The Most Helpful Healthy-Eating Tool
Learning how to listen and respond to your body's hunger cue is an invaluable key to nourishing yourself well and avoiding overeating. It can help you find balance in any situation - from an ordinary Monday night to a weekend bbq.
As babies, we're internally motivated. Meaning we eat when we're hungry and stop when satisfied. But as we grow up, we're influenced by more external forces. We're praised for cleaning our plates or given a treat as a reward for good behavior. After a while, decisions about when and how much to eat become detached from our physical feelings. By the time we're adults, we often ifnore our internal cues of hunger and fullness. We end up eating because we're compelled to finish what's been piled in front of us or because we "deserve" that treat after a long day's work. On the other hand, we also learn to ignore our hunger as we hear more and more about restrictive diets that tell us to tame our appetite.
So what can you do to reconnect with and honor your internal sense of hunger and satisfaction? Stop, check in with yourself, and assign a number to how hungry or satisfied you are on a scale from 1 to 10. 1 is "famished" and 10 is "painfully full". The goal is to stay near the middle of the scale, between 3, where you have strong feelings of hunger, and 7, where you are full, but not to the point where you feel ill. To do this, you must listen to your body and eat when you feel genuine physical hunger and stop eating when you feel satisfied. It might take some practice to figure out what number you think you're at, but merely stopping to check in can help.