Just what exactly is true hunger? Most of us, myself included often times mistake appetite for hunger – we simply want to eat or there is food in front of us so we unconsciously tell ourselves we are hungry. Other times, what we think is hunger really is our body detoxifying from the nutritionally-poor food we are feeding it – think symptoms like headaches, irritability, cravings, fatigue, brain fog, or light-headedness. When we feed our body food lacking in the various array of micronutrients and phytochemicals, like animal products, processed foods, stimulants and oil-rich foods, digestion leads to the production of toxic metabolites and an increase in inflammation (1). As our body tries to eliminate these toxins, the uncomfortable symptoms already mentioned occur. Instead of recognizing these symptoms as positive signs of detoxification and allowing the body to continue cleaning house per se, we view the symptoms negatively, call them hunger pains, and try to rectify the symptoms with food. Dr. Fuhrman calls this “toxic hunger”. Eating will signal to the body to stop detoxifying and concentrate its energy on digesting once again, thus eliminating the toxic hunger pains. Ironically we then eat the same nutritionally poor food that will just cause the unwanted cycle to continue. This is one reason why so many people snack throughout the day, even if its just a piece of chocolate, a coffee, some candy, crackers or whatever else it might be, they are trying to stop these uncomfortable detox symptoms they associate to be related to hunger pains.
True hunger is believed to be felt in the mouth and throat, not in the head and stomach. According to a study conducted by Dr. Fuhrman, when individuals eat a nutritionally-dense diet, based on whole plants that are loaded with micronutrients and phytochemicals, toxic hunger symptoms greatly diminish, caloric intake is more easily controlled and managed, and they will often report hunger signals appearing more in the throat and mouth, rather in the belly and head (2).
Give it a try today, forgo the toxic hunger pains recognizing that it is merely your body detoxifying and is a very beneficial process, and wait till you feel true hunger to eat again. Remember it’s in the throat and mouth. I’m trying to do the same and would love to hear back from your experiences!