Mental Health 101…Hunger

When i was in a rehab program  (more about that another time) they taught us the acronym HALT to help us to take stock of what was truly happening in the moment.  It stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, Tired and identifies needs which- if not met- can cause us to become susceptible to self-destructive behaviours and put us on the road to relapse.  So, as a reminder to myself of things i have learned and need to refresh in my mind, i thought i’d share it with you.

Hunger is a tricky subject for me.  i live in a wealthy country.  Best damn country on the planet, i say.  And our poorest are rolling in cash compared to most of the world.  i do not say this to minimize your struggle to feed your family.   It’s a fact.  All i know is i never remember being hungry as a child.  We did not have a lot, but we always had enough to eat.

But i have known hunger.  A story too long for here saw me stuck in San Jose, California at the age of 20 .  i know…the story kind of writes itself there, doesn’t it?   Young man, California, and i’ll throw in a tragic love story…happy?  Let your mind fill in the details.   managed to get home to Calgary, too proud to ask any of my family for help, of course, so i was broke.

Flat broke.  As in living in abandoned houses with other young people in the same condition.  As in living in filth, with no running water or working toilets.  As in eating out of dumpsters to survive.

Yes, we had great social programs.  Yes, i could have gone to a men’s shelter.  And yes, i was even more stubborn than i am now.  And i was raised to stand on my own two feet.  Asking for help, especially from my dad, was “discouraged”.  By the way, that is a ridiculous way to live.  Ask for help from others…accept graciously the gift of kindness and do not despise it.

Ok.  So i have been at least a little hungry.  Now i have gardens, i put up stuff in the pantry, the fridge is full. etc.  So why would i be hungry?  Because sometimes i forget to eat.  If i am depressed, i don’t eat.  If i am manic, i don’t eat.  i have gone days without eating in the midst of a serious manic episode.  And, children, that is not a good thing.

i’m sure you’ve seen the Snickers commercial where people are acting crazy until they eat that magic piece of chocolate candy.  There is an element of truth to that.  We are creatures who run on glucose.  It is our fuel.  Does your car run without fuel?  Well, neither do we.  And it is cheap fuel.  We are surrounded by glucose, fructose, maltose and a lot of other sugar names.

But we eat stupid.  Well.  I don’t, but chances are you do.  Processed food that have little natural goodness to them.  Different ways to label fat, sugar and corn so it sells.  And then they have the nerve to add vitamins to it and call it “good for you.”  We all know better.  We have our excuses, but we know.

If i do not eat regular meals, interspersed with snacks during the day, my sugars roam all over the place and i get cranky, moody, less patient, etc.  Why?  My body is trying to get my attention.  My body is saying, “Hey, guy…we are running out of fuel here.  Little help?

Here is some stuff from a magazine i don’t follow, but this is good background.  Titled “8 Things That Happen When You Skip A Meal”

And one more.  “Eating at irregular times can lead to high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity”.

If you are hungry, eat something.  Something with real nutrition but, barring that, eat something.  A piece of fruit.  i buy the large fruit things of cut up fruit for convenience.  That is another way of saying i am lazy.  I will not cut open a cantaloupe to save my life.  And i have sandwich meat, cheese, olives and other things that are quick and easy for when i begin to feel hungry.  You are missing the point if you wait until you are so hungry you feel like shit.

Want to improve your mental health?  Keep an eye out for the hunger monster.  Feed yourself sensible and lovingly because, my friend, you deserve it.  Be kind to yourself.


2 thoughts on “Mental Health 101…Hunger

    1. i’m not even going to come close to that kind of wisdom…i know a lot of our society is in tough straits and these are real, daily struggles for others…and often the mentally ill drop squarely into that realm of choice… no easy answers, sorry…perhaps you have a suggestion


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