#277 Snacks, Hunger Cues, and Urges After Breast Cancer

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In today's Tuesday Terrain Talk episode, we delve deep into the world of lifestyle habits, especially concerning our relationship with food.  

Here are the highlights: 

  1. The Allure of Modern Marketing: We'll explore how easily we're swayed by aggressive marketing campaigns that promise us the moon and stars. These campaigns often have us chasing after the next "magic pill" – whether that's a supplement, beauty product, or a lifestyle trend. But the reality is that these additional products might be a waste without mastering the basics of sleep, nutrition, exercise, and stress management. 
  2. The Snacking Phenomenon: I shared personal anecdotes about the habits we've unknowingly adopted over the years. How many of us are guilty of reaching for snacks during a short car trip or filling our desks with treat bowls? Do we eat out of genuine hunger, or is it merely boredom or habit? It's essential to differentiate between the two and to identify when we're eating just because and when we're eating because our body truly needs nourishment. 
  3. Understanding Hunger: This point was a profound one. How do we react when we feel the first pangs of hunger? Do we immediately reach for food? Understanding our hunger cues and how our body responds to dropping blood sugar levels can be pivotal in making healthier choices.  

In a nutshell, we need to step back and evaluate our relationship with food, understand our body's cues, and make conscious decisions that benefit our health in the long run. This episode could be the catalyst for the positive changes you're aiming for in your health journey. 🌸💪🏽 

Referred to in this episode: 

Better Than Before Breast Cancer Life Coaching Membership 



Read the full transcript below:

Laura Lummer  00:00

You're listening to the breast cancer recovery coach podcast. I'm your host, Laura Lummer. I'm a Certified Life health and nutrition coach, and I'm also a breast cancer thriver. If you're trying to figure out how to move past the trauma and the emotional toll of breast cancer, you've come to the right place. In this podcast, I will give you the tools and the insights to create a life that's even better than before breast cancer. Well, let's get started. Hey, friends, welcome to episode 277 have better than before breast cancer with the breast cancer recovery coach. That's me, Laura Lummer, your host. And thank you so much for joining me here on today's Tuesday terrain talk. So something I love about doing these new episodes these Tuesday terrain talks is that I get to help you focus on some of the simplest, most doable things you can do to support your optimal metabolic health. You know, we live in this world of brilliant marketers, and especially when we're you know, scrolling through social media and seeing ads that have promises of thicker beautiful hair and gorgeous skin and reversing age by decades and supplements that you can't live without and biohacking and all of this stuff. It's so easy to get caught up in what else do I need? What else do I have to buy? What else what other supplement is going to help me what other magical remedy is there going to be that's going to resolve my aches and pains and all of the things and there's nothing, right? There's no one thing that's going to fix all things. But more importantly, until we get the fundamentals of our day to day living in lifestyle, in check in less we're getting our sleep and circadian rhythms and check our nutrition, our exercise, managing our stress, really making sure we're doing everything we can to optimize the way we live day to day, adding in more stuff without knowing and having data to support why you're adding it in is just throwing your money out the window. In my opinion, this is my opinion, this is not medical advice. But when we can really stop and look at the long conditioned habits that we have, that we may not even be aware are impacting and affecting us that when we can really be honest with ourselves and take a look at that we can make some really big changes in our lives without having to hire people and buy more supplements and get special nutrition programs. Now if you have a reason for that, that's a whole different story. But this is just day to day that we sometimes tend to overlook the simple things we can do. Because their habits because it requires a lot of thought work to move past them and change our lifestyle. And today I want to talk about one of those lifestyle habits that I think almost all of us fall prey to. And that is snacking and hunger. Right? So these these go together, we're going to talk today about why we snack and how you know you're hungry. And how hungry do you have to be before you eat? And what's happening if you're eating and you're not hungry? And how does that affect your overall health. So let me share a couple of personal stories with you that brought this topic to mind. I can distinctly remember last year, I was on a road trip with two of my sisters and my brother in law. And we were going from my sister's house my nephew's home over to from one side of Colorado over to the other side of Colorado to visit my sons. And as we're packing up our stuff, we'd stayed with my nephew for a couple of days, and we're packing up are supposed to head across the state. And my sister is all about the snacks, right? And she's packing snacks. And our plan is it's about a four hour drive. So our plan is we're going to take off, it's late in the morning, and we're going to stop somewhere for lunch maybe halfway and then head over. So basically we're gonna be going for maybe two hours, two and a half tops without food. pretty doable, right? But we're really focused on snacks. And I say to my sister, listen, nobody in this car is going to starve to death in two and a half hours. Nobody in this car needs to be eating food between the time we leave this house and the time we stop for lunch, we're going to be fine. We're going to be sitting on our butts driving a car not burning any calories except what it takes for us to stay awake and to sit and to breathe, right? We're not moving our bodies. We're completely sedentary. We don't need to be eating in the car while we're talking while we're driving on the way to get food. So let's think about what we're doing here. And I think this is important because cuz I definitely used to be the snack queen. I mean, if we're going to be taking a road trip or getting in a car, there's going to be nuts. And there's going to be snacks and maybe granola, whatever, whatever. But to make sure like, Okay, we got snacks, we got the drinks, let's get in the car, as if we're going to the drive in movies, you know, every time you get in the car, it's not a drive in movie. So then just the other day, I was with my family again. And we were going to lunch. And one of my sisters says she's getting pretty hungry. And she's like, let's go now before I get hangry. And my other sister says, well, there's this place on the way, let's stop there and get you a snack if you want. And I said, Okay, come on, you guys, we're not going to stop, we've got a 30 minute drive to the restaurant, we're not going to stop to get a snack to get food on the way to get food. Let's stop here and think for a sec, we're all going to survive a 30 minute car drive. So we're not going to stop for snacks. Okay, now, I could talk to my sisters like that, right? Because, you know, they're my sisters. But it's just like, let's think about how many times we do this, how we turn to snacking, just because most of the time out of boredom. I can recall when I worked in a corporate environment, there's rarely a desk, you could walk by that didn't have a snack bowl. And then the departments are broken into different parts of the building. So outside of the entrance to a hallway for accounting, or to the C suites, or to the membership suites, there would be a stand with a bowl with candy everywhere you go candy. And in fact, and I'm totally guilty of this, when I used to have a big event at my house, if there were leftover desserts, or people brought desserts, or there was leftover food, I would pack it all up and take it to work and set it out in the snack room in the break room, put it out on the table, and it'll be gone in a heartbeat. And that's what everybody did, right? We come back from the holidays, and everybody brings their cakes, their cookies, all the stuff that you don't want in your house because you're thinking, I don't want to eat this stuff. So they would take it to work where everybody would eat.


Laura Lummer  07:10

So let's really think about why we do this. All right, let's think about how this affects our metabolism. So a couple of big complaints that I hear from clients all the time, and that I've shared with you on the show that I struggled with is menopausal weight gain. And do you know how much of that could be attributed to either snacking, or eating just when you're not hungry? Do you know your hunger cues. And let's talk about a hunger cue being the sensation of hunger whatever that means to you, however that feels to you. If you wait to your tummies growling if there's a feeling of constriction, whatever hunger feels like to you, how intense does that sensation of hunger have to be before you eat? Now, in Ayurveda in different wellness practices, it's suggested that if we're looking at a scale from one to 10, that you don't eat until your hunger is at about a seven. And then you eat slowly, until you feel that your hunger is maybe about a two or three. And then you stop, because you've got to give your body time to get all that food into you and start metabolizing that food and to quell that sensation of hunger. So not starting to eat till seven, and then stopping eating at a two or even a three, right? Whereas we have a tendency to notice, oh, I'm hungry, I feel hungry. And it's an immediate conditioning get food now. Right? Regardless of how many how much energy we have already stored on our body, meaning excess body fat. So we've got excess body fat, we've got snacks we can dine in. Then when we do start to eat, how often do you eat to the point of fullness feeling really full? And then sitting back go, Oh, I'm so full. Or even if you don't feel hungry, but maybe you didn't really love what you just ate? Or maybe you ate it driving the car walking around, eating mindlessly. That you notice, well, I ate and I'm not really hungry. But I just don't feel satisfied. I want something. Right. There's that phrase of really I just I just want something I know I've said it a million times in my life. And then what do you do? Do you go straight to eat? Or do we stop and notice? Am I actually hungry? Like why do you eat food? Well, the primary reason we eat food is to fuel our body to give our body the nutrients it needs to support its optimal health right? And we can use food to attain our fitness goals. Our performance goals. Our health goals are lots of ways that food serves us. We also eat food because it's delicious, or because there's a party or there's a gathering. So we have these different reasons for eating food. But the primary reason for food and why we eat food is to sustain our body to nourish our body, right? And when we're eating, when we're not hungry, we're over nourishing our body and our bodies like, Okay, I've had enough to eat now. So let me store this and sock it away for later. And we start accumulating body fat, a lot more complexities go into that. But that's one piece of the puzzle. So I think about snacking, and I remember as a kid, there were no snacks in my house, we didn't have bags of chips, we didn't have cookies. We didn't have snacks. And when we did on the rare occasion that my mom would bring home a box of hostess ding dongs or something like that. Oh my god, there were six of us kids. So you better look out because there's going to be a bloodthirsty fight for the ding dongs, right, who gets to get the ding dongs? So when did we adopt this snacking idea? This idea that no matter what store you go to, you gotta go through aisles of snacks to grab on the way to the checkout, right candy bars and pockets of gummies. And whatever else that they pack all along any checkout calendar, I was at a fabric store not long ago. And as I'm going up to buy the stuff that we were going to make something with me? Why am I at a fabric store walking through an aisle of cookies, candies and chips? I mean, we're just constantly bombarded with this message of Eat more, eat more snack more? And are we paying attention to whether or not we need to eat? Are you hungry? So hunger cues, this became a really big awareness for me, when years ago, I first started practicing intermittent fasting, because I would notice I'd be at work. And I would notice, oh, I'm hungry. But I had a time, right, I was on a certain amount of fast, whether it was 1416 1820 hours, whatever I was doing. And I would notice, oh, I'm hungry. But I still have some time in my fasting window. So I'm not going to eat yet. And I started to think about that as I would go through this practice. And at the time. So since that time, I've lost 75 pounds over the last two and a half years. So at this time, we know when I was first practicing intermittent fasting, I had extra body fat to lose. So I had extra energy stored on my body, I was not in danger, of starving to death at any point during a fasting period for intermittent fasting. But I would notice my brain realizing I just got a hunger sensation, a growl, or the tightness in my stomach, or just the feeling the sensation of being hungry and my brain, like you got to drop everything now and go eat. And it starts to become really aware of that and think, wow, look at how much of my life I have spent with this idea that as soon as I feel hungry, I have to eat, I've got extra energy stored on my body, I have no danger of starving, I have whatever might have been dinner coming up. And in my office where I worked, I had a cabinet because I would make my lunch and either pack my lunch and take it to work or just make a fresh lunch there. So I had a refrigerator. And I had a cabinet that had you know, cans of tuna or whatever, whatever was in it. And so I had easy access to prepare something for myself if I was hungry. And it started really making me think about that. That how the moment we feel discomfort, whether it's a physical discomfort, or an emotional discomfort, as I talked about all the time, when we're doing thought work and not expressing or experiencing or allowing our emotions, the same kind of thing happens physically. And this is why we have such a resistance to feeling the sensation of hunger, resistance to exercise, because let's face it, when we're exercising, it's not comfortable while you're in it while you're doing it right. You're stressing your body, you're pushing your body. And we just want to avoid discomfort at any cost. So we get a hunger cue. And we notice, oh, I just got a hunger cue I need to eat I need to stop it. Because it's a little bit uncomfortable. And I don't do uncomfortable. So let's fix this and make me feel comfortable. But in the doing of that, are we paying attention and thinking? Wait, I feel a hunger sensation on a scale of one to 10 How hungry am I? When is the next time I'm going to eat? And maybe you've got a plan for lunch or dinner or breakfast, whatever it is. And I know I've caught myself doing this before thinking okay, it's three o'clock and I'm really hungry. But I have plans to meet my husband for dinner at five. So am I going to eat at three just so I don't feel the sensation of hunger until five and by the way, this sensation of hunger comes and goes right it doesn't stay with you. You'll feel hungry. It'll be there for a few minutes and it goes away and then we'll come back a little reminder Hey, I'm still hungry. And this is actually a We start to teach our body to stop being so dependent on glucose and to become more metabolically flexible, that we've got stored energy. And if our body needs to access it, here you go, you're feeling hungry, access this energy I've stored on my body, get some of it out, right, use it up. But instead, we turn right to putting more food in our body, so that we don't feel the discomfort of a hunger pain. So it's something to consider. How do you respond to hunger? Do you respond immediately? Do you panic a little bit? I know people who definitely ice panic, I got hungry. I got to eat no, no, find me food now. And as I shared a minute ago, with one of my sisters, she said, I'm hungry. Let's see before I get hangry. So let's talk for a second about hangry. So what is what happens when we get hungry? Well, this is what's supposed to happen when we get hungry, levels of blood sugar are dropping, and our body sends out this signal and says, Hey, blood sugar is getting lower, I need blood sugar because I work off blood sugar or ketones. But we're used to working off blood sugar. And so your body starts to initiate this cascade of hormones that trigger different reactions in your body that say, Hey, release more glucose into the body get that stored glycogen out of the liver. And if you're moving and your muscles need to use it, it's stored in your muscles, your muscles are going to use that up for energy. So our body starts to send us signals, and we get this hormone cascade. But here's the thing we have become so dysregulated in the way we eat, especially because of this idea of snacking, that we need to snack all the time. And I can distinctly remember when the idea became the way to lose weight was to eat four to six small meals throughout the day, and keep your blood sugar even all day long. So what that basically told the average American is eat every couple of hours continue to spike your glucose continue to trigger an insulin release all day long. Even though most of us were sitting on our butts in an office or leading a mostly sedentary life. Whereas these athletes or people who were bodybuilder lifting weights are really fit or working out like crazy in the gym. So they were expending a lot more energy, their muscles were using a lot more energy. And so in the fitness world, they're like, Oh, we don't, the last thing you want to do is burn muscle. So they would eat a lot more frequently so that their body would never turn to consuming muscle for energy. And then this just became well, hey, look at them. They're so fit, I should eat four to six times a day. But you weren't moving. Right, we weren't moving the same amount. We weren't expending the intense physical energy, that the people who were the big proponents of this diet and this way of eating were. So then I started seeing this at school, right, like, I'd see kids get picked up from school. And the first thing their parents would do is hand him a snack. And I'd watch this, I'd see kids get in the car and their parents turn around and hand them something in a bag and a can of soda, you know, like you got to eat as if we were at danger of starving at any point in the average person's average day. And this is not talking about people with medical issues, or anything like that. And then for us, for our population, breast cancer survivors, medications can affect hunger too. And they can affect the hormones in your body, as we're well aware of. And then that can cause different centers in our brain to be triggered that may make you feel sad or angry or irritable or things like that. But the bottom line is, is it low blood sugar that's causing it. So again, when I started doing intermittent fasting, there will be times when I thought, well, I feel hungry, and I feel just like kind of weird, like, kind of spinny maybe a little dizzy, and I would think my blood sugar must be really low. And I would check it. So I'm a checker, I've got a Keto Mojo, I do prick my finger all the time and check my blood sugar and my ketones. And I've done it for a long time. So I would check and so often when I first started this, I think, Whoa, I just checked my blood sugar's like in the high 90s. Maybe even in the low hundreds. I've got plenty of glucose going on in my body right now. Why am I feeling this fatigue? And for me what happened? What I realized, and thank God for the input from my metabolic nutritionist and my metabolic doctor was an electrolyte imbalance and then I really needed more sodium. And so then I started to notice that when I feel this fatigue, kind of, it's not quite dizzy, but just like this kind of a weakness that I attributed to low blood sugar from hunger, I would check to see is that true? Is it correct? Do I have low blood sugar? And so often it would be no and so I would put a half a teaspoon to a teaspoon of salt and a glass of water and drink in a wait a few minutes and I'd feel so much better. So it was really dehydration I'm more than it was hunger because it was not a blood sugar issue. So the last thing I needed was a snack, right? If my blood sugar is 98, or 103, or 112, I don't need to eat right now. Okay. And again, average person, I'm not talking about people who are managing things like diabetes, or any other condition, or anything that's driven by some kind of medication, just overall average, this is how we eat and this is the process. So I think bringing an awareness to our thoughts about snacking. And people love their snacks, I get it, I love Trader Joe's sells white truffle potato chips. And I will not have them in the house because they're so delicious. I know that it would be it takes so much energy to manage my mind about not eating those, or God forbid, I open the bag, I want the whole bag. I know this about myself. So I never buy them. I don't have them in the house. And it's interesting because many people come to my house wanting to have anything to snack on. And we have a little cupboard that my husband keeps his favorite snacks in that they're like nuts and parmesan crisps and things like that. And t and I don't necessarily like the same kind of snack foods, which works well for me. So what I discovered for myself over the course of time and investigating and eating mindfully and deciding how I want to support my metabolism was no snacks in the house, because it's not necessary. If I'm hungry, then am I hungry enough for a meal. And if I'm not hungry enough for a meal, why would I need to eat was the process I went through? I'm not saying this process will work for everyone. I'm just offering it to you as some things to think about. As you consider how you use food to nourish your body. Are you using it to nourish your body to support your body's needs? Or are you using it for something to relieve boredom? For something to sue the motions as a buffer for feeling in a way that you don't want to feel? How are you using it? Do you need it? When you're putting it in your body? Do you notice whether or not your body is giving you a hunger cue? And how intense of a hunger cue is that? And then when you have that hunger cue? How much do you eat, so that you're satisfied, but not stuffed? So that we learn how to really feed our body in a really healthy, appropriate way. And a big part of that is considering do I snack? Do I eat mindlessly? Like if you're a job like I described the building that I worked in, where you can pass by any bowl and pick up an m&m Or what are those little delicious some wrapped in gold I think they're like Rolos little car, Mel's right any individual in peanut butter cup, and you just walk by it and without even thinking just kind of pick one up because it's there and you just pop it in your mouth. So thinking about snacking, and how often and how mindfully you put food in you is a big deal. Thinking about the level of discomfort, thinking about how you respond to hunger, and why you eat when you eat. Because here's the thing, we've got a bunch of hormones controlling everything about our metabolism. But we know that we've got these hunger hormones that we call ghrelin and leptin, right. And so when we are eating all the time, we really dis regulate the flow of the hormones in our body. So sometimes, when we're looking at the best way to get your metabolism back into shape, and to support your optimal metabolic health, there may be periods of discomfort you have to go through to regulate the way your hormones work. Again, if your eating patterns have been very dysregulated, those can also be thrown off by poor sleep. A night of poor sleep can just wreak havoc on your blood sugar, and on your hunger cues and responses. So let's go back and summarize what's going on with the snacking. And are you eating mindfully or mindlessly? No judgment here. This This podcast is not about judgment. It's about noticing and awareness. And I'm not even saying change anything. I'm just saying start today to notice and be interested and say to yourself, well, that is interesting. You know what? I didn't realize I grabbed that beat Reese's Peanut Butter club every time I walk past that person's desk, right or some homes I've been to people have bowls of candy out for their guests because they want to make a loving gesture. You come here I want you to have chocolate. So do you do things like that? pick things up without really thinking about it in between meals? Do you sit down for a meal and eat that meal until you're satisfied but not full? Do you respond with urgency to a hunger cue? Or do you let yourself get to a certain level of hunger because Another thing that plays a part in that is just urges. Sometimes we just have an urge, we have a desire. And it isn't related at all to hunger. But it's related to a lake. For instance, if I'm watching Top Chef, which I love that show, and I've said to my husband, you know what we need to time when we watch Top Chef, because it's painful to have eaten already my last meal of the day, and then watch that show, because the food looks so fabulous that my mouth starts watering, and my brain starts convincing me I'm hungry again. But I know I'm not hungry. Again, I've had more than enough. So things like that actually impact when we're eating also. So are we watching the Food Channel? And does the Food Channel make us want to snack more? So just really increasing your awareness of am I experiencing an urge? A just a desire, a little bit of discomfort? Or am I actually hungry? And do I need this food that I'm putting into me now. So I just want to offer those thoughts out to you. Because when you start to focus on them, it can really be an amazing journey, things won't change overnight, I wouldn't even expect that. But as you begin to be more aware of these practices, and this kind of a scale of hunger. And when you have hunger cues, and how your body feels and responds to hunger, it can really start to change your relationship with food. And if you are experiencing weight gain or difficulty maintaining a healthy weight, if you're experiencing inflammation, fatigue, brain fog, you might be surprised when you start this practice of asking yourself these questions and noticing these cues, you might be surprised to see that if you begin to change those eating habits, those symptoms might also reduce. I definitely found that and I often look back now. And I think about how long I had brain fog that I attributed to chemo brain. And that once I started intermittent fasting was one of the first things that I noticed was how much clearer my brain felt how much less brain fog that I had. And then over the course of years of doing this practice, just something that is that I've realized is that when I eat more than what is my regular habit of eating, I feel that fatigue and that brain fog come back. So it's interesting how your body responds to food. And some things that we may think are not even related to food, but related to something else may be made to feel better, or that symptom reduced somewhat, if we adjust our eating patterns by really listening to the cues that our body is sending. All right, friends, I hope that helps gives you some nuggets to think about some things to practice awareness of that don't cost a single penny, and can have such a huge benefit on your metabolism. Because let's face it, most of the time, the things that we snack on have sugar, preservatives, food colorings, additives, or even inflammatory fats in them. So if we can start being more mindful about snacking, and paying attention to hunger cues and hunger patterns, we may see a big change in the way your body feels. I would love to hear your thoughts on that. You know, you can find me on Facebook and Instagram as a breast cancer recovery coach. You can also come and join my life coaching membership and in that membership, you will have access to my course the 90 days of wellness, you will also have access to the four pillars of breast cancer recovery, which in the Renew module for recovery. We dig deep into nutrition and mindfulness and mindful eating and of course in the membership, I'm there on a weekly basis, coaching, supporting and helping you through the work that we do to create the life in the body and the health that you want to have. You can find all the details of that on my website, the breast cancer recovery coach.com forward slash life coaching. Alright friends, I will talk to you again soon. Until then be good to yourself. Take care


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