By Michelle May, M.D.
You were born knowing exactly how much to eat. Hunger is your body's way of telling you that you need fuel. By reconnecting with your instinctive signals, you can reach and maintain a healthier weight without restrictive dieting and obsessing over every bite of food you put in your mouth.
Perhaps you've ignored hunger for so long that you've forgotten how to recognize it. Maybe you even blame it for your weight problem so you see hunger as the enemy. Perhaps you confuse hunger with all the other reasons you eat, like mealtime, boredom, stress or tasty food.
At the same time, you may have learned to ignore the feeling of satisfaction so you eat until you are stuffed and uncomfortable. Perhaps you "clean your plate," "never waste food," and "eat all your dinner if you want dessert," instead of stopping when you've had enough. And you'll perpetuate this cycle if you teach your children the same things.
Reconnecting with your hunger signals helps you lose weight. Here's how:
• If you eat food your body didn’t tell you it needed, it has no choice but to store it until later.
• You'll eat less food when you're eating to satisfy physical hunger than if you eat to satisfy other needs. Think about it. If you aren't hungry when you start eating, how do you know when to stop? When the food is gone of course!
• You’re more likely to choose foods that nourish you. If you aren't hungry but you're eating because you are sad, mad or glad, what kinds of foods do you want? That's when I want chocolate, cookies and salty snacks.
• Food actually tastes better when you're truly hungry. Hunger really is the best seasoning so you eat less but enjoy it more.
• You’ll feel more satisfied because food is great for reducing hunger but not so great for reducing boredom, stress or other triggers.
Trust Your Gut Instincts
To break out of the pattern of eating on autopilot, get in the habit of asking yourself, "Am I hungry?" every time you feel like eating. This simple but powerful question will help you recognize the difference between an urge to eat caused by the physical need for food from an urge to eat caused by head hunger.
I know from personal experience that it's not as easy as it sounds. The first step is to recognize that hunger is physical. It's not a craving, a thought or a temptation. By focusing on hunger as your guide, you can become your own internal expert about when, what and how much to eat.
Food for Thought
• What specific signs of hunger do you usually have?
• What other thoughts and feelings do you confuse with hunger at times?
• Do you know what to do when you feel like eating even though you’re not hungry?
Don’t live to eat—love to eat. Use hunger to let you know when food will be most enjoyable and satisfying.
Michelle May, M.D.
P.S. This article is part of our complimentary Am I Hungry?® Mini E-Course. Sign up for all four short lessons at http://www.amihungry.com/mini-e-course-intro.shtml.
MOM WAS RIGHT!
There really are starving children in ______________ (fill in the blank).
She was wrong about the cleaning your plate part though. Still, your little voice repeats this message and hundreds of others every time you think about eating. Until you recognize and change those messages, you’ll stay stuck in your Overeating and Restrictive Eating Cycles.
So I had an idea. Visit our website www.AmIHungry.com and let us help you undo those overeating messages by buying any of our books, DVDs or other tools. Then we’ll make a donation to the Hunger Project. They’ll match all donations received before October 14th, 2007 dollar-for-dollar so please hurry!
The Hunger Project www.thp.org is a worldwide organization empowering local leaders to provide opportunities for a better life to more than 30 million people in places like Bangladesh, Mexico, Africa, Bolivia, Peru and others. Their goal is to enable millions more hungry people build lives of self-reliance and dignity.
My goal is to enable millions of NOT hungry people build lives of self-reliance and nearly effortless weight management.
Buy anything on www.AmIHungry.com before Oct. 14th and you really will help feed the starving children in _____________ (fill in the blank).