The Difference Between “Tummy Hunger” and “Brain Hunger”

“But I don’t feel hungry!” was the response my 42 year-old male client from LA, gave me today. I had asked him if his bouts of brain fog and irritability yesterday were during longstretches without food, and he admitted againthat he only eats one or two meals a day. I had learned this from him a year ago during our intake but had never gotten much traction with him on it and food had gotten lost in the shuffle of life coaching and amino acid therapy. He attributed his symptoms yesterday to having recently stopped his SSRI, but admitted that these symptoms did indeed clear up when he ate! He further admitted that he was prowling around his apartment yesterday looking for something to satisfy his edginess and finally smoked weed to settle himself down. It turns out that he uses weed a lot, in place of eating. So, I explained again the difference between “tummy hunger” and “brain hunger”, and this time it clicked! I told him that we can train ourselves out of noticing “tummy hunger” but a starving brain will get us every time. We can’t train ourselves out of that. And between his medication-resistant depression, his social anxiety, his ADHD symptoms, his frequent irritability which can spark into violence, and his ever-present THC, his starving brain was certainly present.


He then shared that he actually has resistance to eating! He hates shopping.  He despises the time it takes to prepare food and clean up the mess. Most of the time he will buy fast food. But, the hard-boiled eggs sitting in the fridge have been there for 2 weeks! So, being concerned that he might actually have an eating disorder, I dug deeper. He revealed that he had been on the wrestling team in high school where he was taught to be very weight conscious, to the point of using rubber suits to sweat off extra ounces. After high school, he gained tremendous weight, and then more recently lost it by barely eating. He’d been molested as a child. He was a sitting duck for an eating disorder to develop, but probably because he was making so much progress in so many areas, I had missed it. 

His assignment for the week is to actually eat 3 meals a day, even if they are light, and to take 1000 mg glutamine between meals. His goal is 80 grams of protein. He is to pay attention to how the food and the glutamine make him feel, and if he functions any better on them. I discussed the helpfulness of digestive enzymes if he has difficulty digesting that much. I will be curious to see if he actually manages to keep eating the extra food and makes the 80 grams of protein goal every day, or if he comes up with excuses. 

I’m excited that he and I finally got here, and I’m looking forward to finding and giving him the right support and resources for him to continue his healing and transformational journey. 

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