The rhythm of hunger

by Dr. Ellen Cullman, FLT Columnist

The general meaning of rhythm is anything that occurs with regularity. You think of rhythm when you consider music or poetry. In music the cadence brings life to a song.  In poetry the inflection brings meaning to the arrangement of words.

You can also think of rhythm in relation to natural phenomena such as the ebb and flow of the tides, the migration of birds, and the seasons of the year. There are rhythms in the course of a week as you plod through your agenda-driven work days and into your weekend.

There are rhythms in the flow of a day. Your morning has aspects you experience that are different from your afternoon and your evening. Some of you may waken easily each morning ready to launch into your day. Others of you may reluctantly stir and then feel your full steam after lunch.

Your body has natural rhythms. For example, when you sleep your body moves through stages where some are more active than others depending on what scientists call REM – rapid eye movement. Breathing and your life-giving heartbeat that reflect the pace of your pulse are with you from the beginning to the end of your life. They are like your personal, rhythmic symphony bellowed with your first breath.

Another natural rhythm of your body is your sense of hunger. Learning to pay attention to your hunger is one of the most important lessons in mindful eating that I teach. Why is sensing your hunger so important? As a baby, it was important so you would eat and not starve. How about for you today? Is sensing your hunger important for your well-being?

As adults, some of you may have unknowingly moved away from typically eating when you are hungry. You may eat according to the clock – breakfast, lunch, dinner, snack – without any regard for your natural hunger rhythm. You may eat when you are full just to finish cleaning your plate. You may eat whenever you see food, are anxious, or even just thirsty without noticing if, in your body, you sense your true hunger.

When you do not eat in response to your true hunger rhythms, you are missing an important cue for your physical and mental well-being. You will not starve, but do you know how to meet your true needs – physically and mentally – if you are not really hungry?

The summer mindful eating workshop begins on June 7th and the fall workshop on September 6th at 975 Commerce Dr. in Perrysburg. Call 419-494-7699 or email  for information or to schedule an individual appointment with The Mindful Eating Coach, Ellen Cullman, Ph.D.