I am the girl the waiter makes sarcastic remarks to like, “wow you really hated it, huh,” as he picks up my empty plate. I’m the girl that will order a “healthy salad” and then become a human garbage disposal for any meal left unfinished at the table.
My own ITALIAN grandmother has told me I should really stop eating or I’ll feel ill (couldn't make this up).
What can I say. Your girl can eat.
But, even GRANDMA? The woman that gets teary eyed every time I turn down food, even after we just got finished with a 4-course meal?
That is when I knew I had to reevaluate this emotion I was confusing for hunger. Was I really hungry still? Maybe I just wasn't satisfied with the foods I was eating? Orrr maybe, too satisfied?
I can’t be bored, there are 15 people at the dinner table yelling over each other competing for a spot in 3 different conversations.
Hmm...stress eating? Possible.
There are so many different explanations as to why you may over-eat even though you’re not truly, physically hungry. If you are working toward a goal and feel this problem is setting you back, don’t worry. This can be solved in two simple steps.
how to know if you're really hungry
Step One: Reflect
The number one way to fix this is to reflect on your feelings first! Think about what you are feeling.
Symptoms of physical hunger come on gradual and are a feeling of emptiness in your stomach, stomach grumbling, lightheaded/headache, irritability, or lack of concentration.
Different emotions may trigger the want for food. You may think you are hungry when in reality you could just be bored, excited, sad, stressed, tired, habit eating, social eating, "sense" eating...the list goes on!
Once you have recognized your symptoms, think about when and what you ate last. Was it well-balanced, enough food, did it “hit the spot”? Most importantly, did you hydrate?!
If you didn't feel hungry until you passed that mouth watering meat lovers pie while shopping in the mall, now would be the perfect time to reflect!
Step 2: Deflect
Take a break. Go for a walk, drink water or black coffee/tea, do some laundry, read my blog-what ever you can do to give your mind time to realize what it needs or your body the time to interpret satiety [meaning a state of feeling satisfied or full].
Once you have figured out you are like the rest of us, a victim of psychological hunger, you’ll need to know how you can prevent this deceiving emotion.
how to prevent emotional Eating
DRINK water or calorie-free drinks (coffee/tea)- a glass before meals and frequently through out your day.
A lot of times our bodies confuse the feeling of thirst for hunger!
TRACK your meals! Make sure each meal is well balanced. Incorporate appropriate ratio of lean proteins, complex carbs, and healthy fats in each meal.
Download the app MyFitnessPal to help you track your meals!
• Healthy protein choices include fish, poultry, eggs, nuts, legumes, beans, tofu, and non-fatdairy products. These will aid in slowing digestion and keeping you feeling full longer.
• Good carb choices are those that are whole, unrefined, and high in fiber. Whole wheat, oatmeal, quinoa, chia seeds, certain fruits and veggies are all good choices. Whole and unrefined carbs are more easily digested and prevent insulin spikes like other options, and fiber is great for trafficking water into the intestine, stretching your stomach to feel full faster.
• Healthy fat sources include avocados, nuts, flaxseed, salmon, almond butter, and egg yolks. Adding healthy fats to your meals will help you to feel full longer because, like protein, they take longer to digest and will stay in your stomach longer.
TIME your meals! Make a meal plan and follow it the best you can.
By planning and creating a schedule for eating, you are more likely to recognize real hunger vs. other emotions.
SLOW down! Enjoy your meal. Cut and chew each bite.
Take your time, your body needs it as it takes a lot of work to digest your food and send signals to your brain, stomach, hormones, etc!
DISTRACT/DESTRESS/SLEEP- Do a workout, make a to-do list, accomplish a task, drink plenty of water, brush your teeth after dinner, shut off all electronics and lights with a scheduled bed time, use white noise to sleep.
Adequate sleep (7-9 hours) is necessary, as it plays a major role in your metabolism and brain function, which also helps you make better choices and not opt for high carb/sugary/greasy foods.
Being able to decipher between physical and emotional hunger is a great start to breaking the habit of psychological eating.
By following a well-balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy lifestyle that limits stress and optimizes sleep-you will be able to overcome this!
Try out this thought process and go through the 2 steps next time you feel hungry at an off time, you'll probably be surprised!