Hunger and Pain - More similarities than you think

7 min. reading time

At first glance, pain and hunger seem to have little to do with each other. If you look further, there are many similarities! Getting to know these kinds of comparisons makes it easier to see how you can positively influence your pain.

Let's get started. 

1. Pain and hunger are both 'warning systems' of our bodies. 

Hunger warns us of an imminent shortage of nutrients.

Pain warns us of imminent damage.

Note that both say 'imminent'. Pain and hunger both arise before we really get into trouble. If we do not get hungry until we have a shortage of food, the warning will come too late. If we only get pain when we suffer damage, the warning would also come too late! You want to take your hand off the stove before there is any real damage. Both systems are like an alarm: they warn before major problems arise. 

2. Pain and hunger can both be disturbed. 

Someone can have 'chronic hunger', without a shortage of food. 

A person can have 'chronic pain' without damage to the body.

There are plenty of people, maybe you too, who are much more hungry than they would like. Who have received enough nutrients, or may be overweight, but whose brains still indicate that they are hungry. The hunger system has been disrupted. The same happens with pain, it often happens that there is no damage in the body (anymore) to be found, but that the pain system still keeps warning! 

3. You can stick to a schedule to restore the system. 

A diet is needed to restore the hunger system.

To restore the pain system, an activity schedule is needed.

If a person's hunger system no longer works properly, he or she is more hungry than necessary because of the nutrients. The worst advice you can give someone is: 'Eat when you're hungry'. The result is that someone will eat too much. It is precisely then that a diet is needed, or that someone will have to deliberately eat less, or other food, for a period of time, in order to reduce the feeling of hunger. But, don't suddenly start eating too little!

If the pain system no longer works properly, the worst advice you can give is: 'Exercise little, especially if you are in pain'. The result is that your brain becomes convinced that something is wrong (because why else would you move less) and they cause more pain! You could say that someone needs a 'movement diet'. A diagram that shows how you can build up your movement. So don't start exercising all of a sudden, build it up quietly. 

Perhaps you can think of a number of alarm systems in your body? Do they work in a similar way?

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