How do you know when you’re hungry?

Your body gives you very clear signals for hunger and thirst and yet, we’ve stopped listening. Many of us have tried to control food intake by dieting, or using the clock to determine hunger. 12pm?

Lunchtime! I must be hungry. (or not…) And so the cues that the body gives to signal hunger or satiation have largely been ignored.

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Those cues still exist, but we’ve tuned out. Learning to pay attention once again to your body’s language can make attaining a healthy weight easier, allow you to stay there for longer, and make you much happier in the process.

In order to learn your hunger cues once again, you’ll need to begin by gathering information.

To get started, keep a food journal for two weeks (or longer if you like).

Learn Your Hunger Signals_2

Record when and what you eat, as well as how you’re feeling. In addition, imagine your hunger as a fuel tank. Imagine how full your tank is, and write down your gauge (you can use numbers if that’s easier).

Hunger Tank:

If your tank is on E you’re starving. Might be feeling a little dizzy. Anything sounds good. At E, you’re more likely to make poor food choices and over eat. At a quarter of a tank you’re hungry, but not starving.

Your stomach might growl and if you let it go, you’ll get irritable. At a half tank, you’re neither hungry, nor full.

You’re satisfied. At 3/4 tank, you might be pleasantly full, and if you eat a little more you’ll tip toward uncomfortable. On a full tank, you need to lie down and unbutton your pants. You might even feel a little bit sick. In an ideal world, you’d never drop below a quarter of a tank, and never eat above 3/4 of a tank.

This likely, in unrealistic, but something to aspire to. As you begin to pay attention to when and how you eat, you’ll become aware of patterns.

You might inhale a snack every afternoon because you’re bored, or overeat at night in front of the tv. When you know when and how you eat, you can then begin to change, and make choices.

If you’re out to dinner with friends and are feeling full, but can’t resist dessert, then eat it. But do so mindfully. Our relationship to food is more complicated than many of us realize.

Food can be many things: a reward, a comfort, celebration, fuel, etc. Gather information on how you fuel your body, and the cues that may have been missing.

The more you pay attention, the more cues your body will give, and the more you will learn. A few tips: Never get too hungry or too full. Eat slowly.

When you eat, make sure that’s all you do (not watch tv, or surf the web, etc.). Bring snacks! What’s your body telling you? Feel free to leave a comment, as I’d love to know!

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