I don’t know about you, but I just get so HUNGRY sometimes, like out of whack with what my actual needs are to fuel my body. And I realized that there can be “appetite triggers” around us that actually trick us into feeling hungry when we really physically do not need food (nasty devils, they are. As if this whole “health and fitness” thing wasn’t challenging enough already!).
So, this week’s series is just for busy, professional working women (just like me!), and is all about ways to make your appetite, especially when you are trying to control your energy balance (see last week’s post to geek out on our energy needs) to lose weight or fat. I’ve also posted the five points as a video series on Instagram and Facebook. You can read the fine print, next!
Change the Channel
Literally. If an ad comes on for food on the TV, whether it’s “healthful” or not, change the channel. Same with the radio or any social media feed. Change the station. Scroll right on by.
Digestion starts in the brain and being constantly bombarded with messages about food or recipes when it’s not actually time to eat and/or you are not actually hungry can MAKE you hungry.
Have you ever heard an ad for a restaurant or a food and suddenly felt hungry, just because you’re now thinking about food and you weren’t before? Some ads can literally get your mouth to water! Don’t spend inordinate amounts of time checking out recipes (especially ones you’ll never make), or scrolling through “food porn” on Pinterest. An increased interest in baking, cooking and food in general can come with the territory if your diet is overly restrictive in either quantity or variety, or both.
Steer Clear of Food (when you’re not hungry)
In the same way that seeing images of food or hearing about food in media can make you hungry, being within physical proximity of the sights, smells or even sounds of food can cause hunger that’s really all in your mind. Is there a restaurant you walk by each day? A special place in the office where you’re likely to encounter a box of donuts? If you’re not already in the mood for those foods or you’re not hungry, why even put them in your radar? Simply find a new path to get to your destination.
Bonus! This might mean a longer path, getting a little more activity squeezed into your day! Boost that NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis, aka all the energy you burn each day while moving around OUTSIDE of your “official” workout)!
Conversely, if you’re hungry and totally in the mood for a donut, you know where to find them.
Eat with Family
Make sure that you prepare the same foods for everyone in your family. This is especially true if you find yourself preparing different foods for your kids or significant other that you would otherwise really want to eat, if it weren’t for your “diet.” The experience of watching them eat it and “denying” it to yourself sends a message that the food is “off limits” and can create a sense of deprivation and restriction that can backfire in the long run.
Even if you feel or tell yourself in the moment that you don’t want that food, is that really true? If it’s a food you would otherwise want to eat (except for your “diet”), then have a small serving and enjoy the heck out of it! Eat slowly, mindfully and SAVOUR it!
Conversely, make sure your entire family is eating healthful, balanced meals to set them all up for long term success and health. You are an important role model! If you don’t think you’re going to feel and look your best eating donuts for breakfast, then don’t feed them to your family, either. If donuts are your jam for a special occasion family breakfast, then EVERYONE (including you), should eat one (bonus points if they’re from a specialty bakery and come in one of those fancy white bakery boxes with ribbon, but even if it’s just the local coffee joint, you do you, boo!).
Plan to Eat
I especially mean this for social events and outings. This might be the opposite of past plans to NOT eat. I know sometimes I certainly felt like I couldn’t “trust myself” around so many tempting foods. Would I just go crazy and eat all the things? I thought it was safer to eat none of the things instead.
But then sometimes I’d come home and I’d feel so restricted or deprived that I’d find myself several spoonfuls deep in a jar of peanut butter, or something else. Or I’d make it through that event, but then the next one or the one after that, I’d end up eating ALLTHETHINGS.
So, instead, I invite you to eat. Consider what foods might be on the menu. Decide what you really want and are in the mood for (just because it’s there doesn’t mean you have to eat it if you’re not in the mood). Then get a reasonable serving size, sit down, relax and enjoy the heck out of it (which really, you should be doing with all of your foods anyway, all the way to celery sticks. Oh, the unmistakable celery flavour! The audible, satisfying crunch and fibrous texture. The cool wetness. You can – and should – truly experience celery with all five of your senses).
Close your eyes. Eat slowly and mindfully, taking the time to savour every bite – no guiltily stuffing bites down in the hopes that no one sees you. Are you known for being a “health queen”? You might get to contend with questions or remarks along the lines of, “You’re eating THAT?” Here’s a perfect opportunity to explain more about the sustainability of a long-term, balanced approach to eating where all foods are considered in the context of an overall day or week.
Once you have the mental freedom and permission, those foods might just not seem so tempting any more.
Honour Your Appetite
if you’re not tired, bored, lonely, procrastinating or stressed and you’re truly experiencing physical hunger, chances are you are hungry for a reason: you need food.
And rather than desperately clinging to a certain arbitrary calorie threshold, it’s much better to honour your appetite and actually eat.
Craving a specific food or type of food? Your body likely needs one or more specific nutrient(s) in that food.
Once you give yourself the mental freedom and permission (there are those magical words again – I’m repeating them for a reason) to have a balanced portion of that food, you might find such a sense of peace. Enjoy the food and move on.
The alternative? You continue to deny your hunger and cravings until you finally “break” or “cave” and you eat ALLTHETHINGS.
What’s been your experience? Is it better to have a normal serving and move on, or hold out until the craving passes (until the next time)?
Have a fit day!