Getting to know your hunger levels will change your relationship with food, and put you back in control. You being in control of food instead food controlling you will allow you to enjoy food again, avoid extreme diets, lose some weight and start living a healthy lifestyle.
What do I mean when I say hunger levels? There are varying degrees of hunger, which are best understood when placed on a scale of 1 – 10: 1 being ravenous, 5 being satiated and 10 being stuffed.
You never want to let yourself get to 1 or 10. 1 means you’re starving and more likely to a. grab something quick & unhealthy or b. overeat. 10 means you’ve eaten to much, too fast. 5 is a great place to be after a meal, but how do you get there?
Eat slowwwwwwllllyyyy. It should take you at least 20 minutes to finish your meal. This is the amount of time it takes for food to reach your stomach. This will give your body enough time to feel satiated from eating. When you feel satisfied, or at a 5, put your cutlery down, pack up your leftovers in the fridge and walk away. If you eat your meal in less than 20 minutes, chances are you’ve overeaten, and you’re probably sitting at a 9 or 10.
Tips to Slow Things Down
Put your cutlery down between bites, eat with your non-dominant hand, talk about the food between bites: taste, texture, smell and serve out a proper portion (if you have less food on your plate you’re more likely to eat slowly to savour every bite). All of these things are healthy habits to adopt that will help you slow down. Eating slowly will not only force you to pay attention to your hunger levels, but will help you lose weight (you will most likely save 200-300 calories at every meal) and is so important for healthy digestion. Saliva contains important digestive enzymes that start to break down food before it goes into your stomach. Food that is properly chewed allows your body to absorb more nutrients from the food as well.
What Are You Hungry For?
Often times paying attention to what we’re hungry for is a good indicator of true hunger. For most people breakfast is the healthiest meal because we’re actually hungry. If it’s 2:00pm, you’ve had a satisfying lunch, and you’re reaching for chips, carbs or something sweet, chances are you’re sitting at a 6-8 range on the scale, and you’re not really hungry. You’re most likely eating out of boredom, maybe you’re tired or emotionally upset. If you’re interested in a healthy choice like fruit or raw vegetables, you’re probably a 3 or 4 on the hunger scale and ready for a healthy snack. If you’re reaching for chicken or a boiled egg and a salad – you’re a 2 and ready for a meal.
Make it your goal this week to start paying attention to your hunger levels. It’s one of the first steps, in an often overlooked area of the health industry, called “Mindful Eating.” It will change your relationship with food for the better, and put you back in control.