You know the scene: You’re just about to log off from your computer when you spot an email from your colleague asking you to urgently complete a report before you leave the office. The report will take you at least half an hour and that means you will be stuck in bumper-to-bumper traffic all the way home. Immediately, you feel the need for a snack: the day has been long and is about to become even longer! And that’s how you find yourself in front of the vending machine picking a chocolate you might have otherwise not have had instead of healthy fast food.
We eat for various reasons and there are different forms of “hunger”:
- Head hunger
It’s 12h00 so I must be hungry for lunch now. Although your instincts tell you that you should be hungry at this time of the day, it is not necessarily the case. You could have had a late breakfast, for instance, or a large snack an hour before.
- Mouth hunger
You feel the need to eat something. This could simply be dehydration. Drink a glass or two of water and wait a few minutes to see if the feeling passes.
- Heart hunger
Emotional triggers can make you feel like eating. Boredom, loneliness, stress and sadness can make you crave a treat to make you feel better. Just bear in mind that it is not only negative feelings that have this effect! Positive feelings such as love and happiness can also trigger emotional eating: just think about how newlyweds pack on the kilos!
- Stomach hunger
Your stomach starts growling. This is real hunger and happens when you haven’t eaten for a while and your blood sugar is starting to drop.
The trick is being able to identify what triggers your hunger or appetite. When you feel hungry, ask yourself if it can wait for a while. Emotional hunger needs to be satisfied instantly whereas physical hunger can wait. Likewise, cravings are like a guest knocking on a door when they know someone is home. They are persistent and keep knocking louder and louder until someone answers and lets them in. For this reason dont let a crave become so persistent that you end up over indulging completely. Feel like some ice cream? Have a small cone rather than ignoring it and ending up having the whole 2 litre tub!
A suggestion to help you think twice before eating when you are not really HUNGRY … Put a giant question mark on your fridge (or the office vending machine if it is appropriate!). The question mark is there to remind you to stop before grabbing a snack or nibbling on something and to ask yourself this question:
Am I really hungry, or do I just want to change the way I feel?
If you just want to change the way you feel then no amount of healthy fast food will satisfy you. You may never get the signal to stop eating because you were never hungry for food in the first place. You will soon recognise a pattern in your eating habits and become able to change them into a healthy diet plan improve your mood, health and overall wellness.