Many of us eat for comfort when we are stressed or tired, and can lose track of how physical hunger and fullness feels. We are simply not aware of when our body is telling us to start eating and when we should stop. This is not surprising as we are constantly surrounded by easily available food, at the gas station, from vending machines, or from fast food drive-throughs.
How and when we eat is as important as what we eat.
We no longer ask ourselves ‘am I hungry?’ or ‘am I full? Instead, we reach for easily available food whenever we have the urge. So firstly, we must recognise, when we are physically hungry, not just when we have the urge to eat.
We can relearn to listen to our bodies and their natural cues. I say ‘relearn’ as we are born with an awareness of these cues. You can’t force a baby or toddler to eat when they are not hungry. To break the habit of eating mindlessly, we need to pay attention whenever we have the urge to eat.
We can use the Hunger Scale to measure our true hunger and judge when it is time to eat. For most people, a good time to eat is when they are at 3 or below, and a good time to stop is when they reach a 6.
The scale can be used to see when we eat when we are not hungry. It’s important that we try not to judge ourselves. Eating is an emotional as well as a physcial thing. Instead, we can reflect and ask ourselves ‘why did I eat that whole bar of chocolate when I wasn’t hungry?’. It may be because I feel I’m stressed after a hard day at work. We can then reflect on what we can do instead of eating at that time…