In Part 1, of our Understand Your Hunger series, we learned the characteristics of physical hunger and emotional hunger, and how important it is to recognize the difference.
Now, we are going to discuss another obstacle to successful eating. This obstacle is much more straightforward, than emotional hunger, but it is just as misunderstood. This obstacle is thirst.
Most of us associate thirst, or our need to drink, with a dry mouth. Unfortunately, dry mouth is our body’s last ditch effort, to get us to grab something to drink. It is also the worst way for us to know it’s time to drink something. That’s because by the time we have a dry mouth, we are already dehydrated. In fact, research shows the majority of adults suffer from established chronic dehydration. Add to that, the list of maladies that dehydration is responsible for, and the importance of recognizing our need for water becomes overwhelming.
There is scarcely a bodily function that takes place, in the absence of water. There are none that take place, optimally, with insufficient water intake. Digestion… breathing… muscle movement… thought… you name it — every bodily function requires enough water to do its job, at its highest level.
With so much at stake, it’s easy to see how our body sends an almost never-ending stream of messages, to make sure it has enough water. The most widely-recognized is thirst. However, despite it’s acceptance as THE true indicator of our need for water, there are two distinct issues, at hand: one, thirst is our body’s last ditch effort to get us to drink water; and two, we often misinterpret thirst, as hunger.
Imagine that: not only do we pay attention to the worst indicator, of our body’s need for water; we misinterpret it, and try to satisfy it, by eating…!
If that’s not bad enough, by failing to satisfy thirst, by eating, we create a vicious cycle: our body needs water, and sends the final signal of thirst… we misinterpret thirst, thinking we’re hungry… we eat (usually junk foods with empty calories)… thirst remains, so our body keeps sending the signal for more water… we keep failing to satisfy that signal, because we keep misinterpreting thirst, as hunger… we keep eating quick-and-easy junk food. Next thing you know, we are dehydrated AND we have eaten way too much.
While emotional eating can wreak havoc on our health & fitness goals, misinterpreted thirst certainly makes things equally difficult. Think about the characteristics of physical hunger… or, just go read Part 1, again…. Physical hunger comes on slowly… and can be postponed. So, when we eat to satisfy misinterpreted thirst, it doesn’t work — that is, we’re still “hungry”. Without question, food cannot be the best default, to lead with.
Now, if the only indicator we pay attention to, for our need for water, is also, our body’s last ditch indicator… AND if we misinterpret that last ditch indicator, as hunger… perhaps, a better approach, to understand our hunger, is to offer water, to our body, regardless of thirst.
Research has shown a laundry list of benefits, of drinking enough water, not the least of which is improved weight management. Research has also determined an estimated daily water intake — it is calculated, by taking your body weight (in pounds), divided by 2. That number is how many ounces of water, each of us should drink, per day. The caveat is: that quantity represents a minimum number.
With that, we have addressed the second obstacle to understanding our hunger. It may not be hunger, at all. When in doubt — drink water. If it is actual physical hunger, which can be postponed, it will still be there. If it’s misinterpreted hunger, better known as thirst, then the “hunger” goes away AND we will have given our body exactly what it wanted, in the first place…! In fact, check out my You Tube video, on my 4 Cues for Drinking Water.
In Part 3, of our series, we will look at what it takes to soothe the savage beast, known as Hunger… with nutritient and caloric density.
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