I Could Eat A Horse

by Sage Reddy

Best Time To Eat Dinner image

Hey, I am HUNGRY!

This post is excerpted from Oh, Shut Up And Eat: the 4 healthy eating habits of lean ‘n happy people. It’s part 1 of a series on hunger vs appetite.

“I’m on a seafood diet. When I see food, I eat it.” ~ Anonymous

At a talk I gave on food, one of the participants, whom I’ll call Raymond—a handsome devil, clad in plaid, with a beautiful girlfriend in tow—posed a question: “How can I tell when I’m hungry?” A simple question that deserves a simple answer, right?

Except that I didn’t have one.

The stranger had me completely stumped, leaving me too stunned to respond. I’d have fared a lot better had he quizzed me on the workings of Credit Default Swaps or even String Theory. Raymond had tossed a monkey wrench into the neat gears of my mind without as much as a warning. The gears jammed instantly and I went blank for an embarrassingly long minute. My thoughts?

“Dude! Are you kidding me? That’s like someone asking, ‘How do I know when I’m drunk?’ You’re either being a wise guy or you’re trying to be funny. No sir, I’m not falling for that. Then again, I have this BS detector inside me which is not going off right now. You look too darned earnest to be pulling my leg. Hmm…. But, but, how can you not know what hunger feels like? Everyone does. Well, don’t they?”

Apparently not.

Raymond was not kidding. He was as earnest as they come. Sincerity was writ all over his red face and intense blue eyes. This was my first ever workshop on food, and I assumed, rather naively, that everyone was familiar with the belly-monster we know as hunger. What we do when hunger strikes is a whole ‘nother matter—but everyone, absolutely everyone, knows what hunger feels like. Or so I believed.


That afternoon, as I searched for words to answer Raymond, I was also busy amusing myself with these thoughts: “Welcome to planet Earth. Here you can take birth in a poor nation where you’ll get to experience hunger without food, or you can go with a rich nation where you’ll get to have food without hunger. Which is better? Hell if I know. You’ll have to find out for yourself. Enjoy your stay. Cheers!”

The Wisefool, who’d never be caught dead without an opinion, has this to say: “The only thing worse than hunger without food is the chronic lack of hunger.”

When you don’t know the answer to someone’s question, hide your ignorance and pose them a question in return: “Have you never experienced hunger?” “No,” he replied. “So when do you eat?” I persisted.

“I eat when it’s time to eat. Lunchtime, dinnertime, you know. This was true when I was little and it’s true now. When I was a kid, my mother basically told us when to eat. She called us down for dinner every night. I have never associated hunger with eating. I don’t even know what hunger feels like.”

Raymond, like most people in the West, confuses appetite with hunger. The first is a desire for food, even if the body has no need for it. The second is the body’s physical cue for food, a need that must be fulfilled… or else.

As I pondered on Raymond’s words, he continued: “Wait, I have a better answer for you. When do I eat? I eat when there’s food. I eat when it’s time to eat. I eat when I’m bored. But mainly, I eat because I can.”

That last statement, “I eat because I can,” said it all. If America had a voice about food it was speaking through Raymond. We Americans, like Raymond, eat—because we can.

“You got a problem with that?” you ask, your fingers curling into a fist.

I don’t. But then, I don’t speak for your body.

This post was excerpted from Oh, Shut Up And Eat: the 4 healthy eating habits of lean ‘n happy people. It’s part 1 of a series on hunger vs appetite.

Image Source: vi.sualize.us

This post was written by...

has written 23 posts on Ask Sage.

Writer, philosopher, Life Coach, author, wisefool, blogger, foodie, musician, tinkerer and husband to a beautiful wife. Founder of Aikya Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to human happiness.

{ 62 comments… read them below or add one }

Bhatti July 27, 2015 at 7:40 am

If we regularly eat food on fix time it makes some good result. I try it and found very much useful.


Christa B. Mcintyre May 23, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Very good article Sage, and thanks for the reminder:-) Unfortunately, my dear Grandma told me otherwise. She wanted me to eat because she made very yummy food, whether I was hungry or not.
Christa B. Mcintyre invites you to read..No last blog posts to return.My Profile


Keri February 27, 2012 at 8:28 am


Great imagery, thoughtful questions, genuine approach.

Thank you for sharing! :)

Keri invites you to read..Facebook 102: How To Use Facebook Pages As Your Brand NameMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 28, 2012 at 11:00 am

Thank you, Keri. Good to hear from you!


Barbara February 25, 2012 at 10:15 am

Hey, Srini, what an interesting post, thank you! On second thought it is a rather sad story: this person must be in a permanent state of oversaturation not to know what hunger feels like.

I come from a family who always appreciated their food in a respectful and grateful way. I always took this attitude towards food for granted, now you show me differently!
Barbara invites you to read..Time to Say GoodbyeMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 28, 2012 at 9:47 am

Good to see you here, Barbara! I too was shocked, as is obvious in my post. But it’s really a matter of one’s conditioning, which is a product of culture, nature and nurture. You’re fortunate to have had the family environment you did, which cultivated gratitude and respect for food. :)


Leanne Hoagland-Smith February 24, 2012 at 11:52 am

Human beings have evolutionary triggers that are still very active. Our bodies have not caught up with our brains or our lifestyles of the 21st century.

Also, many of us are conditioned not to leave food on our plates because it is a “sin to waste food” (leftover cultural norm from the US depression to a religious norm of waste not, want not) to “there are children starving in (fill in the blank)” (possibly from the earlier years of UNICEF with the banks and pennies or again some other cultural norm). We then unlearn to listen for that moment when our stomachs are full. In many cultures, food is an integral part of being welcoming, of showing wealth and showing love.

For myself and my husband, we have dramatically cut back on our food consumption partly because of our age and we are no longer as active as we once were. Good post and spurs some reflective thinking,

Leanne Hoagland-Smith
Leanne Hoagland-Smith invites you to read..Shock and Awe of Business to Business Networking CostsMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 28, 2012 at 9:39 am

Thank you, Leanne! I agree, listening to one’s body is the simplest way to break out of all external conditioning. With age comes maturity, doesn’t it? And one begins to pay attention to the more important stuff of life.


Kareem Maghrabi February 22, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Great advice Sage, I need to change my habits of eating during the day. Smaller portions every few hours and eating better will give you more energy and better health.

Thank You
Kareem Maghrabi invites you to read..Wise Advice For Using Facebook For MarketingMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 24, 2012 at 10:08 am

Well said, Kareem. It’s good to always stay a little hungry. :)


Lilach Bullock February 22, 2012 at 12:36 pm

Sage I love reading your blog posts:) I guess I have a routine of when I eat mainly because I have a young daughter and try to get her into good eating habits (even though mine are shocking lol).

I often hear that the later you eat the worse it is – is that true?
Lilach Bullock invites you to read..12 Successful Facebook Advertising TipsMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 24, 2012 at 10:07 am

Thanks Lilach! Raising a kid is one way to improve one’s own relationship with food. That’s because kids learn best through example. Eating late at night slows down your metabolism. So the same calories go much further and result in you-know-what. :)


Terry Petrovick February 19, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Great question. I think it depends on one’s lifestyle. When I was in the corporate world. I ate when I could. So busy I had a schedule for it. Today, I eat about 6 times a day (normally). I eat smaller portions and when my body tells me to.

But, no everyone is that lucky…

I guess the next question is ‘What should you eat?”

What do you think?
Terry Petrovick invites you to read..Facebook Prospecting Mistakes to AvoidMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 20, 2012 at 11:35 am

Well said, Terry. I love how you have a way of saying a lot in just a few words. What should you eat? You should eat food suitable for YOUR mind/body type. Even though the processed food industry treats us like cattle, we’re all too darned unique. :)


Jamella Biegel February 19, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Hi Sage,

I like the line about the seafood diet. It made me laugh :)

At my job, we are about to start a program called Am I Hungry. It’s a 12 week program that teaches how to recognize if we are truly hungry. I know that sometimes I eat just because food is there, or I’m bored, depressed, etc. This is not a good way to handle food, and I have a few extra pounds to show for it.

Looking foward to reading more posts in this series!
Jamella Biegel invites you to read..Why Did You Start Blogging?My Profile


Sage Reddy February 20, 2012 at 11:31 am

Thanks for sharing that, Jamella. Good for you! You’re on the right track. Until next time…


Akos Fintor February 19, 2012 at 3:03 am

Hey Sage,

Wild animals eat as much as they “need” instead of as much as they “want” .
We have so much to learn from them. :) …or we could just listen to our bodies instead of our minds.


Akos Fintor invites you to read..Why Law of Attraction Does Not Work?My Profile


Sage Reddy February 20, 2012 at 11:24 am

Well said, Akos. The undomesticated animals that roam free may be our biggest teachers yet. :)


Rebecca Woodhead February 19, 2012 at 12:40 am

Hunger’s painful. I feel blessed that I’ve been seriously hungry, though, because it changed the way my body felt about food. After fighting with my weight, I went through a stage of living on 50 pence a day (both me and my husband had lost our jobs, and my family’s business went down because of the recession) and stopped viewing food as the enemy. I got really focused on its nutritional value and how I could get every last bit of nutrition out of everything I ate, because I was malnourished. Different perspective.
Rebecca Woodhead invites you to read..Never Lose Your Sense of HumourMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 20, 2012 at 11:22 am

So good to see you here, Rebecca! And thank you so much for sharing that bit about your relationship with food and hunger. It made me tear up. Indeed, our lack of healthy relationship with food in the West is the direct result of our affluent culture. That said, in your case what was a financial crisis (as painful as it was) may have proved to be a profound blessing in disguise. You do not take food for granted anymore, for instance. I wish you great success in your new ventures. Blessings!


Easther February 17, 2012 at 11:08 pm

Hi Sage,

“I’m on a seafood diet. When I see food, I eat it.” ~ Anonymous that is funny.
I munch alot, I have the appetite, that after breakfast, which around 9ish, then at about 10,30 I would be looking for something to eat, either a biscuit, chocolate. I actually do need to control my appetite, and just eat when it’s time to eat.

thanks for the reminder Sage :)

Easther invites you to read..Five Questions you should be asking yourself before Starting a Niche BlogMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 20, 2012 at 11:16 am

You seem to be blessed with a fairly good metabolism, Easther. My best wishes to you on improving your relationship with food.


Alan February 17, 2012 at 10:48 pm

Seriously, warm water with a squeeze of lemon, must try that sometime. My problem is when there is good food around, I eat because I enjoy it, and I eat too much. My wife will not leave anything of hers out where I can find it because if it is out and visible I will probably eat it.

Which is wrong, I don’t drink enough water, I don’t eat enough veggies or fruit, but I am trying of late. So, there is hope for me yet?

Keep moving forward.

Alan invites you to read..Mastering Time: How You Can Leverage Every Hour So That You Earn More and Have More Fun!My Profile


Sage Reddy February 20, 2012 at 11:13 am

Ha, ha, Alan, you certainly are on the seafood diet: “I see food, I eat it!” :) Jokes aside, if you’re going to do it, I say try to give up the guilt. Allow yourself to indulge in any food without guilt. Then you’ll give it up on your own.


John Moussan February 17, 2012 at 12:40 am

“I’m on a seafood diet. When I see food, I eat it.” ~ Anonymous – Funny! Here is a trick I learned in my journey to seek optimum health… there is true and false hunger. You can drink warm water with a squeeze of lemon to determine which one you have…
John Moussan invites you to read..Are You Using ‘Magnetic’ Story Telling When Someone Asks You What You Do?My Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:35 am

Good to see you here, John. And thanks for that sharing that lemon water tip. It’s something I practice too. It works!


Sandra McLeod Humphrey February 16, 2012 at 7:01 pm

Great question! I’d never given it much thought, but I think I really do feel hunger pangs (especially if I’ve been immersed in a project and have forgotten to eat) which tell me it’s time to eat.
Sandra McLeod Humphrey invites you to read..Hot Issues, Cool Choices Book TrailerMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:30 am

Good to see you here, Sandra! Thanks for sharing that. I can relate to what you said. Food-wise, if I plan ahead and get sucked into a project, I’m in trouble. :)


David Sharp February 16, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Sage you pose the most unusual questions in your posts and certainly get folk thinking. I think if I had been asked that same question I would have been stumped.
I know when I’m hungry, but I’ve never been hungry in any sort of serious sence.

David Sharp invites you to read..Network Marketing Pro 3 Critical Things You Must Control To Ensure Your SuccessMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:29 am

Thanks David. Chances are, I’d be stumped by my own questions. :)


Jessica February 16, 2012 at 5:38 pm

Such a great question!

I think people over eat and such and are hungry due to not getting the proper nutrients our bodies need.

I know when i “juice” in my juicer its insane how full I am for hours on end. I also think its due to be power packed with nutrients by body needs so in turn I am full way longer.

When I eat processed food like a hamburger an hour later the hunger kicks in again. Why? Because its processed and contains no proper nutrients to keep my body full!!!

You know what they say you are what you eat so fuel your body properly :)

Great post to get people thinking.
Jessica invites you to read..Network Marketing Success – Tips For Growing Your Business Quickly.My Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:26 am

Good to see you here, Jessica. And thanks for sharing that. Indeed, the processed food industry has turned our body’s instincts against us. You seem to be quite in touch with your body. Good for you!


Stacy February 15, 2012 at 10:40 pm


That really is an interesting question. It’s something that I’ve wondered myself as I can’t always tell when I’m hungry. I had food issues as a teenager so I’m sure that plays into it.

Sometimes I don’t feel hungry but I feel like I need something and often I don’t even know what it is. I’ve heard it said that Americans can’t tell the difference between hunger and thirst and that I’m actually thirsty during those times. Could be!

Stacy invites you to read..Interview with Danny Iny from Firepole MarketingMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:23 am

Thanks for sharing that, Stacy. Food’s much more than nutrition. It also comforts us emotionally. Also, a lot of people think they’re hungry when in fact they’re simple thirsty. Nothing a glass of water couldn’t settle. :)


Tosin February 15, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Hi Sage,

How you come up with awesome posts like this is beyond me. You are a star!

I can identify with the fact that sometimes we eat because we think we have to, not because we should. I also think that over time we have trained our minds and stomach to get accustomed to that thinking.

We need to have that self-control. It is the way to go.

Tosin invites you to read..MLSP Success Stories: Tracy WalkerMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:19 am

Thanks Tosin! Star? It’s takes one to know one, right? :) Indeed, little of what we eat, especially in the West, has anything to do what our bodies need.


Catarina February 15, 2012 at 6:33 pm

Sage, Raymond really complicated the issue of hunger.

Your initial thought is the correct one. Every day a multitude of Westerners develop hunger. Happened to me today when I was on a train returning from a meeting.

Seems like Raymond has never been in a meeting that dragged on and he had to have lunch or dinner later. Hope that happens to him so he can get hungry:-)


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:17 am

Ha ha, thanks for sharing that Catarina. I’ve lost count of the number of meetings I’ve been in that have dragged on far too long while my stomach suffered silently. :)


Radu February 15, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Hey Sage,
Interesting post you have! The programmed meals are common in our society..For me , there are three main meals per day as well, with little variations in hours..Though I seek to dinner until 7-8 pm maximum.

Eating is controlled by the mind primarily and when you start thinking about food feelings will come up too..in many case people let negative/supressed emotions to mix with the impulse to eat..that’s how emotional over eating is born with a very logical explanation: “when I feel I to eat more now. I had a bad day”.

What I seek to do, every time I eat, no matter what it is on my plate to bless the food, be thankful for it and love it for what it does for my mind and body..Thus I’m more aware when I eat and can process and enjoy the food better. What I noticed..when you do that the body itself will announce you when it has no need for food anymore..without letting the mind in..it’s a practice worth implementing :)

Thanks for sharing your experience.
Radu invites you to read..Blog Content Ideas: 40 Simple Ways To Never Run DryMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:14 am

Good to see you here, Radu. And thanks for sharing your thoughts. You’re wise, my friend. Indeed, the mind and the body can work together… as soon as each can listen to the other.


patricia February 15, 2012 at 3:32 pm

in our society we eat not because we are hungry but because we are programmed to do so either by our minds that tell us it’s time to eat , either by the environment where the ads bombard us with the illusion that if we do not consume X or Y product we are ” losers”.
For our body to burn we need to ignite the fire of combustion and this is done only when our body tells us it is ready to burn because it needs to be fed, in a proper way ( not with empty calories).
If we could only listen to our body rather to the outside stimuli , we would avoid so many problems.
The biggest pharmacy is th eone we have between our ears….
Thanks for this nice article I always enjoy reading your blog posts;)
patricia invites you to read..3 Great Steps to Financial Freedom: The Savvy Businesswoman’s Relationship With MoneyMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:09 am

Thanks for sharing your words of wisdom and keen observations, Patricia. You are a wise woman. Indeed, healing begins when we start to pay attention to our bodies.


Nile February 15, 2012 at 9:45 am

I like to eat. I do eat because I can at times, but on special occasions. The rest, I eat when I need to. At this point in my life, I have been revamping my eating style as I want to get near the healthy level I was about 10 years ago. And I know I did not indulge as much then as I did over the past decade.
Nile invites you to read..Finding Inspiration For Your Site’s Content And DesignMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:06 am

Love to eat, Nile? Me too! Thanks for your honest self-assesment. I’d say you’re already on your way to an optimal state of health.


Nick Broutin February 15, 2012 at 12:40 am

I am definitely always up for a good meal. I eat a lot but I also work it off too.
Nick Broutin invites you to read..Social Media Marketing Can Open Many Doors For You and Your BusinessMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:04 am

Good for you, Nick. If you work it off you can get away with almost anything, food wise.


Yorinda February 14, 2012 at 11:57 pm

Hi Sage,

a very though provoking post.

A while a go I heard the saying that the western society is ‘overfeed and malnourished’. Our bellies are full but our cells are starving and so is our heart.

When we wait for 30 minutes after eating our body can actually tell us whether it had enough unless the whole ‘leptin balance’ is out of kilter.

Thank you for sharing this!
Yorinda invites you to read..How to create your own Vision Board PosterMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:03 am

Those are words of wisdom, Yorinda. Thank you! Indeed, the affluent West is nutritionally impoverished.


alicia February 14, 2012 at 10:02 pm

I have found that the more mature I become, the more I have to watch what I eat. The metabolism is not the same and then I wonder why I have few more pounds than last week. Your article is very inspiring and helpful, thanks.
alicia invites you to read..Comment on yBoggle Travel by Benefiting From Discount Cruise Prices | Article ShopMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 10:00 am

Good to see you here, Alicia. Indeed, with age comes wisdom. Or least maturity. :)


Lou Barba February 14, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Hi Sage,

Of your post, it can be agreed, “He said a mouthful!” :) I often say that my stomach lies to me all the time. I know that I’m not HUNGRY when I just ate two hours ago. My mind knows about how people in other parts of the world survive, so I trump my stomach with my mind. I think those feelings of hunger are habitual in nature, sometimes if you’re truly hungry, there are no such pangs. I guess, for your health, you have to put mind over matter.

Lou Barba invites you to read..Over the River and Through the WoodsMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 9:59 am

Thanks for your thoughts, Lou. I’d say both the body and mind are fallible… until they find refuge (and are anchored) in spirit.


marquita herald February 14, 2012 at 4:48 pm

Another thought provoking and complex topic Sirinvas! As far as how to know when we’re hungry – anyone who’s ever had to fight the battle of the bulge knows it’s as much about emotions as physical need. There’s also the thirst issue – I learned long ago to drink a glass of water when I first begin to think about food. Often it’s just that we’re dehydrated and that will take care of the pangs. I confess I used to ‘eat because I could’ when I worked at corp job – and most of what I ate was junk because I was so stressed and worked such long hours. These days I tend to focus more on what and when I eat and experiencing real hunger before I start shoveling the food :-)
marquita herald invites you to read..How to Make Valentine’s Day More MeaningfulMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 9:57 am

Thanks for sharing that, Marquita. I can relate to your bad food habits back when you were in the corporate world. I too lived in that world for a while and I did the same thing. It was my own broken relationship with food that inspired me to heal this relationship, which in turn inspired Eat for Joy the book. Mahalo!


Alan Cheng February 14, 2012 at 3:04 pm

I’m afraid I’m the “eat because I can” type.

I just love food. A friend visited me from Australia about 3 months ago and I took him and his fiancée out to “all you can eats”…twice. They thought I was nuts!

Seriously though, I know I should be more careful with what I eat. But easier said than done :-(

That’s why I’m a regular reader of your blog!
Alan Cheng invites you to read..How To Hire A Freelancer For Your Online BusinessMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 9:52 am

Thanks for your honesty, Alan, which I believe is the first step in cultivating a good relationship with food. When we’re young, we can get away with anything. Then age happens. Then the body is less forgiving and we’re forced to become more self-aware.


Kostas February 14, 2012 at 11:34 am

Hi Sage,
For me food is something that I just need to stay alive and nothing more (probably chocolate is something more hehe!!!) …
Kostas invites you to read..How to Build Your Brand On PinterestMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 9:47 am

Food for you is nothing more than fuel, Kostas. I get that. Thanks for your honesty. Cheers!


Barnett February 14, 2012 at 6:47 am

Personally I think this Raymond guy maybe a little lost in life or he may have been fed with a silver spoon all his life…

Whatever the case maybe this post brought out a great point when it comes to eating. As imperfect people it is only naturally to be greedy and to indulge in things, therefore If we are able to constantly eat good food whenever we want to, just because we can then… why not?


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 9:45 am

Good to see you here, Barnett! And thank for sharing your thoughts. The trouble with “eating just because you can” is that it disconnects the mind from the body. Which, in turn, leads to trouble on all fronts.


David Merrill February 14, 2012 at 5:27 am

I’m reminded, Sage, of the philosophical question, “do you live to eat, or eat to live”.

Certainly, we prefer to think we eat to live. In that case, we might think we are hungry when our body cues us that we NEED essential nutrients.

In that case, food is not essential to our happiness and self-fulfillment, only to our survival.

If we, in fact, live to eat, then hunger has little meaning. We are not eating for survival in that case, but for enjoyment.

That being the case… whether our primary “enjoyment” is food, drugs, sex, music, sports or whatever… our lives are diminished in purpose and elevated in sensual fulfillment and even excess.

I think I would answer the question, “how can I tell when I’m hungry” like this: When you are physically compelled to interrupt your work and your mission to take the steps necessary to avoid starvation.

Then again, I could be over-thinking this.
David Merrill invites you to read..Twitter Strategy To Drive TrafficMy Profile


Sage Reddy February 17, 2012 at 9:43 am

Good to see you here again, David. I don’t think you’re over-thinking this at all. You’ve presented your food philosophy in a few words, and done a great job of it. After all, food is much more than nutrition. Thanks for spilling your thoughts on this matter. Cheers!


Leave a Comment

CommentLuv badge
This blog uses premium CommentLuv which allows you to put your keywords with your name if you have had 3 approved comments. Use your real name and then @ your keywords (maximum of 3)

Previous post:

Next post: