It's Time to Eat -- I Must Be Hungry

Table Setting with a Clock in a Plate

For the past twenty minutes, you’ve been glancing at the clock on your computer screen at work repeatedly. In only two more minutes, your one-hour lunch-break will begin. While you enjoyed a hearty breakfast of gluten-free oatmeal and turkey bacon, you can’t wait to chow down on the spaghetti, garlic bread, and green salad you packed for lunch. After all, it’s time to eat. So, you reason that you must be hungry. If you always eat at scheduled times each day without considering if you’re even hungry or not, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, constantly consuming food for reasons besides hunger can expand your waistline. In order lose weight and manage it for life, you need to start distinguishing real hunger from an emotional desire to eat.

When you’re hungry, your brain receives signals from a type of hormones knows as ghrelin. Unfortunately, many people eat from falsely perceived hunger instead of actual hunger. If you’re struggling to control your weight, you might find yourself constantly eating due to habit, boredom, stress, dehydration, or depression instead of authentic hunger. If you’re an emotional eater, a smell, sight, or social setting might often guide your decisions to eat more than a growling stomach. For instance, the mere smell of a hot, pepperoni pizza might make you instantly feel ravenous. To ascertain whether your feelings of hunger are legitimate, ask yourself a few questions before consuming food including:

  • How many hours ago was my last meal or snack?
  • If I drink a glass of water, can I wait for 30 more minutes to eat something?
  • Will a small, nutritious snack, such as an apple, satisfy me until my next meal?

Whenever you decide to eat, savor each bite of food. Eating slowly will give the nerves in your stomach ample time to send signals of fullness to your brain. This process can take up to 20 minutes to complete. So, if you always eat in a rush, you might not ever realize when you’re full. Recognizing the difference between real hunger and emotional hunger is a significant discovery on the journey to weight loss success and better health.


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