeding it well enough – for years, I cut out so many important nutrients, so bingeing was the solution for my body to at least get in some calories.
    It’s amazing how my cravings tapered off once I started balancing my diet out with carbs and fats and more protein (the only things I used to eat were yogurts, apples and veggies). Our bodies are just the smartest things in the world!
    Lucie@FitSwissChick recently posted..2nd Part of #LauraandLucie in Switzerland – the BirthdaypartMy Profile

    • yup – your body was desperate for energy and nutrients! Once we start treating them right, they respond in kind.

  11. I totally had this post-HA. It has lessened now but there was definitely a period where I’d be hit with EH and feel like I would never, ever be full. Fighting it was futile because it made me more hungry!
    Claire @ Flake and Cake recently posted..Paleo Vegan BologneseMy Profile

    • I know what you mean – it feels like no matter how much you eat, you can’t get satisfied…but our bodies clearly need it, so we should be listening!

  12. I always love reading your experiences with eating more. They are always so honest and informative. There are definitely times when I have extreme Hunger. They always come at the least expected times!
    Sarah @ Feeeding the Brain and Body recently posted..Lemon Lime Muffins – with a WIAW postMy Profile

  13. This is a super post, Sam! Our bodies are smart cookies- first they whisper and if we choose to ignore their requests, they start to roar i.e. rev up our appetite like no other! After realising I was eating too little to sustain my activity levels, I started to eat more and much to my surprise, I was getting hungrier. At first I was nervous but then started to embrace a grumbling stomach- for me, it signifies a sign of health and that my metabolism is actually working. And if you ask me, the best way to celebrate that is to honor our hunger and EAT!
    Khushboo recently posted..Happiness from weight lossMy Profile

  14. I kind of feel like my extreme hunger is “runger” from long runs… it’s a 2-3 ordeal and really bad on the last day – like you said, eating every 90 minutes. Maybe I should try eating more the day of a long run so my body isn’t trying to make up the fuel I burned?? Great post, I’m going to have to do some experimenting now!
    Cassie recently posted..Gluten Free Bagels with Chocolate Almond Cream Cheese [Product Review]My Profile

    • It’s definitely worth experimenting with!

      • Completely agree with runger. I just completed my first marathon and during the last 3 weeks of tapering (reducing exercise to prepare and store carbs) i was hungry aaaaaaallllllllll the time.. The signs of extreme hunger is for sure my body telling me its trying to restore my muscles and hormones after putting it into 18+ weeks of ongoing stress and training, but with disordered eating its still always hard to convince yourself its okay to consume that high of calories without the exercise part.

  15. Thanks for sharing Sam I have recently also experienced what you describe, and it all started happening when I actually was increasing what I was eating. I just started working with a nutritionist to help me figure out how much and what I should be eating because the whole process is scary. I was baffled by how much more she says I should eat just for weight maintenance – a lot more, and a lot more healthy fats. I am hoping that listening to her and eating more and on a consistent basis is going to help kick some of the extreme hunger. It feels so uncomfortable, but trying to stick with it!
    Lindsay @Treat Yourself recently posted..On Being EnoughMy Profile

    • Definitely stick with it! The sort of diets that mainstream promotes (1200-1500) diets are not even remotely close to enough to how much we need to fuel our bodies! Stick with your nutritionist’s advice and I’m sure you’ll see a big difference in how you feel down the line!

  16. Sometimes it is soooo hard for me to tell true hunger from stress or lack of energy (like, sleep energy). I’ve been really hungry lately though, so bring on the snacks, I guess. Next time feel free to share that banana bread…
    Tiff @ Love Sweat & Beers recently posted..Marvelous in My Mother’s DayMy Profile

    • that’s fair – I definitely notice an increase in hunger when i’m tired – body needs more energy then, I suppose! And no promises

  17. I think so. There have definitely been periods over the past few months especially where I’m constantly hungry, regardless of whether or not I had run or done any sort of physical activity, and for the first time, I’ve listened and not fought it. Sure, it’s made me uncomfortable, but my body is smarter than I am, and I know there are times it still needs to catch up from the past few years. Not easy to do but definitely important
    Caitlin recently posted..Solo TrippinMy Profile

    • Proud of you for listening to your body hun! I agree that it’s uncomfortable, but our bodies know what they need better than our minds do.

  18. I have definitely experiences the extreme hunger thing, without having been in recovery from past disordered eating. I agree with what you’re saying – in general, when you’re hungry it typically means you should eat! However, I do find that I feel quite a lot of shame about my appetite (I can easily as much if not more than my husband). While other people seem okay with just eating a salad or whatever at dinner when we’re out, I CANNOT DO IT. I just need something more; always have. At the same time, I’ve recently read that a healthy appetite is a sign of a good metabolism, though – so that’s definitely a good thing!

    • I can’t do it either! I can outeat my boyfriend at times too, which is a little embarrassing…but I just go with it. Like you said, it’s a sign that we have a healthy, functioning metabolism!

  19. So interesting! I experienced this more when I was more active. Honestly, now that I’ve cut down on exercise, it’s been such a relief to eat and then feel satisfied. It sort of makes me never want to be super active again lol. It’s easy to forget that when you’re doing a lot of activity, you need to eat more than you normally would which was something I was never good at!
    Davida @ The Healthy Maven recently posted..Chocolate Matcha Energy Balls + An Energy Ball Round-Up!My Profile

    • It’s something that I definitely struggled with too – it’s actually a little bit frustrating now to think back about how much more progress I could have seen if I had been fueling myself better over the years!

  20. Yep, I’ve been there. At first it was really hard to accept even though my RD warned me it might happen. I was sure I was going maintain my “control” and not let it happen but it did and you know what? My body did stop craving extreme amounts of food. Thanks for sharing this- I’m sure there are so many girls out there going through the exact same thing. I know I was just a few months ago and it has finally calmed down. Whether or not it’s forever, I know it’s normal.
    Sarah @pickyrunner recently posted..Pump the BreaksMy Profile

  21. Thank you for discussing issues like this, Sam! I really respect you for being so open and honest. I think I’ve experienced extreme hunger before and it’s good to know that there is a real reason behind it instead of just writing it off as a binge. Our bodies are so complex and I like being able to understand the reasons behind the things that it does.
    Kaila @healthyhelperblog! recently posted..Nakd Bar FLASH! GiveawayMy Profile

    • Definitely complex – I don’t think we’ll ever completely understand bodies and how they work. Thanks for the kind words!

  22. It’s really hard to try and decipher whether or not you are doing the right thing (eating more) or doing the wrong thing (not eating enough) and when your head tells you that the right thing to do is eat less, it’s a battle – one I used to struggle to fight.

    However the main thing was learning to listen to your body. If it needs more, it will let you know. Easier said than done but both you and I certainly seem to be doing it more and more yay to progress and recovery!
    Jen @ Chase the Red Grape recently posted..CrossFit – The Best Way To Start The Day!My Profile

    • It’s definitely a struggle, especially when everything promoted in the media tells us that the answer is always to eat less. Learning to listen to your body is definitely a learning process, but worth it in the end, for sure.

  23. This is definitely something that I’ve had happen to me before. I’ve always equated it with that time of the month, but I never really thought about the fact that maybe it was due to the fact that I haven’t adequately nourished myself. This is very interesting, but makes a lot of sense. The other thing I’ve experienced is sometimes I wonder if my hunger stems out of stress or boredom – like I think I’m hungry, but I’m really not. Sometimes it’s hard to differentiate the two.
    Holly @ EatGreatBEGreat recently posted..First Trimester in ReviewMy Profile

    • It can be a challenge to differentiate, for sure…but it sounds like there’s a pretty good chance that you were just hungry!

  24. Yep. I know about EH all too well. I remember being deep in my ED, about two years ago, I let myself eat “normally” while at my parent’s house, with a hardy meal of meatloaf, roasted potatoes, and brussel sprouts. I remember eating a good full plate, and then still being hungry. So I took more meatloaf. And then more potatoes. And then more meat. My stomach was just an empty hole. I felt like everyone at the table was looking at me, marveling at how I was managing to eat probably double what my brother and dad had just eaten. Looking back, my body was just really, really hungry. It’s confusing and kind of embarrassing but that’s what happens when you ignore your body’s cues for months on end.
    Rebecca recently posted..An Exhausting Start to the WeekendMy Profile

    • It’s definitely confusing – i’ve been fortunate with being at home alone when it happens, so I have no witnesses except the dog, lol. But yup, our bodies definitely will eventually fight back against restriction!

  25. Wow!! This is such an interesting post. I am really happy to have read this, because I have been dealing with some form of extreme hunger lately and I have been writing it off as having “no control” over what I’m eating or just eating out of boredom or because I am home working in front of a computer all day. I am not necessarily coming from a place of restriction, but definitely a place where I monitor my eating very closely when I don’t really need to do that. I will definitely be looking into “Your Eatopia”– good for you for knowing the difference between EH and just being hungry and trying to burn it off later. Thanks for this awesome post!!
    Jordan @ The Blonde Vegan recently posted..Q&A with The Raw Food SistersMy Profile

  26. I feel like maybe a few years ago I did experience something like this. Back in the dining hall days of college, coming off being a little too skinny in high school for my build. I would only eat salad with chicken there because I didn’t really like anything else they had, and then I would eat a lot of cereal and other random things like nut butter later in my room and I never felt full. I didn’t realize there was a distinction between binge eating/extreme hunger but that’s really interesting.
    Ang @ Nutty for Life recently posted..Things That Have Happened In MayMy Profile

    • it’s an interesting phenomenon, for sure – our bodies are smart and do what they have to do to get the necessary nutrition they need!

  27. Oh yes, I remember this feeling. I’m glad you’ve been able to listen and respond to your body, giving it exactly what it’s asking for – FOOD. You’re teaching and helping a lot of people by being so open about your journey through this. Keep it up!
    Jaclyn @ BumpSweat recently posted..Motivation & Inspiration Monday: Make Home-Brewed KombuchaMy Profile

  28. I love that you share and open up like you do about your past [and current] situations. We need more people spreading the word on topics such as this in the world.
    Cori @ olivetorun.com recently posted...confessions. they’re back.My Profile

  29. You’re always so open and honest about a topic that scares a lot of people and I think it’s awesome. It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there but it’s giving a place for others who share similar struggles to come and connect.

    Overall, I think it’s great advice to listen to your body. When you’re hungry, it means you need to eat!
    Sarah @ Making Thyme for Health recently posted..Our Wedding: Reception DecorMy Profile

  30. Thank you for this post!! I am still battling with the extreme hunger…I hate it, give in and eat, then punish myself later with extreme workouts or restricting. It’s a horrible, vicious cycle but I am working on it each day!! Thanks again for this!

  31. I never heard of this before but it explains so much. Unfortunately, I can’t give up my anorexia but the times that I’ve been in treatment or actually let myself eat I’ve had that experience. I always thought that I was becoming a binge eater or had the potential too which of course caused me to feel awful/guilty/etc and immediately relapse!

    This info really helps if I ever get back “on track”…thanks!

    • I’ll keep you in my thoughts kan – that wasn’t binge eating, it was your body trying to get the nutrition and energy it desperately needs. Good luck in recovery!

  32. I go through this when running a lot!
    Matt @ Runner Savvy recently posted..Dallas Rock N’ Roll Half Marathon Race ReportMy Profile

  33. Ahh – I read your recovery posts with enthusiasm – and Robyn’s post was excellent. Just not quite there myself yet…
    Emily @ It Comes Naturally Blog recently posted..What I ate Wednesday #18: intuitive eatingMy Profile

  34. i so agree! Your body will YELL at you when you need that food. So often we think we “can’t.” but oh we can, we need that nourishment

  35. I’m so glad you are listening to your body and eating intuitively, even though it might seem like way more food than a typical person needs. Hunger is your body’s signal that it needs something, so we need to learn to listen to it! Our body isn’t good at keeping us skinny, it’s good at keeping us healthy and nourished. So proud of you for overcoming these roadblocks, you’re doing so amazing!
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  38. Thank you for this! I’ve gone through a few of these recently and it did ‘worry’ me a bit, I try to eat when hungry and not overanalyse it but when you’re having a day when you don’t feel so great about your body anyways it can get a bit much! Nice to know we all seem to get it…
    Pip {Cherries & Chisme} recently posted..Open Your EyesMy Profile

  39. Great post girl! So proud of you for making strides in your health, you are doing awesome. I am hungry a LOT and I will always listen to my body and eat, regardless of when I ate. Our bodies are smarter than we think
    Brittany Lesser recently posted..Day 2 – The City and NapaMy Profile

  40. What an awesome post! I am still severely underweight because of health complications from celiac disease and as I’ve begun to eat more, I’ve noticed that I do experience moments where I wonder if I can fit the whole fridge in my mouth. It’s so reassuring to read that this is normal and isn’t binge eating! Great Post and I LOVE your blog!
    Casey @ Casey the College Celiac recently posted..Celiac and Wisdom Teeth: Part 2My Profile

    • absolutely normal – your body is just trying to bring you back up to where it wants to be. And thank you Casey!

  41. Yes. I have (and still continue) to experience this sometimes. It’s such a weird sensation, isn’t it? I’m far from being underweight now but obviously my body still has a lot of recovering to do.

    Thank you for another amazing post. You are seriously inspiring, lady.
    xoxo
    Emily recently posted..girly goodiesMy Profile

  42. Totally hear you on this…I don’t recall it as much when I was recovering from amenorrhea (that was a good 13 or so years ago) but I do recall it now. My hungry days, those days after my hard long runs where out of nowhere, I just need to keep eating. My stomach isn’t rumbling but I need food. And when I give in to it, wow I feel so much better! The body knows what it needs and when we become good at listening, we can respond with good food choices and help our systems function properly.
    meredith @ The Cookie ChRUNicles recently posted..Quick and Easy Whole Wheat Pizza BitesMy Profile

  43. Wow. So yeah, this has most definitely happened to me before. And ya know, I think early on when I was in the deepest with my calorie counting, most of my binges were probably because I wasn’t eating enough to properly fuel my body after all the exercise/restriction. Now, since I no longer restrict my diet, I can sort of figure out where most of my overeating/binges come from…either my improper way of handling stress or from being overly tired. Honestly, it’s harder to recognize when it’s due to the latter since my body is always a little confused when it comes to sleeping, but today was actually a PERFECT example. I slept for about 8 hours, but it was crummy sleep…a lot of tossing and turning. I got up, made an egg scramble (with WHOLE eggs) and ate. Less than an hour later, I was hungry again so I made some cinnamon toast. Less than an hour later, I was hungry AGAIN so I grabbed a bar and left the house to run some errands. I was out and about for the next 3 hours…and I was dragging. When I got back home, it was just like you said, it was like I was hungry, but I wasn’t hungry. I laid down for a nap for about an hour and guess what? I felt like a whole new person! It’s so crazy…it’s like, sometimes I don’t know when it’s just a little morning grogginess that I need to push through or actually sleep deprivation that I need to make up for!
    Heather @ Kiss My Broccoli recently posted..Farmers’ Market FrolickingMy Profile

    • sleep is definitely something that can screw with your hunger signals! I’ve worked a couple of night-shift jobs, and I found that I was a lot hungrier on days when I wasn’t sleeping enough.

  44. Yesss that’s it’s exactly it- it’s a void that takes a long time to fill! However chocolate helps me a lot

    Congrats to you on listening to your body to help it heal!

    P.s now I want banana bread

  45. hi sam.. currently struggling with this right now and i just came across this post. it helps so much to see that others go through this. right now i’m just listening to ever hunger cue, no matter how much anxiety is accompanied. i hope it will get better soon. thank you again

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