Are You Hungry?

I get a lot of questions and requests to help people with their ‘diets’ (by the way I am not a registered dietitian or nutritionist and all my advice is based on my experience and what I read.)  The very first thing I ask them to do is to create a food journal for three days.  The food journal must include the What? Why? When? Where? How? you ate the food that you ate.

What did you eat?  –> This is self explanatory and helps them take a look at what they consume and might deter them from eating it knowing that they are going to write it down and submit it to a peer for review.

When did you eat it? –> When you ate is important and not because of time.  I am looking for the time difference between feedings.  Your body can go approximately four hours before it needs to be fed again, so if they are eating prior to that there is another reason, besides hunger, that they are eating.


Eating In Your Car Can Make You Forget The Calories You've Consumed

Where did you eat it? –> Are you eating in the car between meetings?  Typically if you are doing this you don’t recall doing it because you are concentrating on other things and may eat again when you reach your destination when you are not hungry.

How did you eat it? –> You would think that this is not important but maybe you ate standing up while walking around your home office.  Maybe you ate your food without sitting at a table and ate it standing while taking a conference call?  This is important because you may lose sight of what you ate.

Why did you eat?  –> This is the most important to me because we have a tendency to eat emotionally instead of from physically being hungry.  The term comfort food is a term I hate.  What is comfort food?  To me it is an excuse to eat anything and everything in sight and comfort food is typically not the healthiest of choices.

Whenever they email me back they have a tendency to state that they had no idea they were eating what they were eating.  This gets to the crux of the matter.  In our society we have forgotten that food is fuel and nothing more.  It has become a staple of all things we do.  If we are bored, we grab a bag of chips.  If we are sad, we turn to macaroni and cheese to comfort us.  If we are running late we go through the drive thru and eat in our car.  If we are happy we celebrate with an oversized cupcake.  These are all ‘hidden’ calories but are they really hidden?

They are not hidden as they are staring us in the face if we would just stop for a moment and open our eyes.  We would notice that food is always right next to us.  We are surrounded by food and food is addictive.  If we eat something that has no true nutritional value our body will essentially reject it and we will be hungry again in an hour.  If we are consuming cheese we really will get addicted because of the casein protein in dairy.

So what are we supposed to do?  Glad you asked because we should be eating when we are hungry and only when we are hungry.  Now you are asking how do you know when you are hungry.  For me there are only two times that I am hungry.  The first time I know I’m hungry is when my stomach tells me.  My stomach will grumble and that is my first queue that it is time to eat.  Funny thing is that when I look at the clock I notice that it has been approximately four hours since I last ate.

The second way I can tell that I am hungry is when I start acting out.  If Karen asks me a question and it leads to a fight or a ridiculous conversation that makes no sense.  Instead of continuing that conversation it is time to get up and go to the kitchen and grab an apple or celery with some nut butter.  I feel better immediately and know that the conversation that I just had was a result of being hungry.

If those two ways are not familiar to you or just won’t help you I found an article from PacificHealthLabs that may help you.  The title of the article is simple and should provide you with an idea of what to do and when.  Don’t Eat When Your Hungry provides 5 ways to avoid hungerless eating.  I am going to provide you the five ways but be sure to read the complete post.


Comfort Food.....Looks Good Doesn't It? How Many Calories Are 'Hidden' in this meal?

Emotional Eating: Often the factor that drives our eating is not physical hunger but emotions such as happiness, sadness, or even boredom. Learn to tell the difference between real, physical hunger and emotional food cravings.

Spontaneous Eating: Food is almost everywhere in our society, and often we eat it just because it’s there, even when we’re already full.

Unconscious Eating: Sometimes we eat without even being fully conscious that we are doing so. For example, while watching television you might eat half a box of cookies even though you’re not hungry.

Habitual Eating: Eating out of habit instead of hunger is known as habitual eating. Eating on a schedule is a good thing if the schedule is sensible, but becomes a bad thing when the schedule is not sensible.

Clearing Your Plate: The four types of hungerless eating described above involve starting to eat when you’re not hungry. But sometimes we start to eat when we’re hungry and don’t stop when we’re full.

Maybe we don’t need to have fat taxes, such as those imposed by Denmark and France, but need to train ourselves about eating when we are hungry.  Teaching somebody these tips and tricks is going to take a lot of work but I am willing to do so and am offering you my point of view of your eating habits if you want them evaluated.  You can send me your food log through the contact me section of this site.

If you are looking for ways to participate in helping educate society then please donate to Shape Up America! through the following link.  This non-profit organization does a great job in helping to educate America about the benefits of diet and exercise.

How Do You Know When You Are Hungry?

What? When? Why? Where? How? do you eat your meals?

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  1. fantastic post! You hit on a lot of different things all at one time. I have to say the Unprocessed Challenge is forcing me to break habits and makes me think before i put anything in my mouth if it fits within guidelines. It’s been an amazing wake up call
    Amanda – RunToTheFinish recently posted..Unprocessed and Sugar Free Long RunsMy Profile

  2. Jill says:

    Oh gosh…I feel like you wrote this for me! ;)
    I tend to get bad headaches when I need to eat. It may be a thirst thing, too.
    Ok….in the process of starting my log! Thanks!!
    Jill recently posted..The Golden Rockies / Week 5My Profile

    • CTER says:

      I am ready to eat right now because my stomach just grumbled big time at me. Queue #1 thatI’m hungry and will now eat, but I will be eating a banana with some peanut butter, honey and cinnamon. This will keep me full until lunch time.

  3. Christie says:

    Starting a 3 day journal for you to evaluate!

    • CTER says:

      Christie –

      Pick one of the next three days to take pictures of what you eat and I will post it on Athlete’s Plate for the Athlete and provide you an evaluation as well. That is if you want to do that.

  4. lindsay says:

    i know a lot of times i eat out of boredom… i know i know! not good!! (it mostly happens at work…) i’m trying to substitute the boredom eating with drinking more water so that i am “full” from that and then don’t want to eat anything. i’m also bad at “rewarding” myself with food, but you know i can’t bring myself to “splurge” on a new pair of $30, 50, 100 shoes instead!

    • CTER says:

      Bored at work? Good thing that your bosses don’t read my posts…..HA! That is a great idea on the water front…..will work for sure.

      Maybe buy that $30 pair of shoes and you won’t have the nerve to purchase that reward food.

  5. adena says:

    Warm tea really helps me when I think I’m hungry. I also have a deal with myself for after dinner snacking. If I feel hungry I allow myself to eat as much grilled chicken and/or veggies as I want. If I am truly hungry I’ll eat that, if I don’t want the chicken I probably wasn’t hungry anyway. For the record I’ll have the chicken/veg 1 out of 10 times.
    adena recently posted..Happy ThanksgivingMy Profile

  6. Christina says:

    Since one of my “off season” goals is to reduce my weight by 10% and I know that my eating has been completely out of control for a long time, I’ve printed this out and am typing up food log pages with the key questions. My previous attempts at food logs have been decent as I’m much more aware of what I put in my mouth when I have to write it down, but I think the full circumstances of eating (not just the what) are a great add to this. I’m going to do a challenge starting next week (as I’m traveling crazy this week and I know it won’t be pretty). Will be interesting to see how many improvements I can make when I have to really stop and think about it each time. Last 2 weeks of October (including Halloween temptations) is a great time for me to focus on this!

    • CTER says:

      Christina – if there is a way I can help do not hesitate to contact me through the site. This is going to be the hardest time of the year so if you get through these two months you will have set yourself up for success. And just remember that it takes ONLY 3 weeks to create a habit.

  7. I will admit I am very bad about eating in my car but only because it’s a necessity. I like this post I need to print it out and place it on the bulletin board in our briefing room. I take a lot of junk from the guys because I refuse to go eat with them most nights. The only places open after midnight are Dennys, Waffle House, Taco Bell, and McDonalds and let’s be real they are not the healthiest places to eat. I have found it hard to figure out new meals which I can eat in the car which are #1. Healthy #2. Not messy and #3. Don’t need to be warmed up. This means I generally have a PB&J sandwich most nights. I don’t know if that is the best plan but I think it beats the fast food joints!
    Summer Bailey recently posted..Ironman Augusta 70.3 Race Recap.My Profile

  8. this post speaks to me and is probably the only hard part of eating. it’s easy to eat everything super healthy but when and how much is the hard part. being obsessed with food doesn’t help either. I think the keys are to keep busy and not think about too much (for me).
    Max@flavortogofast recently posted..My Power Pancake!My Profile

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