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Question: I have been reading the past posts in the Ask The Doctor forum and notice how often you stress that we should eat only when hungry. I don't think I know what hunger is. My whole life I have eaten according to how much sugar is in the food. If it had sugar I ate it. If not I would go without. (no wonder I got diabetes). So now I am beginning this diet and really liking it, I am eating on schedule, 8 oclock, 12.30 and 5.30. I figure my system needs some retraining before I will start to recognize true hunger. Do you have any input about this?

Answer: We live in a society of food excess, where people have trained to overeat since their childhood. It is so deeply ingrained that most people overeat routinely. That is pretty obvious; otherwise everybody would not be overweight.

A problem arises, worse for some people than others, who soon after changing over to a very healthy diet begin to experience increasing detoxification symptoms. Instead of recognizing these symptoms of headaches, stomach cramps, lightheadedness and weakness (which some call hypoglycemia) as a detoxification phenomena that easily resolves in a few weeks, many people just assume the diet is not right for them or they need to eat heavier foods, more animal products or they just need to eat more frequently.

Understanding that these symptoms lessen with time and eventually leave is important and helpful. It is especially critical that many people lose these addictive cravings and are put back in touch with more primitive sensations of hunger so they are not suffering with uncomfortable cravings, literally forcing them to overeat or eat incorrectly.

Being able to eat only when experiencing true hunger is also very helpful for those who are eating better but still not losing weight. It is still possible to overeat on healthy food, just much more difficult.

Because eating by the clock is so ingrained, many of you will routinely eat before true hunger is experienced. It is not so bad to eat before hunger appears. I don’t always eat when I am truly hungry either. Sometimes convenience, appetite and social eating come into play, but we should all recognize that the ideal amount of calories to meet our needs, without excess, is best dictated by true hunger, not by withdrawal symptoms from toxicosis or unhealthy eating and not from the social and fun aspects of eating. Read the hunger tutorial on the member site one more time and it this may help you put it into perspective.

This question and answer is a sample of what you will find in Dr. Fuhrman’s Member Center Ask the Doctor Forum. Access to this forum requires membership. All Members can search the entire archive of questions and answers. In addition, Platinum and higher members have access to ask Dr. Fuhrman and his Medical Associates their own questions.

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