Slave to Hunger

“Man is free at the moment he wishes to be.” – Voltaire

It was a conversation about food and an observation about both ourselves here in Guinea and the local population. When my partner goes to work, she is there all day. No shocker there, but her schedule really doesn’t lend itself to being able to eat between her classes. So, she doesn’t eat until she gets home. I simply decided to follow suit. But the conversation we had was about her colleagues who also teach full loads and never seem to have time to grab a bite to eat. In fact, at her institution, she hasn’t seen anyone eat, or really drink that much for that matter. They just carry on. But what we have discovered is that we really don’t experience hunger pangs as frequently. When we do, it isn’t a drop-everything-and-eat. We can eat later. What we have now is a weird feeling or sensation of freedom. We can eat when it’s convenient or when we want, but not because we are uncomfortable, cranky, bitchy, or all-out miserable. How often have you experienced that? Or do you know someone that becomes a real pain in the ass because they’re “hangry”?

It goes along the lines of one of my earlier posts regarding the curse of abundance. In the West, it is so easy to stop and get a meal, or a snack, that we have come to expect our needs to be met immediately. Teachers get lunch hours and labor forces get their allotted breaks in the day. I’m not against contracted schedule breaks, but I am aware of how we behave when we don’t get them. In doing so we have become a slave to our needs. When our needs aren’t met, we become irritable, cranky, and demanding. Even as adults, we can become quite childish in our behaviors when it comes to feeling hungry or thirsty.

It isn’t that people in the bottom billion don’t get hungry or thirsty. They do. What I have witnessed here amongst them, and myself, is that you can carry on normally and eat when the time comes or the food is available. I now eat when I want to, not because I must. There is a difference, and it is a rather liberating feeling to have. My partner and I no longer get cranky just because we are uncomfortable feeling a little hungry.

Some cool tricks that will help, if you realize you get cranky when you are hungry, is to begin a practice of intermittent fasting. Also, by cutting out a large portion of the junk food and other sugar-rich foods and switching to a nutrient-rich diet (vegetables, some fruits, some nuts and meat, etc.), will cut those cravings and pangs considerably. One of the chief reasons for the discomfort and “hunger pangs” in our society is in fact not real hunger, but withdrawal symptoms. You’re “nic-fitting” and in truth, because of the abundance of food in our society, I’m willing to bet we don’t know what real hunger even feels like. Experts say we can go weeks without food, but have we ever gone a full day? Probably not. So, this will be about not being a slave to your food cravings. It will be about, over time, overcoming those cravings completely and getting to the point where you eat, not because of an addiction, but because it is necessary to our survival; eating to live, rather than living to eat.