In order to use this BEST approach to dieting, you need to become aware of your own bodily signals of hunger and fullness. This is mindful eating. Ask yourself this, are you normally hungry when you eat, or do you just eat? It's common for people to simply eat out of habit, socialization, to (temporarily) fulfill emotions or due to proximity of food. Think about it, how many times have you grabbed something to eat just because your friend did? Or how many times have you come home after a long day and went right to the kitchen cupboard whether you're hungry or not? We are not in touch with our feelings of hunger.
Instead of consciously eating, we eat mindlessly which causes us to overeat, even on healthy foods!
This topic does not focus on "healthy" or "unhealthy" food, but simply the state of feeling satisfied or full.
Let me introduce you to the hunger scale.
Let's break it down.
1. Starving - You are weak, grouchy, irritable, you can't concentrate and feel dizzy
2. Uncomfortably Hungry - You have very little energy and can't tolerate anything
3. Very Hungry - The urge to eat is strong, you're ready to eat now
4. A little hungry - Your body is giving you signals that it's starting to get hungry and you're starting to think about food
5. Not Full, but Not that Hungry - Your mind is on other things than food. Your body has enough fuel
6. Satisfied and Light - You could eat more, but you're satisfied
7. Comfortable but slightly too full - You're satisfied but you can still find room for more. Your body is telling you no, but your mind is telling you yes
8. Very Full - You ate more than you needed
9. Too Full - You feel heavy and uncomfortable
10. Beyond Full - "Food coma" You physically don't want to move or look at food again
What does all this mean?
What do you do if you're STARVING before a meal and need to eat SOMETHING to relieve the uneasy feeling? Have a small snack. Something light that still keeps you at a #4 or "a little hungry", so you won't feel too stuffed while you eat your meal.
Obviously, if you're with friends and someone offers you a piece of their snack, you aren't going to pull out your hunger scale and say "hold on one minute, let me just rate my hunger". But allow yourself the time to make a conscious decision. You owe it to yourself, your body and your health to be mindful about what you eat and how much you eat.
Whenever you're hungry or have feelings of hunger, tune into your body. Ask yourself what true hunger level you're at. Maybe you're not even hungry at all. The more you practice this, the more you will know your body. You'll also be able to differ feelings of hunger from feelings of boredom, stress or emotions. This is a skill that will help you throughout lifelong eating!
Try it out and let me know how you do!