Know your comfort zone
Imagine you’re at the petrol station about to fill your car for a long day of driving. You probably wouldn’t want to fill the tank to only an eighth of its capacity, but you wouldn’t keep pumping until the tank is overflowing either. To get your car to perform at its best, you’re most likely going to put in an amount that’s ‘just right’.
The same theory applies to your body and its fuel. Like a car, your body functions best when it has enough food to feel ‘just right’ – not too full, and not running on empty. But recognising your food ‘comfort zone’ can be tricky, especially if you’re used to eating too much or too little. So how do you learn to gauge your hunger accurately? First up is remembering that it can take around 20 minutes after eating for your body to recognise that it’s full. Twenty minutes is a long time; you could have plated up and eaten second serves before your body realised it was actually full from the first round.
Are you listening?
This kind of listening involves your body rather than your ears. Listening to your body’s signals is a great way to stay one step ahead of hunger and temptation. When you’re able to stop and recognise whether you’re experiencing true hunger or perhaps eating for comfort or simply out of habit, you’re more likely to take control and make the right decisions about when and what to eat, and when to stop.
Learn the hunger scale
Ask yourself how hungry you are, on a scale of zero to five – zero meaning starved and five meaning stuffed. When you know the physical indicators of your comfort zone, it’s important to listen to your body before, during and after each meal. At three on the scale, where you should be feeling comfortable, you’re more likely to make smart, healthy food choices. If you wait until you’re ravenous and hit zero on the scale, your urge to satisfy your hunger can drive you to eat the first thing you see, whether that’s a sandwich, a biscuit, chips or a piece of cake. Learn to eat when you’re hungry but not starved, and it will be much easier to stop eating when you feel satisfied. Just be aware of how being around highly palatable food affects your appetite and make the effort to manage your triggers. Equipped with the right know-how, eating until you feel ‘just right’ can be easy, and seeing the results in your weight-loss efforts can be a great reward.
Don’t be scared of driving with the fuel light on
When your fuel light comes on in your car do you panic and look for a petrol station straight away? Probably not – you know you have a fair few kilometres to go before the engine will run out of fuel and stop working. Do the same with your body.
• Don’t be scared of hunger and think you have to squash it as soon as the feeling arises.
• Drive with your hunger fuel light on for a while before filling the tank. Not only will it help you become more familiar with what hunger feels like, your food will taste even better when you do eat.
• Just don’t let yourself get ravenous, which could set you up for overeating. Aim for a two on the hunger scale.