Despite knowing exactly what I should be doing, there are still the occasional days when I eat too much and days when I eat too little. Today was a day of eating too much. All I wanted was to be horizontal on the couch. Feeling that way made me thankful for the fact that it doesn’t happen every day, but also made me realise just how much our eating has become controlled by factors other than hunger and fullness.
Our bodies are extremely clever at knowing when they need food and when they’ve had enough. You don’t see babies stuffing themselves with fruit puree – they start spitting everything out the second they’ve had enough. But as adults, we’ve stopped listening to those internal cues. All too often we eat when we’re not hungry (because we’re bored, sad, happy, stressed), or we wait until we’re ravenous and then want to eat everything in sight.
It’s important to recognise what physical hunger feels like: an empty sensation in your stomach, or a mild rumbling, roughly 3 hours after your last meal. This would be the time to get something to eat. If you’re feeling tired, losing concentration, feeling dizzy, or getting snappy with people around you, you’ve waited too long. When you’re full, you should feel satisfied and energised, and the hollow feeling in your stomach should be gone.
It’s all part of learning what foods work for you, and paying attention to what your body is saying. Eating slowly also helps…it’s amazing just how many French fries you can gobble down before you realise you’re full, and you’ll just end up in the same position I was in today – immovable, overfull and fast asleep on the couch.