Do you only eat when youÕre physically hungry? And do you always stop eating when youÕre satisfied? ?
If you really think about it, you probably find yourself eating for many reasons (not all of which are a biological need for more calories). You might find yourself eating because:
You normally eat at this time.
YouÕre at a party.
YouÕre really upset.
YouÕre really happy.
ThereÕs still food on your plate.Ê
ThereÕs food sitting out.
Someone offered you food.Ê
And the list could go on.
The truth is that hunger isnÕt the only force that drives us to eat.
For many of us, this lack of awareness around WHY weÕre eating can throw a real wrench in our progress and long-term success in managing our nutrition.
The occasional indulgence or emotional bout of eating is likely normal and simply part of the human experience. But a consistent detachment from when youÕre actually hungry and when youÕre not could quickly lead to unwanted weight gain or just a lack of control.
It might seem silly to have to teach yourself how to recognize when youÕre hungry and when youÕre full, but in a world where food is everywhere (and delicious!), awareness and moderation can be understandably challenging.
Here are a few strategies you can use to bring more awareness to your appetite, what your body needs and when youÕve likely had enough.
Question Why YouÕre Eating
Just because you typically eat at a certain time doesnÕt always mean you have to.Ê
When you wake up in the morning, maybe you donÕt always need to eat breakfast right away if youÕre not hungry yet. Maybe a glass of water and a cup of coffee is the perfect start to your day and you should delay breakfast a few hours to when youÕre actually hungry.Ê
Our hunger levels arenÕt the same every day and what your body needs can change, so taking a second to pause and see where you are when mealtime rolls around can prevent you from eating when you donÕt actually need to.Ê
When reaching for your next meal, consider your options.Ê
If youÕre reaching for foods such as candy, cake, pizza or some other kind of highly processed food, consider alternative food choices (like aÊbalancedÊmeal with protein and veggies).
If that doesnÕt sound good and youÕre wanting only highly processed foods and nothing else will satisfy you, itÕs very possible that youÕre not actually hungry but using food as some type of distraction.Ê
Customize Your Portions
If you track your macros, it can be very easy to get stuck in the world of ÒsuggestedÓ serving sizes, thinking that you must select and eat your foods in increments of Ò28 grams.ÓÊ
Remember, you have permission to eat your foods in whatever portion size you want. If 22 grams is going to do the trick, eat that much!Ê
If your appetite isnÕt calling for all 28 grams of that popcorn or you donÕt really want the whole 4 ounces of chicken, you can eat less.Ê
Your world. Your rules. Listen to your body.Ê
YouÕve probably heard people say eat slowly and thatÕs actually really great advice.
If weÕre shoving food down quickly, we lose the ability to stay connected to the time when we hit that ÒsatisfiedÓ line. Eat slowly and make sure youÕre not stuffing yourself.Ê
Not eating past the satisfied line will make a tremendous difference in overall calories consumed. YouÕll probably be surprised at how quickly youÕre satisfied!Ê
Clean Plates Are Overrated
ItÕs easy to get carried away when youÕre eating something delicious like lobster mac and cheese or a DQ Cookie Jar Blizzard. You want to eat ALL OF IT! ItÕs so good, not a drop can go to waste!
But if youÕre not enjoying it any longer and youÕre just forcing it down, itÕs still going to waste.
ItÕs particularly important that once a calorically dense food isnÕt enjoyable anymore and youÕve really scratched that itch to eat it, you stop.Ê
You donÕt need to clean your plate. You just need to eat until youÕre satisfied.
Strive for Intuitive Eating
At WAG, we encourage our members not to completely restrict their favorite foods.
ThatÕs because we believe that when a diet doesnÕt bend, it breaks. So we help you enjoy those treats in moderation and learn how toÊlisten to your bodyÊwhen youÕve had enough.
When you do so, you stop obsessing over ÒbadÓ foods and become free from yo-yo dieting.Ê
Evaluating your own hunger level isnÕt always straightforward though. ItÕs aÊmuscleÊthat many of us havenÕt trained.
But with a little mindfulness practice, you become much more aware of when youÕre hungry and when youÕre satisfied.
If you want more guidance and support on making this type of change to your nutrition habits, consider working with aÊone-on-one nutrition coach.
Our WAG coaches have helped thousands of people completely transform their livesÑandÊwe can help you too.