That's the question I got most often while on Phase 1 of the Ideal Protein Protocol. Aren't you hungry? My response would be "yes" but it wasn't so simple as all that.
Yes, I was hungry. We were eating approximately 800 calories per day. A salad no matter how big is a salad...and doesn't last that long. Ask anyone who came into my office during the summer 2013 whether I was hungry! My stomach would let up a loud growl as soon as anyone walked in.
But you know what? In asking that question, I think everyone missed the important point. It's this:
Were you hungry BEFORE starting the diet?
Wouldn't it make sense to ask that of someone who was significantly overweight? Wasn't it obvious that I was hungry before starting the diet? And wouldn't it be obvious that I was hungry in a way that was completely and totally unhealthy? I'd even say sick?
Before starting IP, I was hungry pretty much all the time. I just chose to feed that hunger with whatever foods I liked. I believe those foods (mostly sweet snacks) were creating a biochemical response in my body that made me more hungry...for more of the foods that were making me hungry. It created a vicious cycle that I could not break.
While I think that hypoglycemia is an important function of that vicious cycle, I believe that more is going on. I honestly believe that food allergies and/or sensitivities play a large role in how hungry we feel and in the quality of that hunger. Is the hunger you're feeling a "raving gotta eat anything as soon as possible" kind of hunger or is it the hunger that says "stomach is empty so eat when you get a chance." I think that food allergies and sensitivities drive the first kind of hunger where as being hungry is just a symptom of eating the "right" amount of food for your body, activity levels and desired weight management.
And, for me, it was liberating to know the latter kind of hunger. To know that no matter what I was going to "survive" until the next feeding. That food was something I used to control my energy levels and ability to get through the day, not something that controlled me by making me kind of crazy.
In transitioning through the phases to "maintenance" (though I still have weight to lose, I'm at a point in my life where hard-core dieting just isn't going to work), I have not felt that crazed hunger in a year, and I'm so happy about that. I believe the trigger for me is grass-based foods (wheat, oats, etc.) and as long as I make sure the label doesn't include "wheat" or "gluten" or "oats", etc., I'm actually doing very well. My digestion is good, I feel good and my overall hunger is in the normal range. I get hungry, but I don't get crazed. The triggers for David are different, but we know that he has lots of food allergies and the out of control hunger is one of the symptoms of his allergies.
All this to say that I still battle with hypoglycemia and have to remember to eat every two hours. I've had to put myself on a schedule (which I'm not totally crazy about...those of you who know me know that me and schedules are tricky)...but isn't that something...that I have to REMEMBER to eat every two hours.
I can't tell you how many times I'd tried to lose weight during my adult life. I did Weight Watchers several times, Atkins, and even tried the Dr. Phil approach. I'd be successful for a while and then I'd fall off for one reason or another. I was "starving to death" hungry on all of these programs, though less so on Atkins (which gives credence to my theory of grass-based foods which are so prominent on the WW and Dr. P approaches).
What I think Ideal Protein does right is this: Significantly lowers carbs, significantly lowers fats, forces healthy food choices by giving a limited option of food items, and provides quality, tasty protein products to replace meals until your body has reset and is ready for working in the real world again. Learning to live without certain groups of food can be difficult, but for me and my husband, it helped us to learn about the appropriate kind of hunger, start to dissect what kinds of food drive that hunger, and approach our maintenance with an attitude of "I want to feel like this every single day for the rest of my life, so I will choose to eat the foods that make me feel good."
And that is just awesome!