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EATING WELL IN KANSAS CITY - March 2018 - Kansas City

The Difference Between Real Hunger vs. Cravings 

An excerpt from Turbo Metabolism 

By Pankaj Vij


As the modern Western lifestyle spreads around the globe, so too does metabolic syndrome — a cluster of symptoms that increases the risk of developing heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other conditions. The good news: metabolic syndrome can be tamed by a sensible program of exercise, natural foods, stress management, and quality sleep. In his new book Turbo Metabolism, Dr. Vij distills a mass of medical research into a simple, effective program for vibrant health. Avoiding fads and gimmicks, he provides practical advice, case studies of ordinary people, and brief sections that debunk common medical myths. We hope you’ll enjoy this short excerpt from the book. 



One of the best urological surgeons in the country once told me, “I don’t do anything special, I just cut and stitch all day — the magic of healing is in the body itself.” 


In fact, it takes a lot of effort to overwhelm the healing system of the body. Still, we’ve found the perfect recipe for disaster in our modern disease-promoting lifestyle of caloric excess, which originated with toxic substances mislabeled as food and has been coupled with unmanaged stress and a lack of physical activity and sleep.


When you put the right fuel in your body, health and healing happen almost automatically. You are “designed” to move naturally. You do not need to do anything drastic. My program simply asks you to eat, move, and live in the unique way that you are designed to do. Everything else will take care of itself because the wisdom of healing is within. 


The reason you need to get started right now is that the sooner you follow the right path, the easier it will be to heal. The further you go the wrong way, the greater the effort required to correct course.


Eating for health — rather than eating for entertainment — should be a conscious commitment.


Taking responsibility and affirming our control and autonomy, which is what we do when we consciously decide to nurture and nourish ourselves, are as applicable here as in other aspects of our life. 


When we have been addicted to an unhealthy lifestyle, it takes time and effort to break the addiction. In fact, it can take up to forty-five days to take an idea from cognition (understanding) to emotional buy-in and finally to actual behavior change.


The goal is to live in sync with our natural rhythms in an effortless way. This can happen as we move to convert our surroundings and routine so that healthy habits become our default. Think about a child learning to tie his or her shoelaces: The process goes from not knowing how to do it, to learning the steps, to practicing the steps, to finally being able to do it reflexively, without even thinking about it.


And here is the good news: The rewards — of more energy, vitality, and zest for life — are almost immediate. Although a complete transformation takes months, within a week or two, the taste buds start to adjust and the body starts to respond in such a way that you will not want to regress to previous unhealthy habits. The compliments you will get from friends, family, and coworkers will be a bonus.


The Difference between Real Hunger and Craving

Your goal should be to maintain satiety or satisfaction, to start thinking about food as a source of energy and wisdom from nature. However, to understand satiety, you must first understand hunger. What does hunger mean to you? Craving sugar, chocolate, cheese, or meat is less likely real hunger and more likely an addiction reaction, arising from the effect of these substances on the reward center of the brain. The same sensations of craving — jitteriness, headaches, fatigue, irritability — are present in drug withdrawal. True hunger is a mouth or throat sensation similar to thirst. We often mistake thirst, boredom, nutritional deficiency, or a low blood sugar for hunger. 

Have you ever been truly hungry?

A good gauge of whether a meal is truly nourishing is the degree to which it keeps you satiated. A meal that is biochemically suited to your needs should keep you satisfied for three to five hours.

Shedding ugly belly fat can be the key to reversing diabetes, improving heart health and memory, increasing energy and vitality, improving erectile dysfunction, preventing cancer, and getting rid of sleep apnea and fatty liver disease, in addition to injecting you with more energy and zest for life.

When your body is given the right fuel, you gain energy and vitality, and there is no need for it to be hoarded as fat in places where it can cause harm.

Every time you eat or drink, you are either nourishing your body or feeding disease. You have two choices: You can either “try” — that is, make excuses and then fail — or you can succeed no matter what obstacles come your way. 

In the words of Yoda in Star Wars: “Do or do not....There is no try.”


Excerpted from the book Turbo Metabolism. Copyright ©2018 by Pankaj Vij, MD. Printed with permission from New World Library—


Evolving Magazine

Kansas City

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Pankaj Vij, MD, FACP, is the author of Turbo Metabolism. As a doctor of internal medicine, he has helped thousands of patients lose weight, manage chronic health conditions, and improve their physical fitness. Visit him online at

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