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.
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.
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.