‘Hunger is the best seasoning’

by Dr. Ellen Cullman, FLT Columnist

“Hunger is the best seasoning.” This quote is from Ken Follett’s book, The Pillars of the Earth. I love this quote because it is so true. If you test it out for yourself, you will find that Ken Follett is right. The problem is that many people have trouble testing it out because they cannot wait until they are hungry. Some people say they never feel hungry but they eat because they cognitively know their body needs nourishment. That seems like an un-pleasurable way to eat to me.

How do you know when to eat? I don’t mean by looking at the clock but rather how hungry do you allow yourself to feel before you eat? Do you notice your body’s hunger sensations speaking to you before you eat? Or does the necessity to eat sneak up on you because you are so occupied with something else that you ignore your body’s hunger signals? In that case, eating may suddenly become an urgent chore because you have no idea what you want other than to not be hungry.

Or before hunger is urgent, do you mindfully recognize it approaching and estimate that you will need to eat in an hour or two? As you continue doing what ever you are doing, do you mull over in your mind what you will eat when you are ready? I call this mind-body testing. It is a casual process of considering the pros and cons of what you desire to eat and how comfortable that food will feel in your stomach. Will you feel that your food is digesting or causing you to bloat — especially about 20 minutes after you finish eating? At times you desire a decadent treat (notice I’m not calling it sinful), other times you follow your “wholly” desires (as in wholesome) and most of the time you achieve a reasonable and agreeable negotiation between your mind and your body coupled with your caring soul of non-judgment.

If you are curious, give the “hunger seasoning” a test. Select a food you are fond of eating and a meal you come to with a lot of hunger. Let your first bite at that meal be the food you are seasoning with hunger. Pause while you chew it, examining its taste. Then do the same thing in the middle of the meal and at the end of the meal. In this way you taste the food at different levels of your hunger during the meal. What do you experience? Is hunger the best seasoning?

See all of Dr. Cullman’s columns at http://www.firstlocaltoledo.com/columnists/dr-ellen-cullman. For information about coaching sessions and speaking engagements call 419-494-7699 or email mindfuleatingcoach@gmail.com.