In Eat to Live, there was a section that talked about "True Hunger".
(You can read more of the section here.)Eat to Live by Joel Fuhrman, M.D.Once your body gets to a certain level of better health, you begin to feel the difference between true hunger and just eating due to desire, appetite, or withdrawal symptoms. Your body is healthier at this stage and you won't experience the withdrawal symptoms such as weakness, headaches, lightheadedness, etc., that most people associate with hunger.
Words like "true" scare me so I wanted to wait a bit before I shared my thoughts on this.
Today is the first day of the third week of this diet, so while I am by no means an authority, my experience is becoming a bit more stable.
One thing that happened, even after the first week, was that everything tasted very different. My eyes and brain told me that "that fish looks good" or "that lettuce looks bland" or "that apple's probably sour"... However, when some fish broth ended up in my soup, it tasted oily and weird. When I ate the lettuce, it tasted sweet and rich. When I ate the apple, I felt like I was eating some sort of magic fruit. Now, I've grown accustomed to the wonderful taste of vegetables and fruits and would never have believed that I would be enjoying them so much.
In addition to the change in the way things taste, my cravings and hunger have changed a lot. First of all, I don't feel hungry very much. I feel hungry when my body starts to run out of energy. Exercising accelerates my hunger. The hunger isn't so much a craving as a sort of "running out of batteries" feeling. It actually feels good because I feel like I'm cleansing my system... sort of like when you empty a glass of water. Although this may be my imagination, when I sit down to a meal after this sort of hunger, I can feel the point (about half-way through the meal) where the energy starts to flow into my system and I become more alert and energetic.
This is a complete contrast to my former "hunger". It was often between meals (probably a drop in blood sugar) or when I saw something that looked or smelled oily or sweet. I could feel my blood sugar swinging around all day and cravings for quick calories chased it around. Also, around 5 PM every night, I would get an urge to have a drink to unwind and satisfy some other sort of craving. While I still get the "mmm... yummy smell" feeling when I smell something good, I don't get the craving pang I used to get.
I am tracking my food intake and tracking various things like my calories, my protein/carbohydrate/fat intake ratio and nutrients. Interestingly, I've noticed that even though I eat until I'm full every meal, I'm coming in slightly under my daily calorie target and my ratio is relatively balanced. When I'm eating a meal, I can feel myself getting "full" on carbohydrates, wanting more protein, etc. This may be a total hallucination, but it almost feels like I can taste the protein in that piece of broccoli or spoon of beans and my body balances my ratio through my hunger.
I realize that staring at my stats and being aware of all of this doesn't make this a very controlled experiment, but the basic notion here is rather interesting and something I'd like to explore. Is it possible to "clean your mind and pallet" to the point where your body tells you what nutrients it needs and allow you to follow your instinct instead of keeping track of everything? People who are on the ETL diet all tell me, don't worry about it, just eat what you need. At first I thought it was a way to get your mind off of the fact that you were on a diet. Now, I'm considering the possibility that your body is doing the calculations for you.
I realize that it's unlikely that your body will tell you that you need B12 and make you forage for B12 bearing bacteria or your Omega-3 deficiency will send you running for Flax Oil, but the idea that healthy bodies self-regulate is an extremely novel and obvious idea and I'm very excited to test it some more.