17 Mar Are You Really Hungry?
Ever since we were little people, we ate according to the time.
We started feeding our bodies in the morning because our mums prepared breakfast before school. We ate at 10am recess, at our 12pm lunch break and again during our afternoon playtime. If we were lucky, we would get a treat when we got home and we ate again at 6pm because that was when dinner was served.
Eating based on the clock has continued into our adult lives, but other factors have also crept in. We eat in a meeting because a client has put on a nice spread or we eat that entire dish because that was the portion in the take-away container. Now not only is time dictating when we eat, but other factors are influencing why we eat and how much we consume. We stopped listening to our bodies and instead we started listening to these outside factors. And it stuck.
Our bodies often don’t actually experience the feeling of hunger because we fill it up again before there is time for these signs to arise. Most won’t let that slight rumbling of the stomach move to that hollow, empting feeling in the gut. As our hunger increases the signs such as irritability, short-temperedness, dizziness or headaches come into play.
While I’m not suggesting you let your body get into that state, but it is important to start listening to your body’s needs rather than running on autopilot and eating when time or events tell you to. It’s okay to say ‘no’ to that muffin served at your morning meeting or save half of your salad for later, because the portion was more than your stomach needed right then.
Here are some tips to help you become more in tune with your body. Follow these and I’m sure you will find eating becomes a more enjoyable and satisfying experience.
1. Find foods that keep you satisfied
Identify the foods that keep you feeling full for three to five hours. For me, a great breakfast contains good quality proteins, fats and fibre. Something like boiled eggs and avocado goes down a treat with some homemade sauerkraut or a berrie smoothie loaded up with nuts and seeds both these things keep me satisfied right up until I’m ready for lunch. If you eat your breakfast and you’re hungry an hour later, you probably aren’t eating enough of the right foods or your portion is too small.
2. Keep healthy foods in sight
When you smell or see your favourite foods, good or bad, it’s hard to resist even if we’re not really hungry. Take that biscuit jar in your work kitchen for example. You’re far more likely to eat a biscuit while you’re making your tea than ignoring them because you’re really not hungry. If you keep foods that are healthy for you in sight than you are more likely to consume them. So swap the biscuit jar for a fruit bowl instead.
3. Identify your emotions vs hunger
Emotional eating is not a new thing and it’s experienced by many. Often we eat because we are stressed, bored or upset and unfortunately in most of these case we turn to unhealthy food options when we are in this emotional state. It’s important to start differentiating between our emotions and hunger so that we start to break these patterns.
4. Eat mindfully
Shovelling you’re lunch down in between meetings or rushing through dinner will mostly likely leave you still feeling hungry. That’s because your body hasn’t had enough time to register the feeling of fullness. In this case, you’ll often eat more than your body actually needs, but feel less satisfied. Instead, slow down and tune into what you’re eating and how your body is feeling afterwards.
5. Listen to your thirst signals
Often our body confuses hunger with thirst. If you haven’t hydrated your body probably you will start to feel some of those hunger signals like light-headedness or headaches. Before you feed your body with food, drink a glass of water. Wait five to ten minutes and then reassess whether you’re actually hungry or thirsty.
It’s time we start listening to our body’s needs rather than just running on autopilot. By following some of these tips, not only will you be more in tune with your body’s signals but you will also form a healthier relationship with food and feel more emotional satisfied.