Have you ever noticed infants eating? They know exactly how much to eat and refuse to eat when they are full. Even if you try forcing another bite into them, if they are full, they will either turn away their head or throw it all out. That is because their hunger system work in perfect synchrony with their brain and stomach.
Growing up, many emotional, physical, mental and some social habits mess up our body hunger signals and we reach a point when most of us could eat anytime and in any quantity. Having badly distorted our hunger signals, we just eat when we desire, what we desire and the amount we desire. But what if we had never disturbed those hunger signals and always eaten only how much our stomach needed?
We focus so much on counting carbs, slashing calories, eating low fat that we forget about the more important stuff. Instead of calorie crunching we must pay attention and chew our food well, understand when our body needs food and nourish it with what it needs.
Don’t you think our body is smart enough to show us signs when it needs something and when it doesn’t? Here is how you can stop fretting over the unwanted complications and practice a simple funda: Eat when you are hungry, stop when you are full! – That’s all you need to lose weight naturally
- Eat only when you’re hungry: Eat food when you are 80% hungry. This can be read as eat food when you feel a sense of rumbling in your stomach, fatigue and irritability. You will be baffled when you observe how we end up eating when we are bored, have nothing to do or just give into one of those craving bouts. Observe your body closely and read your hunger signs. Don’t eat just because it’s the mealtime or your designated work break, if your appetite tells you it’s disinterested.
- Know when to stop: Understanding satiety and knowing when to stop is a foolproof way to understand how much you need to eat. When you start eating, your stomach starts coordinating with your brain and sends out signals to it. These signals take 20 minutes to decipher by the brain and attain satiety. Imagine eating a meal and only realizing 20 minutes later that you are full. Practice portion control and take a breath after eating your meal if you do not feel satiated. The signals grow stronger as minutes pass and the feeling of hunger will dissipate. Listen to your body, eat with a calm mind, chew your food well and be mindful.
- Equip yourself with decent food: Make it a point to cook your food or get it cooked well in advance so that you do not lose your mind when hungry. Excessive hunger pangs make us grab the first option that comes to our access – majority of time it being sugar loaded bakery items. You starve yourself during breakfast and lunch and then by evening when the hunger is too severe to bear, you binge on fast-food pizza or sugary processed cookies or salted chips! Now how clever is that?
- Test your hunger: Don’t fear hunger, be curious. We sometimes try to keep it at bay with top-ups and snacks, but instead, allow yourself to go on until you can feel it, and be curious about where in your body and your mind (your attention span, your moods) you can identify it.
- Practice mindful eating to know when you are full: Learn to pay attention instead of gobbling food mindlessly. It is an art of consciously choosing food, enjoying every bite of it, take time to look, taste, feel and smell the food you are eating and stopping when you feel full. Learn more about the art of mindful eating here.
Over the years, we stop listening to that teeny tiny voice coming from the pit of our stomach saying that’s enough, no more food please. We ignore it to a point that we don’t hear it anymore and it takes revenge on us by storing that extra amount in the form of layers of fat all around our body. Be sensible and eat only when you are hungry and stop when you are full!
By Akansha Jhalani Sinha – Registered dietician
Akansha is the Founder and Consultant at Beyond the Weighing Scale. With a wide range of expertise and skills, she is adept to speak about nutrition, health, lifestyle management and physical activity. She is a popular food columnist, a passionate foodie, a health enthusiast, an avid traveler and a happy yogi.