“I can’t believe I ate the whole thing!” Have you ever slivered a pie to death?
Many of us eat at times when hunger is not the primary driver. Yet, food has come to serve many functions, in addition to meeting that most basic need state: signaling the requirement of fueling the furnace. Depending on the rate at which we burn food energy, actual hunger occurs on a fairly predictable schedule and has some easy identifiers that signal us. The longer we prolong refueling, the more we ignore the message and the more insistent the signals become. Eating too little, starving ourselves, going too long between meals and skipping meals entirely can definitely mess with our metabolism, diminishing the rate of burn in some cases.
Ideally, a good meal ought to begin with the hunger stimuli being the primary reason to partake. As Dr. Michelle May says in her book on this topic, ask yourself, “Am I hungry?” In his research on the mindless side of the eating equation, Brian Wansink pointed out that in any day, the average person makes about 200 food decisions. Many of these are triggered by signals other than hunger. These may well come from emotional needs, media like commercials, proximity and availability of foods, the behaviors of others and other triggers. While I may have been hungry, it may not have been for nutritious food.
Let’s grab our notebooks and jot down some personal preferences to steer us toward safer feeding grounds. In each area, jot down things to heighten your awareness to guide you toward mindful eating:
- Respect what you know and use that wisdom to consciously decide if eating is the answer you are seeking. Jot down how you are feeling and how the food is helping you deal with the issue.
- Choose foods that delight your taste buds while nourishing to your body. Use all your senses to explore, savor and taste.
- Acknowledge responses to food likes and dislikes without judgment. Pick the best and leave the rest. You do not have to eat bad food.
- Learn to be aware of physical hunger and satiety cues to guide your decision to begin eating and to stop eating. You do not have to be a member of the “all gone or no dessert” club.
- What are your strongest triggers to eat that have nothing to do with food? What needs is the food meeting in each instance?
- Eliminate distraction. Sit down, slow down, make the food last and appreciate every bite. Eating is supposed to be a pleasurable activity.
I Care, Barb