Its the holy grail of the weight loss world: staying slim without much effort. How come some people are just naturally slim? Did God just bless them with a metabolism like a rocket?
While, some naturally slim people may have a quicker metabolism, its not as big of a factor as you might think. What I have found, as someone who has been slim both with a lot of effort and with very little effort, is that getting in touch with the sensations of hunger and fullness plays a huge roll in staying lean effortlessly.
What do I mean by that? A naturally thin person will eat when they start to feel hungry. Sounds mindbogglingly simple right? Well its not. Throughout the course of your day pay attention to when you eat because the clock says to, or because your friends or family are eating or because you are bored, or even out of habit (I got home from work, time to pig out!). I bet that you will notice that many times you are eating in response to cues other than hunger. Maybe, like I had at one point, you have been dieting so long you don’t even know what it feels like to be full.
Knowing what fullness feels like is also important. It takes a few minutes for your body to send your brain the signal that you have had enough, so eating too quickly can sabotage this sensation of fullness. Also, its easy to get into the habit of eating to external cues rather than listening to the cues of hunger and fullness: you may eat until a TV show is done, or until the plate is clean.
Figuring out and learning to respond to your cues of hunger and fullness is your body’s natural method for weight control. And when combined with healthy food to fuel yourself, it will be easy for you to maintain a slim physique.
Here are my tips for getting in touch with your hunger and fullness cues:
- Chew slowly- As I mentioned, it takes time for your brain to get the message that you are full. This involves a complex process of hormones. By chewing slowly you give your brain time to receive these signals.
- Pause after each bite and ask yourself if you are truly hungry for more- Again this slows your eating down and forces you to be aware of the sensations of hunger and fullness.
- Eat with your non-dominant hand- Another tactic to slow yourself down and make yourself more aware.
- Put away distractions like tv, your cell phone, even reading the paper and try to have a mindful meal- This will help you to be more aware of your hunger and fullness cues and will make you less likely to eat to external cues.
- If you have been dieting a long time it may take your body a while to feel full. Fuel your body with healthy foods like fruit, vegetables and lean protein and allow yourself to eat until you truly feel satisfied. I remember when I first tried this after dieting for a long time, I was scared at how much I could eat without feeling full (it was A LOT), if that sounds like you, hang in there eventually your appetite will even out.
- Check in with your emotions when you eat. Are you eating because you are bored, angry, stressed or tired? Taking a twenty minute walk before a meal can help you combat emotional eating and help you figure out when you are truly hungry.
- Drink water!- Sometimes we misinterpret hunger as thirst. Try drinking a big glass of water before a meal.
- Measure your portions. Try preparing a meal with measured portions of 1 serving of protein, 1 serving of vegetables, 1 serving of complex carbs and 1 serving of fat. Once you finish your portions wait at least 20 minutes before going for seconds. It can take up to 20 minutes for our brain to process the signal of fullness so if you are used to eating quickly unlimited portions your brain may not be receiving the signal that you are full in enough time.
I hope you found these tips helpful. Are you in touch with your hunger and fullness cues? If not, I’d love to set up a health coaching session with you where we can set goals and figure out a step by step process to achieving them. You can contact me here.