How to Eat When You’re Hungry and Stop When You’re Full
If you’ve discovered the secret to flawless self-control, this post isn’t for you. For anyone else, like those who occasionally succumbs to a food binge so enormous it leaves you in a digestion-induced coma-like state, this might be the day you discover how to finally nail a healthy approach to eating.
According to dietician Susie Burrell in an article for SMH Life&Style the reason diet programs so often fail is that they don’t address a very simple concept—your individual ability to say “no” aka self-regulation. Burrell believes this seemingly small factor can make a very big impact when it comes to weight loss... and we agree. (We can't be the only ones who've unwittingly sabotaged our own healthy eating plans with an all-night pizza party.) “If we could all simply eat when we were hungry and stop when we were full, few of us would be overweight,” explains Burrell. The good news: If your self-regulation could use a little work, there are tips and tricks you can use to develop this skill.
Keep reading for Burrell’s top tips on learning how to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full.
This mantra (loosely translated as “to stop eating when you are 80% full”) could be the reason its country of origin—Japan—has one of the lowest rates of obesity worldwide. Burrell’s tip: Actively stop eating a mouthful or two before you know you’ll feel overly full. Even a small step like this will lower your calorie intake over time, as well as training your stomach to expect a little less food.
Consider the following scenario. You feel like a treat. You decide to “be good” and eat something else in an attempt to crush the craving. It doesn’t work—you still feel like the treat. So you cave in and eat it. Now, instead of ingesting say, 346 calories worth of Connoisseur ice-cream, you’ve racked up even more calories by eating around it and then eventually eating it anyway. Burrell advises considering what you really want before you indulge: “Taking time out to really consider what you feel like – cheese or nuts; milk chocolate or dark; ice-cream or a biscuit – is a key skill in becoming attuned to your appetite and self-regulating your intake.”
Sounds simple but it’s not so easy for everyone, particularly when food is so entwined in our culture—when’s the last time you ate gelato because you were actually starving? Of course, treats are just that (and they’re a foodie delight we don’t want to do without), but the rest of the time Burrell suggests rating your hunger on a scale of 10 and not eating until you’re at an 8. (Check your hydration levels too, thirst can be mistaken for hunger.)
Ultimately Burrell believes self-regulation is a skill that can be developed like any other. She suggests attempting the Tim Tam Challenge in which you buy foods you find tempting and will yourself not to scoff the entire packet/bag/tub in one go. Our advice? Tread carefully. Sugar cravings can be a real hurdle to overcome and bingeing is not only bad for your body, it’s bad for your mind. If you don’t trust yourself to attempt this one straight up, start small by serving a portion of your chosen snack in a smaller bowl (and putting the rest away), savouring every bite and actively cultivating a sense of satisfaction. (Check out Eat, Drink and Be Mindful by Susan Albers, $25, for more ways to ensure you have a healthy relationship with food.)
What do you think of Burrell's tips on how to eat when you're hungry and stop when you're full? Sound off below.
Opening image: Half Baked Harvest