Hunger and Eating to Enough

Feb 19, 2024

   Last week’s post was about the importance of making a plan - rather than responding to urges or cravings.  Making a plan you can easily follow is important to help you lose weight permanently.  

     Another crucial step to losing and maintaining your weight loss is becoming familiar with and responding to your hunger and “enough” signals.  When you pay attention to your body, you’re more aware of whether you want food because you’re hungry - or for other reasons.  A later post will discuss handling urges when you aren’t hungry.  For now, it’s essential to learn to recognize when you’re hungry and to eat in response to hunger most of the time.  

     You may often eat "so that you won't become hungry." Hunger is not an emergency, and occasionally allowing yourself to feel hunger will help you to become comfortable with that feeling.

     When I’m hungry, I feel a gnawing sensation in my stomach and sometimes feel light-headed or irritable. Your hunger signals may be the same as mine or include your stomach growling or feeling empty, a mild headache - or something else.  No matter what they are, before you eat, ask yourself, “Am I hungry?”  I recommend eating when you’re mildly hungry - not waiting until you’re starving! The more often you eat in response to hunger and not in response to other cues - such as food being in front of you or others eating - the easier it will be to lose or maintain your weight.

     “Enough” signals tell you you’ve eaten as much as your body needs.  You should feel satisfied after eating - but not stuffed or uncomfortable.  You should also feel light and energetic, able to take a walk around the block and be able to go for at least 3 hours before needing to eat again.  If you eat very quickly, those “enough” signals may not have a chance to let you know to stop eating.  It takes 20 to 30 minutes for your body to register “enough” cues. By eating more slowly, you can pay attention to your body and its signals.  You’ll also be able to savor and enjoy your food and probably be satisfied with eating less.

     When you eat to “enough”, you may be surprised at how much less food you need to eat to feel satisfied.  In the United States, we’re frequently served larger portions than our bodies need. When we become used to eating those larger portions, excess food becomes excess weight.  One way to learn to eat to enough is to eat half of a typical serving and then wait 10 minutes.  If you’re still hungry after 10 minutes, eat half of what’s left.  Wait another 5 or 10 minutes, check in with your body, and ask yourself if you’re still hungry.  If you are hungry, finish your portion.  If you’re not hungry, save or throw away the extra food.

      If you try this “half-time” method several times a week, you’ll likely lose weight while learning to eat less food while still eating the foods you love.  

     Spend the next week or two paying attention to your hunger and “enough” signals.  If you’d like personalized help with losing weight, set up a free, no-pressure, and no-obligation call with me at:

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