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Are you actually hungry?

When it comes to weight loss advice, the simplest tip out there is to eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re satisfied. But let’s be real, it’s not always easy to stick to that. Sometimes, we eat even when we’re not really hungry, and that can make it harder to lose weight.

So, why do we do it? Well, it’s actually a natural human tendency to crave foods that are high in fat, sugar, protein, and starch. These types of foods make us feel good by triggering the release of the happy hormone dopamine in our brains. Plus, they were historically important for our survival because they provided concentrated sources of energy in case of famine.

But these days, we don’t need to worry about famine. So, why do we still eat when we’re not really hungry? There are many reasons, such as emotional eating when we’re feeling down or stressed, eating out of habit, or eating just because food is convenient. Plus, we can even mistake thirst for hunger and end up eating when all we really need is a glass of water.

Eating simply out of habit. For example, if you always get a cake when you meet your friend for coffee, you might automatically order one with your latte without even considering it. And sometimes tempting snacks are just within reach. Convenience is a strong force, you don’t need to be hungry to grab a chocolate bar as you walk by the shop.

The bottom line is, to try to eat when we’re actually hungry if we want to lose weight. But it’s also important to realise why we sometimes eat even when we’re not hungry and deal with those reasons so we can make more mindful decisions about what we eat and when. We will help you with this in our groups.

Recognising real hunger

Let’s talk about real hunger, and how to tell if you’re actually hungry or just craving that pizza. The key is to pay attention to your body. When you’re physically hungry, you’ll feel it in your tummy – your stomach will be empty or growling, and you might feel a bit low on energy. The longer you go without eating, the stronger these feelings will get.

Another clue is what kinds of foods sound good to you. If you’re genuinely hungry, even healthy snacks like apples or grapes will sound appealing. But if you’re only interested in specific foods like chips or brownies, it’s probably your cravings talking, not your hunger.

Get on track for success

Knowing when you’re really hungry can prevent you from eating for other reasons, but there are a few simple steps you can take to avoid these confusing situations in the first place.

One way is to make tempting foods less accessible. For example, keep snacks hidden away in the back of the cupboard instead of on the counter where they’re easy to grab mindlessly. Or, avoid having them around at all. If your brain knows you’d have to make an effort to go out and get ice cream, you’re more likely to resist the urge to indulge.

It’s also essential to be aware of your emotional state. Feeling stressed or overwhelmed can trigger overeating, so try to manage your stress levels through activities like exercise or taking a  walk outside, maybe call a friend, meditation may be your thing. 

And don’t forget the importance of a good night’s sleep! Getting enough rest can help you combat stress eating and keep your cravings in check. 

Next time you think you’re hungry, ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I experiencing physical sensations like hunger pangs or low energy?
  • What am I about to eat? Would I still choose it if it were an apple?
  • What effort is required to satisfy my hunger?
  • How am I feeling emotionally?