Do you ever eat when not hungry? When bored, stressed, watching TV, holiday meals, late night snacking, deserts, chips etc? Hey guess what, it's pretty common. While there are many behavioral strategies to help with overeating, one that is gaining popularity is 'mindful eating.' While for many, utilizing a combination of strategies is helpful, including mindful eating may improve success. Check out this link from Harvard to learn more about 'mindful eating.' A 'mindful eating' experience may include: slowing down and taking more time to eat, tasting each bite of food, and paying attention to your feelings of hunger and fullness.
Let's drill down a little further on our hunger and fullness cues. To learn more about the hunger fullness scale, check out this link. One is starving, ten is stuffed, three is hungry (clear signals to eat, but not uncomfortable), seven is satisfied/full (but not overly full or stuffed). The goal is to stay in the grey zone (between 3-7), aiming to eat at a 3 and stop at a 7.
How to get started? Begin by becoming more aware of your hunger and fullness cues during and between meals. Try not to judge yourself, just become more aware. If you eat past fullness, it happens, so think about why it may have happened. Aim to eat when hungry, not starving (a 3) and stop when satisfied (a 7). Sometimes, eating at a 1 (starving) causes us to eat to a 9 or 10 (very full/stuffed), but not always, depends on the person and situation. Are you really hungry 2 hours after dinner or is that habit instead? Are you full, but still have a half a 1/4 plate of food left and keep eating? Again, no judgement, just awareness. One last note, if you are a late night snacker, it takes about 3-4 hours to digest a meal, so by hour 2 after a meal, your blood sugar is peaking and more food is usually not needed. It's an interesting topic and certainly worth more exploration.
Yours in great health!
Kevin Grodnitzky, MS, RDN, CDE, LDN Registered Dietitian Nutritionist