Want Something to Eat?

Candy Bars
Photo by oskay via Flickr

If someone asks if you’re hungry and you have to think about it before answering, you’re probably not truly hungry. You’re not asking your stomach if it needs more food. You’re thinking about whether it can fit any more food. This happens to us all too often in our modern lifestyles where food is plentiful and easily accessible wherever we are.

Are you really hungry?
For example, when you’re sitting on the couch watching television and you think, “Hey a candy bar and a soda sound good right now,” you’re probably not really hungry. What’s  happening is that your mind is telling you that the candy bar and soda would taste really good and would make watching your show more enjoyable, not that you’re really hungry and need nourishment. This happens to all of us, especially if we associate certain activities, such as watching television, with snacking. We have to separate activities that trigger the desire to eat, from the foods they make us want to eat.  This is especially important for activities we do a lot or do for long periods of time when we do them.

What you can do to prevent overeating
Overeating is a bad habit, which can be broken if you’re aware of why you’re doing it and implement simple strategies to overcome it. Here are some tips to combat overeating.

  1. Eat slowly: When we eat quickly, we often eat more than we need before the stomach registers how full it is.  Set time aside to sit down and slowly eat your meals. Make sure to savor each bite. When you eat slowly your stomach will feel fuller with less food and you will be less likely to overeat.
  2. Take a break: If you take a 2 minute break when you’re half way through your meal, it gives your body time to register how full you are. That will make you less likely to eat after you’re physically full.
  3. Stand up: We’ve all experienced the sensation after a big meal where we feel full and then when we stand up, we feel overly full.  So, if you stand up for a moment near the end of the meal, you can see if you’re still truly hungry before polishing off the rest of your food.
  4. Combat negative emotions and conflicts: If you are feeling bored, angry, having conflicts at home or are frustrated don’t turn to food to make you feel better. Find an alternate way to combat these emotions. Maybe go for a walk or run instead. It’s healthier for you, releases endorphins that make you feel better, helps to work off the energy that negative emotions create and burns calories instead of adding them.
  5. Keep a food diary: Since you have to write everything down, you will think twice about eating more than you need.
  6. Don’t reward yourself with food: Instead of rewarding yourself with cake or ice cream, reward yourself with non-food items such as a massage, a new outfit, a new houseplant, etc.. It’s healthier for you and doesn’t set back your goals at all.  Besides, shopping or a spa treatment can be fun and more motivating to work towards.
  7. Say no to temptation: Plan strategies to cope with situations that might tempt you. If there is always cake and cookies at work, find ways to avoid them when they’re there or learn to wait out the urge.  If you are not really hungry the urge to eat them will subside. In case you really are hungry, make sure you have a tasty, healthier snack available to eat instead.

Remember, if your stomach isn’t telling you that you’re hungry, then you’re not really hungry. Your stomach should feel empty and possibly even be growling. If not, you’re adding food before your body needs more. The secret to maintaining your weight is eating the same amount of calories as your body burns. Nothing mysterious there, but it’s something that can be hard for many people to do. Often it’s because they eat when their mind says they’re hungry even though their stomach isn’t in agreement.

So, what am I saying here? It might be time to reevaluate when we eat. Next time you think you’re hungry, have your mind ask your stomach. If your stomach agrees, then you’re really hungry and it’s probably a good time to have something to eat. Give your stomach a second to answer before you start in on that snack, even if it’s just a bag of sliced carrots.

Comments (7)

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  1. This is such a great post.
    I started ‘intuitive eating’ years ago and it means I have the freedom to eat whatever I feel like eating whenever I’m hungry.
    The more I listen to my body, the easier it is to nurture it with healthy food.
    I now know when I need water and what sort of food I need. It’s amazing and it means that my body finds its own healthy stable weight.
    We are bombarded with unhealthy messages regarding diet and weight and I particularly resent these messages when they reach my young daughter.
    You are championing the attitude to food we should all be modelling and being an example to our children. Keep up the good work – it’s an inspiration.
    Best wishes
    Heather x

  2. m says:

    I like it! 7 fantastic tips. thanks for this!

  3. Rosy says:

    Great post, Talli!!! Great tips. Also, I try not to drink liquids during meals. It’s a piece of advise I learned from my grandfather.

  4. Rosy says:

    Update: I’m sorry, didn’t complete my thought. I blame the time, it’s late.
    My grandfather believed that if you drank liquids with meals, you were harming your teeth and you would eat more (because you were washing down the food).

  5. Frank says:

    During meals: Just drink water.
    When wanting a snack at work: take a bag of carrots with you.

  6. Ramneet says:

    Hey thanks for that info.

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