I'm up at 4 a.m. and I just had a bowl of raisin bran with 1% lactose-free milk (organic).
I was hungry.
I am hungry. I have been hungry. By all estimations, I'm likely to continue to be hungry.
I ate pretty normally for me yesterday, in the sense of what I do when I'm not completely overwhelmed and I plan well. Plenty of fresh fruits (including freshly picked blackberries from my friend's farm-like property) and vegetables (including yummy small carrots from the farmer's market, tender, crisp, sweet and a little peppery, very unlike the ones that come in little finger-sized chunks in the plastic bag at the supermarket). Mr. Rounded made dinner -- chicken in a mild fresh tomato, yellow and green bean and potato curry with brown rice. Breakfast*, lunch, dinner, with snacks in between. So why was I hungry at 4 a.m.?
Maybe hunger isn't something I can prevent.
I ran across this at work yesterday while reading a Medscape (requires registration) article on "Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, Obesity and Reproductive Implications: Hyperandrogenism and Insulin Resistance" by Swedish physician and researcher Angelica Linden Hirschberg, MD, PhD, and nearly dropped my spoon:
Many women with PCOS suffer from a craving for sweets, a reduced feeling of satiety and a tendency toward binge-eating.
We have demonstrated that women with PCOS have reduced meal-related secretion of the gastrointestinal 'satiety peptide', cholecystokinin, compared with BMI-matched controls.
Furthermore, patients with PCOS display dys-regulation of ghrelin, a hormone secreted from the gastric mucosa
, which stimulates hunger and food intake.
Thus, there is evidence of disturbed appetite regulation in patients with PCOS, which, together with the characteristic endocrine/metabolic abnormalities, may explain why these women have to struggle to maintain normal bodyweight. Increased appetite in patients with PCOS may be part of an anabolic constitution that predisposes an individual to obesity and insulin resistance. It seems likely that this constitution, probably of genetic nature, provides evolutionary advantages in times of nutrition shortages. Furthermore, we have demonstrated that the constitution of women with PCOS may be an advantage for physical performance.
However, in times of unlimited food supplies it may, together with a sedentary lifestyle
, lead to the development of obesity and reproductive failure.
I really like the part where they've "demonstrated that the constitution of women with PCOS** may be an advantage for physical performance." Now, if only I could become a full-time endurance athlete in training... (this article also stated that exercise alone had a similar treatment effect as losing weight through dieting.)
But, it does really back up the feeling I've had most of my life that I'm really hungry. Hungrier than my life circumstances would lead me to expect to feel. Hungrier than other women of the same height and physical activity levels. Compounded with other things, I think this is about as close to an explanation for "why I am fat" as I'll ever get. Not an excuse, and not that I need to explain myself, but it does explain to me
why I experience the world as it relates to food and hunger the way I do.
So, armed with the compassionate (if still weight-loss focused) perspective of Angelica Linden Hirschberg, MD, PhD, what do I do with this knowledge?
I don't rightly know.
I know that if I eat as much as I'm hungry for in a casual way, without some planning, I gain weight. Gaining weight isn't bad, per se, but for me, it gets me into a place where my blood sugar is harder to manage, I don't sleep well, and since life is cruel this way, I feel hungrier and more tired. If I eat in a way that is geared toward allowing me to feel satisfied and stay about a half step ahead of my hunger, I can basically manage to stay where I am. Where I am is okay... but I do have a "grass is greener" maybe a little less weight would bring my blood sugars down a tad more to where I was having a beautiful little reading on my blood sugar meter each morning without having to add in any other medications to manage diabetes.
And, how is this not dieting?
Right now, I'm focused on experimenting. What can I do to be treating myself in a loving, caring way, with all of the demands of life swirling around me, to provide my body with what it needs in a proactive way?
In the meantime, I'm going to try to not be annoyed when I feel hungry. I'm instead going to remind myself that it's my "constitution." It's how I'm made. It's not all bad. It mostly just is.
* Dairy yogurt gives me a very bad tummy ache (even though it's supposed to be lactose free). But lately, I've been eating soy yogurt at breakfast. As a result, I feel so much more feminine
** I was told I had PCOS when I was 20 years old.