Listening to your body’s signals is a good long term strategy for weight management. However, if you are just starting out and find it challenging to “eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full”, here are a few ways to help you recognize when you have eaten enough:
1. Recognize and experience the feeling of hunger. Practice experiencing true hunger by avoiding eating for at least 4 hours. The goal is to feel and understand the sensation of hunger.
2. Create a routine. Eating a similar breakfast everyday and eating at regular hours your lunch and supper can help your hunger signals get into a routine. The goal is to feel hungry (not starving) before meals and satisfied between meals.
3. Concentrate on the flavours. Take small bites, one at a time to allow your mouth and brain to savour the flavours! The better the flavour experience, the more satisfied we feel with the meal.
4. Pause ½ way through the meal. Take the time to evaluate your hunger levels. If you are experiencing less pleasure with the food, you have likely eaten enough.
5. Avoid distractions while eating. Try to focus on the task at hand by avoiding doing more than one thing at a time. Ex. watching TV, reading or studying while eating.
6. Identify cravings versus hunger. Determine what influences the onset of cravings so that you are better prepared to manage them. Keeping a journal of cravings to help ID emotions, environments and times of the day that may bring about cravings.
7. Do not eat now to avoid eating later on. Avoid eating “in case” you get hungry later on. Focus on the moment at hand and bring a snack if you are afraid hunger may strike.
8. Only YOU can judge your needs. Don’t eat to please someone or to anger them. Only you know how hungry you are and can estimate how much food you need to satisfy that hunger.
9. Practice moderation. Try eating “just enough” and evaluate how you feel physically and mentally. Decrease portions to get a better feel for how much you need to feel satisfied and full after a meal.
10. Slow down. Stretch meals out to be at least 20 minutes long. This will help hunger signals reach the brain before you eat too much.