We’ve all been there especially when you’re trying to keep you’re weight in check …. Sat at home dreaming about what’s in the fridge, in the office when the birthday doughnuts come out or when you’re walking down the high street and the smell of freshly baked pastries wafts past. It’s so easy just to cave in because these treats taste great.
Being surrounded by a lot of tempting food stimuli can lead us to eating for all the wrong reasons. Let’s face it strictly speaking there is only one primal reason we should eat… because we’re hungry, not because of our emotions or stress and social pressure, not because something tastes amazing or because we’re bored. Sounds simple but we know that isn’t the case with such deliciousness calling out your name.
With all the distractions and noise that effect our day to day lives we’re becoming more disconnected from determining what we need on a basic level. Sometimes we don’t get chance to listen to our bodies’ fundamental cues or interpret them correctly i.e. being guided by just our sense of smell and what we can see may lead to eating in excess.
What Does Hunger Feel Like?
We all think we know what hunger feels like but do we? When we strip back all of the interference going on around us we need to ensure that we’re paying attention to the correct signs.
When an impulse to eat comes along, stop and consider are you acting on a genuine hunger pang or is it a different cue that is influencing you.
According to Oxford Dictionaries the definition of ‘hunger’ is: A feeling of discomfort or weakness caused by lack of food, coupled with the desire to eat. Common symptoms of hunger include:
- Feeling of emptiness in your stomach
- Rumbling or growling stomach
- Nausea (feeling sick)
- Feelings of dizziness, faintness or light-headedness
- Irritability, easily agitated (known as hangry – hungry and angry!)
- Lack of concentration
Before your next morsel take a step back and assess the signals that your body is giving you, and ask yourself why you would like to eat it. This in itself is a key step in becoming a ‘mindful eater’, tuning into what your body needs, knowing exactly whether you’re hungry or not.
If you think you’re hungry but don’t feel uncomfortable with it i.e. no tummy grumbles the first thing to do its get your hands on a glass of water – no extra calories, bonus! It may be that you were dehydrated rather than hungry.
If you could be bored or think you are using food as a crutch for something else change up what your doing, distract yourself. Call a friend or family member, go on a walk or do the laundry all this can help to switch your focus a way from being tempted by food if you’re not genuinely hungry.
You could note down everything that you are eating in the day, this will help you see whether you should or shouldn’t be hungry from what you’ve consumed so far that day. There are plenty of apps out there that record food diaries as well as good old fashioned pen and paper.
Why Am I still hungry?
You’ve put off eating for a reasonable time, you’re actually hungry you’ve eaten your meal….. so why are you still hungry?
Your stomach can hold up to 4 litres of volume — about 17 cups — but the feeling of satiety is not caused by your stomach being full. Instead, feeling full is a result of your brain reacting to chemicals released when you put food or drink in your stomach. Your brain takes around 20 minutes to register these chemicals. After your meal, the levels continue to rise over 10 to 30 minutes. They stay elevated for three to five hours following the meal, keeping you sated. As the chemical levels fall, the feeling of hunger returns. If you do not feel full directly following a meal, wait. As the level of chemicals increases, your hunger will dissipate. (Source: SFGATE)
You may have eaten your food too quickly so it is best to wait 20-30 minutes before you eat anything else or drink a glass of water in case you are a little dehydrated.
If you still feel hungry….. you may actually still be hungry! Try and eat high protein food as part of your meals it helps keep you feeling fuller for longer.