All of us do it, and sometimes we don’t even realize that we are doing it. There are so many reasons why we eat even when we are not hungry. You eat when you’re bored, reach for a candy or a chip because someone offered it, or maybe you’re having a sluggish afternoon and you want a pick-me-up. We can come up with a lot of opportunities to eat when we are not hungry. Although it is okay from time to time, regularly eating without thinking is not good for your weight or your health in the long run.
There are simple steps that can help you stop eating other than when your body needs nourishment. Your hunger can act as your fuel gauge, an instrument to tell you if you really need to eat or not.
Being aware of your hunger needs
The first step to controlling unnecessary eating is awareness. Learn to pause between wanting to eat and actually eating. This pause will help you know if you’re really hungry, tired, bored, or just stressed. Although many nutritionists say that it’s better to eat every two or three hours, it’s mostly better to eat when you feel hungry. But, if you’re the type to be busy and forget to eat until you’re starving, eating in intervals may be the best option for you. Letting your body become famished is dangerous and later can make you overeat without realizing it.
Scanning your Body, Mind and Heart
You can look at these three different areas to know if you need to eat or if you just want to eat. To scan your body, you must clearly focus from your head to toe and understand the sensations in your body. Any tension in your neck or shoulders can indicate anxiety or stress and not hunger. When scanning your mind, if you find your productivity decreasing or you’re wondering about what’s in the pantry or what you’ll eat for dinner, you’re probably just bored rather than hungry. Scanning your heart is scanning your emotions. Any anxiety you may have can provoke you to think you are hungry. Even if you eat, you won’t feel satisfied because the anxiety is still present and you will only end up eating more.
Checking for Physical Cues of Hunger
When checking for hunger cues, place your fist over your stomach, right below your rib cage and check for real signs. Physical cues such as growling, pangs or emptiness are great indicators of hunger. If the area feels stretched or full, then you’re not truly hungry.
These are three simple steps to help you contain your eating habits and stay healthy. When we allow our minds to be preoccupied, we lose the ability to consciously control our behavior and go into a preprogrammed mode. Once we decide to take control over from our habit system, we make healthier choices. Above all, believe in yourself and your ability to handle everything without turning to food.