Something I had to learn about when I went from ~400 pounds to my current weight was hunger. I was never hungry when I was heaviest, because anytime I felt even the slightest pang I would eat. Now I have to understand my hunger and manage it. I don’t know if other maintainers of large weight loss have had a similar experience, but here’s what I’ve learned:
The first few years of maintaining my current weight I was hungry ALL THE TIME. I learned to understand the difference between stomach hunger, and real hunger. How I learned this was because real hunger causes something I call “bonking.” I bonk when my body is completely out of fuel. I become sluggish, irritable (very, very irritable), weak, cold, sometimes even shaky. That kind of hunger can’t be ignored or distracted. What I call “stomach hunger” is the regular signals my stomach sends to tell me I should eat. Stomach hunger can be evaluated to determine if it is serious and about to lead to bonking, or simply some of the screwy signals that are a legacy of my morbid obesity.
I don’t know if it’s normal to feel hungry most of the time, but I know that I do. And since most of my “normal weight” friends don’t report this sensation, either they feel it but properly recognized it early in their lives and categorize it as something else, or it’s a side effect of having been so obese and something that I’ll always have. My usual strategy is to manage my hunger throughout the day by eating regularly. I take the edge off on a regular basis with a small snack, usually fruit, sometimes yogurt or another protein-rich snack. I try to keep my snacks under 100 calories, but with a high volume. Fruits and veggies are perfect for this purpose, they usually ratchet back the hunger to something ignorable. Bonking can’t be fixed with a small snack, though, I usually require something a little more substantial if I’ve let myself get to that point, and that’s a dangerous place to be – bad decisions happen when I’m in that state – so I do my best to avoid bonking by managing the regular hunger throughout my day.
I know that this sensation of constant hunger has gotten slightly better, less present, over the years. It’s one of the changes to how I feel after losing all the weight that has been noticeable. When people say, “How is it different now that you’ve lost weight?” this is one of the things that is different. It took some time to adjust to the hunger, but now I manage it with regular snacks and exercise, because vigorous exercise also helps to control my hunger. I don’t know why, but it does.
Another data set learned through trial and error: Understanding the hunger signals and what they mean, and managing them accordingly.