It’s nowhere near dinnertime and you’re starving. But are you really starving?
If you’re like most people, the answer is probably “no”. That’s because more often than not, we eat for reasons beside hunger. (Just think about the last time you were positively stuffed, and still managed to find room for dessert.)
Topping off a full tummy every now and then won’t derail your diet. However, if you regularly eat when you’re not hungry, you could end up eating way more calories than you need. Because the key to dropping pounds is to burn more calories than you eat, frequent overeating can seriously thwart your weight loss efforts.
Luckily, there’s a pretty easy solution: eat only when you’re hungry. It sounds simple—and it should be—except that true hunger pangs can be surprisingly difficult to discern. To help separate your feelings (“I think I’m hungry”) from the facts (“My stomach is nearly empty, and I need to eat more food for fuel”) ask yourself these three questions before you take your next bite:
Question 1: “Am I thirsty?”
“People often confuse thirst and hunger,” says registered dietitian Robyn Flipse. It’s no wonder: both sensations are controlled by the same part of your brain. If alleged hunger strikes two or three hours after you last wet your palate, she says, fill a cup with 8 ounces of water or another calorie-free beverage such as tea or coffee before you fill your plate with food. Then, wait 15 minutes to see whether the “hunger” pangs subside. (In many cases, they will: according to Flipse, fluids take up space in the stomach to help you feel full.) To further prevent thirst disguised as hunger, use this hydration calculator http://www.beverageinstitute.org/en_US/pages/tools-hydration-calculator.html to estimate your daily fluid needs. And make sure you fulfill those needs!
Question 2: “Am I tired?”
If the answer is yes (or your drooping eyelids give you away) you might be confusing hunger for fatigue. It’s true that eating too little can make you feel tired, and lead you to reach for a snack to refuel. However, sleeping too little can send you racing toward the closest drive thru window—even if you’ve eaten enough that day. That’s because sleep deprivation causes levels of the appetite-regulating hormone leptin to fall, which stimulates your appetite and leads you to eat more. In fact, when researchers monitored the food intake and sleeping habits of 17 men and women for eight nights, they found that the people who slept less consumed an average of 549 more calories each day, according to a study presented at the American Heart Association’s Epidemiology and Prevention/Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism 2012 Scientific Sessions. If you find yourself creeping towards the kitchen after a night of tossing and turning, consider rerouting toward the bedroom for a nap.
Question 3: “Am I stressed?”
A looming deadline, large credit card bill, or fight with a friend can suck the appetite right out of some people. However, stress can cause others to beeline to the bottom of a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. According to two studies published in the journal Physiology and Behavior, dieters comprise 71 percent of people who eat more in response to stress. Moreover, stress-eaters typically overindulge in high-calorie foods they would normally avoid, like full-fat ice cream or chips. If you’re jonesing for a cookie (or 10) after an anxiety-inducing day, think twice before you crack open that cookie jar. Take ten deep breaths, a walk, or five minutes to vent to a friend. Still “starving”? If you’ve eaten recently, reach for a guilt-free, crunchy snack like bright red peppers slices, baby carrots, or celery sticks. And if you’re really hungry? De-stress at the chopping block while you prepare a healthful meal.
Author: Editors Of Fit Journey