Being Hungry Is Not a Virtue

I’m writing this blog post while in the middle of a test that requires I fast while taking it. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour test. I’ve already been fasting since 7pm yesterday, and I’m HUNGRY!!!

My hunger brings up many thoughts and feelings, which I feel the need to share. Please know that because I’m undernourished in this moment, my thoughts may come out in an unfocused manner—I require food to think clearly!

Something that came up for me this morning is the sadness I feel for my young self who thought being hungry was a virtue. In the dieting and eating disorder days of my youth (which lasted close to a decade), I remember thinking I was a “good” person when I was hungry. The hungrier the better, because it meant I was staying on my diet and could possibly become smaller. Such a waste of those precious days of my life!

My heart aches for all of the people in the world who, right now, are trying to be “good” by denying their hunger in order to lose weight. There is so much moral judgment in our culture around weight and eating, so I understand the motivation, but the diet culture messages truly fucks up our ability to listen to our bodies’ needs for nourishment, while sucking all pleasure and flavor out of life!

I want to acknowledge that there are many reasons people don’t feel hungry (e.g., experiencing depression, anxiety, trauma, or grief). Not feeling hungry when struggling with emotional issues that mask hunger is different from being hungry and choosing not to eat. If you have things happening in your life that make it hard for you to eat, please honor your experience and know it’s okay whatever you feel. And, if needed, please seek help to ensure that you get enough nourishment while you’re dealing with hard times.

If you’re not eating when you’re hungry, you deserve to get support to break free of diet culture and move towards a peaceful place with your body.

I also want to address that there are way too many people in the world who are hungry and don’t have enough food to eat. This is a crime! Brains and bodies don’t function when malnourished. It is imperative that people, especially children, have enough food to eat.

So, my request of you if you’re moved to take action and have the means to do so, is to please donate to your local food bank (you can find it here), or to national or international organizations that are working to end hunger, including getting food and other life-saving supplies to children in Gaza who desperately help. I’ve listed a few organizations below that I support along with my local food bank. Thank you!


World Food Programme

Feeding America

. . .

I’m still really hungry! I’m dreaming about and starting to salivate over the food I will eat when my time is up, which is thankfully soon.

A memory just popped into my head of a day when my daughter Carmen was in middle school and we both somehow missed lunch. We got home at the end of a long day and stood in the kitchen bingeing on anything we could get our hands on, mostly foods high in fat and sugar because that’s what happens when one is deprived of nourishment. It’s a physiological response that has kept humans alive during times of famine. What smart bodies we have!

Carmen told me how much her stomach still hurt, even though she was eating. It was a perfect opportunity for me to explain that this is how people who go on diets feel most of the time. You can imagine my joy when she said, “I’m NEVER going to diet, Mom! This is a horrible feeling!” And to this day, she’s never gone on a calorie-restrictive diet.

If you’re stuck in diet culture or struggling with an eating disorder, please know you deserve to be free of suffering. You can call the National Alliance for Eating Disorders hotline or you might find help by taking The Body Positive’s Fundamentals Home Study Course to learn practical tools to make peace with your body and food. And if you have loved ones, friends, or students in your life who are struggling, please share these resources with them. And please send me an email if you need further assistance.

My final thought before I go nourish myself, is to say I hope you will be loving and gentle with yourself as we move through the holidays. Food and eating are a big part of celebrating, so enjoy yourself! Balance will come if you stay in touch with your body. Stay tuned for my annual writing about my need to be squishy during the winter months :).

Fasting time is over! Hallelujah!!!  It’s time for my egg, veggie, toast, and cheese breakfast. Know that I will be savoring every single bite! And I hope you savor as many moments of this beautiful day as you can <3.

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