When we think of weight loss we think struggle, a battle, restriction, a fight we’ll never win.
What if I told you that the absolute simplest tool to weight loss is something you were literally born with and is 100% in your control and that using this tool will lead to weight loss 100% of the time for most of us despite the fact that you might not make the best nutritional decisions a lot of the time like when you choose a juicy cheeseburger and fries over a salad with chicken?
You’d probably think I was trying to trick you, right? How can you choose cheeseburgers and fries over a salad with chicken and still lose weight? Isn’t weight loss all about eating lean protein, veggies, fruit, whole grains?
The answer? It can be, but it doesn’t have to be.
When weight loss is our goal and we just can’t bear the thought of living without Oreos or pizza what we have to do is simple, really. We have to learn to know when we’re physically hungry and we have to learn when we’re satisfied and ready to stop eating.
If you’ve ever been on a diet as most all of us have been, it’s likely that you’ve been told to go against your natural intuition when it comes to eating. Some diets will tell us to eat when it’s time (eat every 3-4 hours), instead of when we’re hungry. Others will instruct us to hold off on eating even if we’re hungry because it’s too late in the evening and you’ll derail your progress if you eat past 8pm. Others will tell us to fast in the morning and workout on an empty stomach or eat like a king in the morning, a queen in the afternoon and a peasant in the evening.
When we follow other people’s rules about when and how we should eat, we can actually forget what hunger and fullness feel like. When we forget what these innate cues feel like, it is much easier for us to eat when we’re not hungry or eat well past the point of fullness.
It’s time to follow your own rules, or rather, your bodies’ rules.
How do we know when we’re physically hungry?
Do you get anxious or nervous when you feel your tummy rumble? I used to almost panic when I’d feel anything going on in my gut that meant hunger. I was a slave to the ‘eat every three hours’ plan and was afraid to feel hungry because I thought for sure that meant I was going to binge when I finally did get to eat again.
Being hungry is nothing to panic over. It’s simply our body’s way of telling us it’s time for some food. Just like when you feel like you have pee. It’s your bodies’ way of telling you to head to the bathroom soon. No emergency, just get there when you can 😉
If you’ve forgotten what true physical hunger feels like, you should feel a sensation of light gnawing or rumbling in your tummy but not get to the point of being lightheaded or hangry.
Notice how when I talk about hunger I always say physical hunger? That’s because a lot of us who are emotional eaters can’t really tell the difference between what physical hunger and emotional hunger feels like. This could be for any number of reasons but if you’ve been a chronic dieter and have experienced the restrict-binge-restrict cycle, it can be easy to confuse the two.
Let me break it down for you:
|Comes on gradually||Comes on very suddenly|
|You’re aware of what and how much you’re eating||You feel a strong urge to eat immediately|
|Doesn’t come with intense cravings||You crave comfort foods|
|You stop eating when you’re satisfied||You eat well past the point of fullness|
|You don’t feel badly about yourself after eating||You feel a sense of regret, powerlessness and guilt after eating|
So you can see that there’s a big difference between physical and emotional hunger. Keep these cues in mind as you start tapping into your hunger cues if you’re be someone who’s an emotional eater.
Ok, great. But how do I know when I’m “satisfied.”
As much sense as it makes to say “eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied” it’s really freaking hard to know when you’re satisfied. We know when we feel stuffed or when we overeat- think Thanksgiving dinner-, but what does a comfortable fullness feel like?
Here’s the best tip I’ve found and it was in a Girls Gone Strong article which title I can’t remember…oops! But here it is: If you feel like you can do 15 jumping jacks or go for a brisk walk comfortably after eating, you’re satisfied. If you feel like you’d cramp up, get sick or be way too uncomfortable, you ate too much.
Here are a few other ways to reach that point of comfortable fullness and avoid feeling stuffed:
- Slow down. Take breaks during meals and notice how your body is feeling.
- Put your fork down between bites and swallow your last bite before putting another in your mouth.
- Chew your food well and enjoy the food.
- Remind yourself that the food is not going anywhere. You can save it for later or get it wrapped up to go. There’s no need to finish your entire plate in one sitting. We’re on team #anticleanplateclub here at Fueled Physique 😉
Of course it would be ideal if we ate all our lean proteins, veggies, fruits and whole grains but that’s not life and plus, that’s super boring. The strategy of learning your hunger and fullness cues and tuning into what your body is asking for is by far the simplest and best strategy I can give to help you reach your weight loss goals. Yes, it takes some practice and a little trial and error but if you use this strategy you can enjoy foods you love, you’ll learn to trust yourself around your favorite foods, you can eat whatever you want and still reach your weight loss goals.
Respect your body, listen to your body, fuel your body and it will respond 🙂
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