Eat To Live – Not Live To Eat

By: Wendy Hearn

Do you find yourself eating food when you're not even hungry? I've noticed that others, myself included, often eat food without even stopping to assess whether we're hungry or not. I encourage you to get in touch with your body and eat only when you need to. This entails being aware of your body's needs and not eating food if you're not hungry. When I speak to people who maintain a healthy weight level without any real effort, I find one of the keys for them is they only eat when they're hungry. If they're not hungry they don't eat. This group of people generally find it hard to understand how the rest of us can eat food if we're not hungry. As most of you know, when we eat food when we're not hungry, this is usually being triggered by something else which is going on in our lives. One of the first steps to identifying these triggers and dealing with them is for you to be aware of the times when you're hungry and the times when you're not. This will take some time and effort to start with, but as with any habit, it becomes easier over time. Eventually, you will unconsciously go through the process of determining when you're really hungry.

First, you need to start thinking consciously about your hunger levels. I would suggest that in your mind or on paper you create a ladder with 10 rungs and label each rung with a level of hunger, according to what feels right for you. For instance, rung 1 might be "I've just eaten and feel full up." Rung 2 might be "I ate an hour ago and still feel satisfied." Rung 5 might be "I'm starting to feel slightly hungry." Rung 7 might be "I'm feeling hungry now and it would be a good time for me to eat." Rung 10 might be "I'm absolutely starving and want to devour anything." The wording of these rungs needs to suit you and reflect yourself. I suggest that round about rung 6 or 7 is when you really start to feel hungry and therefore it's appropriate to eat. Rung 1 should be not needing to eat at all and rung 10 needs to be the other extreme, where you're far too hungry. When you want to eat food, take a look at this ladder and determine for yourself where you are on it. If you're on a low rung, perhaps your urge to eat is being triggered by something else and it would be beneficial to take a look at this.

I would suggest the best time to eat food is round about rung 6 or 7 when you're genuinely hungry and need food more than anything else. I would also encourage you not to get to rung 9 or 10 before you eat, or the hunger you're feeling will overwhelm your good sense and you're likely to overeat in order to feel satisfied.

When you get that hungry, eating reasonable quantities of food seems to go out of the window. This level of hunger causes your blood sugar level to drop and affects the ability of your whole body to operate efficiently, especially your brain. Also, when you reach this stage, you'll probably grab any food that's going, rather than making healthy choices. The idea isn't to get to the top of the ladder quickly and be able to eat what you want!

When you find yourself thinking about food to eat, I encourage you to use this ladder and ask yourself a few questions. Where am I on the ladder? What am I going to do about being on that rung? For example, if you're not hungry, what else is prompting you to eat? If you're on rung 4 or 5, do you have healthy food available when you move up a couple of rungs? What do I most need at this moment?

Wendy Hearn | Weight Loss Success Coach - Author of "The Top 10 Things That Stop YOU From Losing Weight"

Wendy Hearn is the author of "The Top 10 Things That Stop YOU From Losing Weight"

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