What We Can Learn from Hunger
Do you ever eat because you’re bored, stressed, you deserve it, because everybody else is eating, or simply because “it’s time?”
What about because you’re hungry?
Few of us eat because we’re hungry because we rarely feel hunger these days. With constant grazing, we’re eating from the time we wake up until the time we lie down. We’re eating midnight snacks and 6 a.m. bagels. We’re eating while watching TV and while commuting. We’re on everybody else’s schedule but our own body’s.
And often, if we’re eating while in motion or otherwise occupied, we aren’t really mindful of how much we’re eating, or even the quality of what we’re eating. Ever down a bag of chips in the car the and then head straight to the fridge for dinner once you get home? You’re no longer hungry, but it’s “time” to eat.
Some of us, who may have a history of not having enough food to eat, may eat to avoid the emotional triggers that feeling hungry might produce. We may be eating more than we should because we “deserve” it.
Unless you’re aware of these dynamics, you can’t address them.
Hunger, in fact is a useful sensation, as this registered dietitian explains. It signals to our body that it’s time to eat. When we eat for reasons other than hunger, we’re often taking in more calories than our bodies can use.
But how do you know when you’re really hungry? As she notes, a Hunger Scale can help you get in touch with your body’s needs. Here’s how it works: Your internal scale prompts you to eat when you are “pleasantly hungry” but not starving, and to stop when you are “pleasantly full” but not stuffed.
But before you get on that scale, you might want to spend a few days simply monitoring and noting when you eat, what you eat and why. Note how often you eat because you are truly hungry. And the true reasons you eat when you aren’t. Be honest, and gentle, with yourself.
And when you’re ready, allow yourself the sensation of feeling hungry. So that when you sit down with your appetite (and pretty food on the plate, a fork, a knife, a napkin, no TV, no distractions), you savor your food for all of its goodness – and all of the good it does you.