Be a master at understanding your hunger and fullness cues.
It’s 12 o’clock and you’re on your way to eat lunch. But are you actually hungry when you sit down to eat? Are you only eating at this time because you’ve been conditioned to?
There are many factors that may affect your decision about when to eat, such as the time of day, your schedule, social engagements, and boredom. For now, I’m focusing specifically on hunger and fullness cues.
Take a minute to list your physical hunger and fullness cues. While your tummy grumbling may be a good cue, dig deeper to see what you can come up with. There is always more than one cue.
Here is an example list:
Understanding your physical cues is important because that knowledge can help prevent you from overeating when you reach extreme hunger. Understanding when you’re full helps prevent you from having Thanksgiving belly and food coma. And lastly, understanding both may enable you to have a more consistent amount of energy throughout the day.
If you’re having trouble distinguishing your hunger and fullness cues, it may be a sign that you need to take time out for yourself to discover your unique attributes. Practicing a mindful eating exercise like the one below once a week or more can help you become more intuitive over time.
Mindful Meal Time
What you need: your meal, a table, a journal, yourself
What to put aside: your phone, book, tablet, and any other distraction
Sit down with your meal and journal. Jot down your hunger from a scale of 1-10, 1 being the least hungry and 10 being ravenous.
Let your eyes see and appreciate the plate of food.
Begin eating, putting your fork down between bites. Take your time to taste the food – the flavor, textures, the aromas, etc.
When you’ve had enough, stop eating. This means you do not have to finish your plate.
Clear your table and then jot down in your journal your fullness on a scale of 1-10, 1 being not full at all, 5 being satisfied, and 10 being stuffed.
This exercise allows you to check-in with yourself before and after meals. Giving yourself time to think about what you need and how you feel is important for your health. You may notice on some days you’re hungrier than others and may need a second helping in order to feel satisfied. Other days it may be the opposite. Your level of activity and the amount of food you’ve eaten earlier in the day are just some of the factors at play. In other words, always consider the external factors that can contribute to your overall state of hunger and fullness.
Be kind to your body and let it be heard. Your body will return the favor.