1. Listen to Your Body’s Signals: Did you grow up the way I did, where you were instructed to finish your dinner before you left the table? Somewhere along the way we may have been so busy listening to instructions that we forgot how to listen to the signals our body sends telling us when it’s hungry or full. Our body knows what it needs. It's up to us to get our signals straight and it may be that we need a little retraining.
Try This: The next time you sit down to dinner give yourself the portion size you normally would. Before you begin eating, cut that portion in half and eat only half. If you’re out to dinner you can do the same thing. After you finish that half, stop eating for about 10-15 minutes and focus on something else- conversation with those around you, a good book if you’re alone, something that will distract you and give your brain time to get the proper signals from your stomach. Once the 10-15 minutes has passed, reevaluate if you’re still hungry. If you are, cut the rest of your meal in half again and follow that same pattern. If you end up eating your entire meal, chances are you really were hungry and that's okay. The difference is that you're not eating an entire meal because it’s ingrained in you to do so, or mindlessly eating because it’s in front of you. On the other hand, if 10-15 minutes passes and you discover that you’re full, you can store the other half of your meal for another time. If you’re out to dinner you can have them put it in a to go box and ask that they keep it refrigerated until you’re ready to leave. It’s best to do that sooner rather than later so you’re not tempted to pick at it or keep eating as you get lost in conversation. The goal is to eat mindfully, with conscious thought and awareness. In doing so we slow down, savor our food, and listen to our bodies' signals to avoid overeating.
2. Don’t Get Too Hungry: Remember the last time you were “starving?” Maybe you had a long day at work and you were too busy to eat. Maybe you were saving up for a big meal (bad idea). It could be any number of reasons, but my guess is that when you were finally able to eat again you just wanted something quick and easy. Unfortunately, that usually translates to something high in fat, full of sugar, and low in nutritional value. We plan what we’re going to wear to work or a special event, we plan our vacations, parties, and dates, but when it comes to food we sometimes forget that our diet, one of the most significant contributors to our health and well-being, also requires planning. Eating well requires time, commitment, and effort. Not only to plan our meals, but healthy snacks as well.
Try This: Keep healthy snacks in your handbag, vehicle, desk at work, and anywhere else that’s accessible so you can avoid getting too hungry. Healthy snacks might include almonds, carrots, a piece of fruit, or a nutrition bar. You can make these yourself, or buy healthy snack size servings. The problem with getting too hungry is that when we do eat, we often indulge rather than enjoy. In other words, we eat too quickly. According to most research, it takes about twenty minutes for our brain to get the message from our stomach that we’re full. If we eat quickly our brain never gets the message until it’s too late. We eat until we feel full, and that generally means we’ve eaten too much. The goal is to eat smaller, healthier snacks in between meals, so we can avoid feeling so hungry that we sacrifice quality for whatever is quick. That way we make sure that our calories contribute to our overall healthy and well being.
Cheers to a Happy Monday and Healthy Eating!
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