Snack attack! Understanding nonhungry eating


We fail because our goals are not sustainable.

We jump into a weight loss journey and think we need to deprive ourselves—cut things out—and that we need to be 100% disciplined, up at 5a.m. every day getting in a run, hitting the weights in the evening after work. If that doesn’t fit into something that seems like fun or that seems like you can maintain for a while, well, don’t do it. Every time you do something unsustainable you set yourself up for failure and a skewed, negative perception of weight loss. Make it fun and make it fit your current lifestyle . We want behavior changes not extreme lifestyle changes, the latter is why people quit so often.

Non-hungry eating is probably the biggest culprit when it comes to food and problems with weight loss. This is eating when we aren’t hungry and includes over eating, grazing, nibbling and bingeing. We want to work on empowering ourselves to develop a long-term, healthy pattern and attitude towards food. Before eating, first permit, then ask yourself, “I can have it if I want it, but do I really feel like it?” This way you are not depriving yourself or restricting food, which bring about the negative connection to it, but rather brings a mindfulness to the act of eating. If you do really want it, eat away, but always make sure you ask yourself this question.

This awareness to non-hungry eating will start to allow you to understand if you are truly hungry or not, to discern the difference between boredom (and sometimes dehydration) and true hunger. The fact that you aren’t trying to deprive you of anything should help as well. Once the idea of “I can’t eat something,” comes about, we tend to immediately crave it, though we try your hardest to avoid it to be “good.” This ideology will eventually result in over-eating or binge eating. Remember, just give yourself permission and ask yourself the question above. If the answer is, “Yes, I feel hungry and want it,” then eat it.

The next step is understand whether or not the food satisfies you or not. A lot of times, with ultra-palatable foods like chocolate, we eat them fast and in high volumes before our body truly has a chance to feel full. On top of that, we don’t actually enjoy the food we are eating and thus tend to keep craving it. Much like bringing awareness to our hunger, we also need to bring awareness to our satisfaction. We need to learn to enjoy our food, so eat slowly, chew your food (you’d be surprised at how little people can do this and how much of a difference it makes to be mindful of it) and savor it. After each bite, take the time to think how you enjoyed it and what about it you enjoyed. This will do two things that are important to stop non-hungry eating: 1. It will slow you down and it will bring awareness to your satiety and satisfaction. 2. It forces a level of self-regulation. If you eat and ask yourself, “Am I satisfied after this bite of food now that I have thoroughly enjoyed and taken my time with it?” If the answer is yes, put it down and be done, if the answer is no than take another bite and do the process again.

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