A little over two years ago when Garrett + I decided to embark on this Paleo adventure together we were both a little leery. It was so different from what we knew that neither of us could really envision what this lifestyle looked like long term. We decided to commit for a short period of time, but after only a few weeks things felt so dramatically different that we decided to just wing it and learn as we went.
One of the most memorable of my positive Paleo consequences (and trust me there were quite a few in those first few months) was that I noticed I stopped feeling REALLY hungry. That ravenous feeling that would overtake me at about 10:30 every morning and would show up again during that mid-afternoon slump was basically gone. It wasn’t that I never wanted to eat, but I remember constantly feeling satisfied to my core — no will power needed. When I finally read It Starts With Food a few months ago, one of the most compelling things that stuck out to me was the explanation of why that happened.
It turns out Satiation (that feeling of fullness and satisfaction) is set up to work as a direct reflection of your body’s nutritional Satiety. Plainly said, your body is naturally programmed to indicate fullness when your nutritional needs have been met. I always thought they were just two forms of one word, but in fact they are different functions in your body. When you are eating a diet full of a variety of whole foods, your body let’s you know what it needs. It’s when we start eating some of that marginal, processed crippety crap that things get a little trickier. (The book continues to explain this, but I don’t plan to keep going because me explaining science is just sad. :P)
But it makes so much sense. It’s why it is so much easier to consume 600 calories worth of potato chips than it is to consume 600 calories of broccoli. Your body registers fullness in fairly direct proportion to the nutritional density of the food you’re eating. I think this is something that I’ve always understood at a physiological level, but it was interesting how simply the book explained our hunger mechanism. And ever since reading that I have enjoyed paying attention to it in my everyday life. But it’s not only at the dinner table that I am noticing this to be true.
I had a pretty serious discussion with Garrett this weekend that started off kind of light. We were talking about what we have on our plates through the end of the year and he mentioned how it would be awesome if we could just “be normal” for a little while. After doing a Whole 30, finding a stray dog (with bonus digestive issues!) prepping for my presentation in Colorado and then following that right up with embarking on my Skin Care Experiment which most notably had me giving up my beloved caffeine for 30 days – things have been slowly building up to a fever pitch of overwhelm. And all the while, just for shits and giggles, I have also been prepping to run a half marathon, which will finally come to fruition on Sunday (more on that later this week.) Things eventually went from a light-hearted funny discussion, to both of us admitting we are pretty exhausted from all of the juggling.
And if I am being honest, despite my Very Full Plate, I am NOT overflowing with Life Satiation right now. Mostly I just feel tired, and even sometimes lately I feel a touch sad. It’s not that I can’t look around and see the wealth of awesome things I have going on in my life, because I can (and I do!) But mostly it is that I can’t quite kick this nagging feeling of hunger. I spend a lot of time making lists, setting goals, trying new things, and pushing myself through new challenges. I am ambitious, accomplished, and the badge I wear most proudly: I AM DISCIPLINED. At this point though, my discipline is just a way of life and it’s somewhat scary to contemplate operating on a different level. But I’m starting to think my Type A Drive To Achieve is really just a whole lot of energy consumption, without a whole lot of nourishment. My life is currently the nutritional equivalent of a very bountiful basket of Halloween candy. And right now I’m not quite sure what to do about that.
It’s not a bad thing, really, it just kind of *IS* right now. So I am doing lots of thinking, lots of resting, and lots of marinating. Also, I’m breaking rules. You see despite my October Intention of reducing my commitments, I am making just one more that I plan to honor for the next couple of months. I’m committing right here in this moment, and in this space (you all are my witnesses!) to figuring this stuff out. I’ve been going on and on about it for some time so I think it is finally time to stop some of the crazy making and figure out what it is that I am truly hungry for.
And if my Paleo journey is any indication, I am hoping in the end that it will feel like second nature and that it will taste delicious.