Hyperphagia - Extreme Hunger
'This is so filling’ a friend says as she eats her lunch. I look down at my already empty bowl and think there MUST be something wrong with me because not only did I wolf mine down, but I am pretty sure I could eat like three more of them. I tell myself it must be an emotional thing, or because I am just SO obsessed with food - bloody eating disorder.
Hyperphagia is extreme hunger, and is something that many, although not all, people experience when recovering from some kind of eating disorder. It can happen anytime within the recovery process and varies in the amount of time it lasts from person to person (aka what you are feeling is not wrong).
When there is no eating disorder present the complex signals that arrive from the digestive system and other areas of the body are in agreement. But those who are recovering often feel kind of ‘brain-empty’ no matter how much they eat - does that make sense?
Extreme hunger happens because your body is not only trying to help restore your weight to it’s optimal point, but it is also REPAIRING the damage that has occurred through restriction.
Much of the research on this idea comes from the Minnesota Starvation Experiment (something we have discussed before in this blog post HERE).
The way to overcome this is to respond - to eat until you feel full. THE ONLY WAY IS THROUGH. One of the most helpful analogy I have heard is that food restriction is like sleep. If you stayed up for 48 hours without sleep, you WOULD NOT WORRY if you overslept the next day, or if you still felt a little tired when you woke up the next day. The drive you feel to eat makes sense - it is all about energy restoration and repair.
And KNOW it does end. You will reach a point where your hormones and neurotransmitters provide the same message at the same time; you will no longer have a mix between hunger and fullness - instead your brain and body will work as one.