Identifying real hunger can be the trickiest part to losing weight. One audience member says she feels like she's hungry all the time and can't distinguish that feeling from exhaustion or boredom or feeling like she deserves a reward. She says she's even hungry at this very moment. "I would like a cheesecake," she says.
Geneen says many people don't know how to recognize hunger. "Thinking you're hungry isn't being hungry, and if you haven't let yourself be hungry for a long time, it's going to take awhile," she says. "Usually when a body is really hungry it doesn't want cheesecake. That's the mind. That's mind hunger. When a body is hungry and you eat, there's a sort of 'Yes!' When your mind is hungry and you're eating because you're bored or agitated or any other reason, it's sort of just like piling something in. When you're hungry, food is actually satisfying."
So often people eat to avoid other feelings entirely, Oprah says. "When you see yourself and you're eating and eating, you've eaten a bowl of popcorn, you don't even know it's gone and what happened to it, it's because you're trying to numb yourself," she says. "Because if I feel tired, that means I'm going to have to make a decision about giving my body some rest. And if I don't think I can make that decision about giving my body some rest, then I have to do something to make this be okay."
Oprah says Geneen sums this up perfectly in a passage from Women, Food and God. She writes: "Overeating does not lead to rapture. It leads to burping and farting and being so sick that you can't think of anything but how full you are. That's not love. That's suffering."