Want to know what my favorite thing about Whole30 is? It’s not that my skin clears up, my joints don’t hurt, I slim down quite a bit, or that I discovered that kale isn’t quite that bad. Nope. It’s remembering what it feels like to be hungry again.
For someone who loves—and talks about, and tweets, and posts pictures of—food as much as I do, this may be surprising to you, but since early 2013, I pretty much am never hungry. It’s a weird side effect of my depression. I know when I should eat, and I know when my body is craving food, but it doesn’t feel like normal hunger. It’s a head knowledge of what normalcy would be like more than anything.
You’d think it would be easier to lose weight and achieve health goals when you’re not hungry, but it’s also just plain more difficult to eat and that’s a pretty good way to keep weight on. Ask my mother, the dinner conversation always goes like this:
Mom: Are you hungry?
Me: I could eat. I’m not that hungry. But if you are, go ahead and cook.
Mom: Let me know when you’re hungry.
Me: I won’t be, so just cook when you’re ready.
Mom: Is six good?
Me: Works for me.
Mom: Okay. I should be ready to eat by then.
I’ll note, there was a brief respite from this feeling of lack of hunger. The three weeks I spent in Spain and Italy, I was ravenous and ate pretty much constantly. Wine has a similar effect after three glasses. I rarely have three glasses.
Enter Whole30. I did my first round in April of 2016 alongside Mom, and it was excruciating how hungry I was literally all of the time. We purged the house of temptations and persisted together. My body felt amazing, but I was almost in too much hunger pain to even realize it. This should and/or could probably say something about my diet going into said Whole30 and the cravings and withdrawals I was feeling, but nonetheless, it brought back a feeling of normalcy and humanity.
Hunger is a good reminder that you’re alive.
Fast forward to this Monday, I started Whole30 again. All by myself this time. There was no deep purge of the house of temptation. It’s all here. Staring at me. Mocking me as I grab another handful of celery sticks. I have to be stronger this time around. Thus far, it’s worked.
My depression has reached a new low the last few months. I try to counteract it where I can, but it’s been spiraling. Taking control in the gym kept failing, I lost writing to the depression, and the job search has been going somehow even worse than it had been. I needed to take control of something and try to feel better.
The first two days (I’m on day five), I continued to not feel hungry. Part of me was relieved that I would be having an easier time this time around. Part of me was a little sad that I wasn’t going to feel the normal reaction I was craving. But then the third day happened, and I have been close to starving ever since.
A side note: to all the people thinking that I’m not eating enough vegetables and protein and whatnot, trust me. I am eating everything I can and it doesn’t go away. Same with drinking water.
Another side note: swimming a mile or running three miles is often the closest I get to hunger outside of what I’ve mentioned here. My body demands a tad more attention and recovery after that.
In an odd way, the hunger is a reminder to keep fighting to feel again. I don’t feel much outside of frustration these days. I don’t let myself feel the anger I want to feel. I don’t like what that brings out in me. But I also don’t feel happiness or joy or drive or desire or anything else, really, either. Confusion and frustration. And that doesn’t really make you feel alive or human.
But hunger is immediate and demands attention. Reminds you that you do have to provide for your body. That there is something tangible you’re connected to that is very much alive. It’s a small reminder, but it helps.
I want to be excited about food. I want to be excited about life. But mostly it’s just a chore these days.