Are You Really Hungry? Answer These 4 Questions

One of the most important and often overlooked foundations of a healthy lifestyle is the ability to self-regulate your food intake. That is, to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full. Today I’m going to talk to you about relearning your body’s hunger signals.

You see, every time you go on a diet, you’re trusting someone else to tell you what to eat, how much to eat, and when to eat. That strips away your ability to listen to your body’s signals, and also teaches you that you can’t be relied upon to figure out when your body actually needs food.

Don’t blame yourself: the world around you has been sending you all sorts of messages that basically teach you to never, ever eat based on hunger.

Is it somebody’s birthday in the office? It doesn’t matter that you had a late lunch and don’t really need or want any more food, it would be rude not to eat!

Did you take a long walk after your early dinner, and feel a rumbling in your stomach? Too bad your diet plan says you can’t eat after 7 pm!

See what I mean? The world is full of ways that totally mess with your body’s ability to self-regulate, and it’s time to relearn the amazing, innate skill that all of us are born with all of us still have, if we just take the time to pay attention. Once you relearn your hunger signals, you’ll find that knowing whether or not it’s time to eat is pretty straightforward.

Here are four questions to ask in order to begin to reacquaint yourself with your body’s special way of letting you know it needs some food. Once you start to understand what your body is telling you about your hunger, try eating based on what your body is really asking for, rather than what is outlined in a diet or expected by others.

Pick a time when you know you are truly biologically hungry and answer these questions (First thing in the morning when you’re “breaking the fast” is often a good time.)

  1. When I’m truly hungry, how does my body tell me? (Examples include: I get lightheaded, my stomach growls, I feel empty, I feel nauseated, etc.)
  2. When I’m truly hungry, how do I know for sure? (Examples include: I get very grumpy, I feel a sense of urgency, I get cranky. The purpose of this question is to help you figure out when you’re truly hungry vs. feeling emotional hunger, which is when you want to nosh on something because you’re bored or tired.)
  3. When I’m truly hungry, what types of foods sound most delicious? (Examples include: steak and mashed potatoes, fruit salad, Yogurt and berries, etc. Anything goes here, but notice that when you’re truly hungry you may feel more inclined to eat whole, healthier foods, as opposed to when you’re just bored, when you may be more inclined to reach for a candy bar or bag of chips.)
  4. (This is a miscellaneous question designed to help you think about what you’re like when you’re hungry. Do you feel good about eating when you’re hungry? Does food taste better when you’re hungry? Do you snap your husband’s head off for asking you a simple question? It all goes here)When I’m truly hungry, I:

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