How to know when you’re hungry and avoid overeating.
With the holidays just around the corner, many of us have already started planning elaborate meals and baking delicious treats for our friends and family. But, for those trying to lose a few pounds, this time of year can pose a real challenge. I mean, who can resist all that yummy, coma-inducing food? It’s pretty darn hard, BUT, if you follow these simple guidelines to help you figure out if you’re eating because you’re truly hungry, or just because the food is there, you can save yourself thousands of calories.
Ok, I’m going to really break this down for you because even with consistent use of SENSA, many of us do not know when we are truly hungry, so I’m going to give you a scenario and a suggested solution for each level of hunger. If you follow these suggestions and sprinkle SENSA, you might even lose a pound or two over the holidays! (It’s totally possible)
Level 1: Cravings
You just ate breakfast, but you can’t stop thinking about those tasty cookies you baked the other day. The cookie is invading your thoughts and the more you tell yourself no, the more you want it.
- Hunger Tip: If you’re thinking about eating something specific, then you’re probably not actually hungry. When you pass up an apple for the cookie, you’re simply having a craving, because when you’re actually hungry, you will eat whatever is in front of you. These cravings are usually the result of stress, boredom, an emotional response, and even thirst, not hunger. Ask yourself, “Am I really hungry right now?” Once you realize you aren’t actually hungry; wait out your craving, which should pass within 15 minutes or so. In the meantime, keep telling yourself that succumbing is not worth it. Remember, every time you resist emotional eating, you are building up will-power and confidence in yourself. We all know how we feel when we give in…guilty, like we failed ourselves. Another neat trick from SENSA Founder Dr. Alan Hirsch, MD, is to trick your brain into thinking it’s getting what it wants with a sweet or savory-scented candle. Since about 90% of taste is actually smell, if you continually smell something that smells like chocolate or another food, your brain interprets it as taste….cool right?
Level 2: Hungry
So, you resisted the urge to snack, but now its lunch time and you feel like you HAVE to eat. Everyone has different hunger signals, but many times, it comes in the form of headaches, low-energy, or Hanger (Hungry + Anger).
- Hunger Tip: Time to load up on energizing food that will also keep you feeling satisfied for a few hours. Fresh veggies and lean proteins, with a small serving of low-glycemic carbs will do the trick. Fill up on the veggies, which are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients that help your body run efficiently, which gives you energy for the rest of your day. If you’re still feeling hungry, wait 20 minutes before eating more, as it usually takes that long for your body to recognize it’s full. If you are still hungry, instead of going back for a plate of food, grab a handful of pistachios in the shell. A 2011 study published in Appetite found that people consumed fewer calories (86 to be exact) and were more satiated when they had to remove pistachios from their shells. Keep a pile of those shells as you snack as a visual reminder to how much you’re eating. Mandarin oranges are also a great sweet snack that’s about 50 calories, easy to peel, and loaded with stress-fighting Vitamin C.
Level 3: Ravenous
You skipped lunch so you can finish running errands and prepping for your elaborate family meal, but now, you feel you could eat somebody’s arm, you’re so hungry. Your attitude is bad, you have a headache, and you can’t concentrate.
- Hunger Tip: This is a crucial time when your energy is too low to hunt down healthy food and you’re looking for a quick fix that’s probably loaded with sugar or caffeine. But, just because this is your natural response, it doesn’t mean you have to give into it. When you realize you’re on a dangerous path leading to an over consumption of fat and sugar, take a moment and center yourself. Stop what you’re doing, take a deep breath, and think about the immediate consequences of gorging on a box of cookies or eating a whole bag of chips, like stomach ache or guilty feelings. Then, find yourself something on the somewhat healthy side to eat. This way, you’re not running on autopilot, you are consciously and actively making healthy decisions, which make you feel empowered, boosts confidence, and help you reach your long-term goals.
Level 4: Satisfied
This is what you’re aiming for…satisfaction. I know figuring out when you’re satisfied isn’t easy, but with practice, you will become more mindful of the fact that you’re NOT thinking about or wanting food.
- Hunger Tip: According to Dr. Hirsch, “Hot food has a greater odor and therefore better flavor”. It also helps you to eat slower which will help you better realize when you’re full. It’s not necessary to finish your plate to feel satisfied either. Many people think that the last bite will be the best. Well, here’s another Dr. Hirsch random fact for you. “So much of the sensory experience of the food is in that first bite. Your sense of smell drops down with each subsequent bite. If you’re eating a steak and someone swaps it out for horse meat halfway through, you might not notice the difference.” After 20 minutes or when you start to feel satisfied, put your fork down, and stop thinking about your meal. You’ll be surprised at how much less you start to eat.
Level 5: Stuffed
You have to loosen your belt or unbuckle your pants and you feel like you want to fall into a turkey induced sleep…YOU. ARE. STUFFED! Put the fork down and follow these next steps…
- Hunger Tip: This is when you know you have overeaten. Stay awake and upright. Going to sleep right after a heavy meal slows digestion so sit up, stand up, or go for a walk to help your body flush out your meal. Rubbing your belly gently in clockwise circles relaxes your abdomen and aids in digestion too. Just remember, you have full control over food, not the other way around. You can resist overeating if you truly want to. During the holidays, instead of putting every single piece of food that’s being served on your dinner plate, use a salad plate and load it full of veggies and lean meat, but only a little of the usually starchy, fatty sides.
I hope these guidelines help you get control over your eating. It’s easy to gain one or two pounds over the holidays but it’s much harder to take those pounds off. With practice and will-power, you will figure out a healthy way to fight your urges. And SENSA makes it so much easier! Make sure you sprinkle SENSA on every meal and snack to help you overcome the urge to overeat even more. I know you can do it! Good luck!