Yeah! You’ve seen this ad before and it is absolutely fitting for what I’m talking about today.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but it has been said that we often eat with our eyes first. Unfortunately, our stomachs are not big enough to handle all the greatness that we are shoving into it, but when we see a sweet, creamy, chocolate hottie sitting on a beautiful platter in a bakery or a juicy burger just waiting to be ordered off of a drive-thru menu, we sometimes can lose control . I typically follow the philosophy that “anything is calorie and fat-free until you eat it.” This basically means that we should be more selective and smart about the calories and fats that we choose to consume, but honestly, raise your hands if you’re one of the many people out there who often skips breakfast and could probably eat your right arm by lunchtime. Could it be possible that you are someone who only believes in eating one meal a day? I am not here to tell you what is right or wrong, but what I do know is that your body, that intelligent, beautiful machine, has the ability to tell you what it needs and wants at all times, but you have to be willing to listen. Are you listening?
Now there are many books and blogs out there with loads of information about what and how much you are allowed to eat on certain diet plans, but what if you want more grilled chicken or salad or what if you want less and are not in the mood to eat 6 mini-meals a day? I believe this is your body’s way of saying it is missing something or has too much. In the weight-loss world, we call this ‘intuitive eating.’ If you are forcing yourself to eat every bite of food on your plate although you can barely breathe and you have to unbutton your pants in order to do so (we are all guilty of this), then I think it’s safe to say that you are beyond full and probably should have stopped yourself a loooooong time ago. That way of eating is more of a Level 10 of fullness based on a typical Hunger Scale of 1-10. I find Bob Greene’s, author of The Best Life Diet, hunger scale to be very simple and helpful. I found the following scale from Oprah’s website: http://www.oprah.com/health/The-Best-Life-Diet-The-Hunger-Scale
First, decide how you’re feeling:
10: Stuffed. You are so full you feel nauseous.
9: Very uncomfortably full. You need to loosen your clothes.
8: Uncomfortably full. You feel bloated.
7: Full. A little bit uncomfortable.
6: Perfectly comfortable. You feel satisfied.
5: Comfortable. You’re more or less satisfied, but could eat a little more.
4: Slightly uncomfortable. You’re just beginning to feel signs of hunger.
3: Uncomfortably hungry. Your stomach is rumbling.
2: Very uncomfortable. You feel irritable and unable to concentrate.
1: Weak and light-headed. Your stomach acid is churning.
You should eat only when you’re feeling 1, 2, 3 or 4.
Put your fork down at 5 or 6 and wait until the next scheduled meal or snack.
If you’re trying to lose weight, stop at 5, the point at which you’re eating a little less than your body is burning.
My personal take on eating naturally and making healthier decisions incorporates this scale and common sense. Now that I’m back on a regular eating schedule of eating every 3-4 hours and sticking to small 300-400 calorie meals, I try to plan what I would like to eat even if I choose something different later on because the idea is that I will not let my imagination run wild. I am trying to avoid the Hungry Eyes Effect when I am not at home and in my comfort zone. But more importantly, there are times when eating a small meal at once is too much and I tell myself to stop. It’s okay because I can finish it later if I want it. It’s okaaaaaaay! If I want extra, I eat more veggies instead or drink water. If that does not help, I have to ask myself what is really going on. Maybe I did not sleep well or it could be stress and the hunger pain is really another way my body is telling me to just chill and take a nap. Common sense tells me that if I just ate a meal 15 minutes ago, I’m probably not hungry. Listen to your body, relax your mind, and learn something new about yourself. I bet you never thought you would have the strength to put down that fork for a second did you? You’re a lot stronger than you know. Just try it! Oh, yeah! Enjoy your food people, it’s pretty darn good!