The Importance of knowing when you are Hungry…

This seems like a silly topic to discuss at first sight. Know when I’m hungry? Really, my 1 hour old knows he/she is hungry, trust me they’ll tell me pretty quickly, so why do you think I a grown adult needs to be told to eat when they are hungry?

The honest answer… Because 75% of us don’t! 

Most of us fall into at least one of the following categories:

  • Eat at the same time every day, 7am breakfast, 12 noon lunch, 5pm dinner
  • Eat when we can on our break regardless of how we feel because its the only time we have
  • Eat when we are bored
  • Eat when we are stressed
  • Eat until we are almost so full we might burst
  • Don’t eat even if we feel hungry because we don’t want to gain weight
  • Only eat between certain times of day
  • Don’t eat after 5pm
  • Skip breakfast
  • Track calories and prepare and consume that number daily
  • Track macro nutrients and eat until we hit the numbers on the page or app
  • Follow a diet all week even though we are starving and then go crazy on Saturday
  • Have a cheat day

For most of you at least one of these points above is you. But ask yourself this. Why don’t you eat when you are hungry? Or why are you eating when you are not?

Lets look at the eat when you are hungry first.

When you feel hunger, that slow build up of emptiness in your belly, that desire for food that isn’t a quick craving but a very real, need for nourishment, your body is trying to tell you that it is time to eat. Your body needs fuel, vitamins, minerals and macro nutrients to survive. Hunger is its way of telling you ‘Hey! Top me up!’

Now let me be perfectly clear now, there is a very distinct difference between, hunger and cravings. Cravings last for approximately 10-30 minutes, and is usually caused by one of two things,

1. A drop in blood sugar resulting in your brain freaking out and demanding immediate rectification of this crisis. (your brain loves sugar so much its the only thing it uses for fuel, seriously) So you go looking for that sweet treat to boost it back up

2. A desire to break the rules, that diet is becoming strenuous at best so we want to be naughty and break it (why diets usually don’t work, just saying).

Hunger on the other hand is caused by a desire for more calories, energy, nutrients, or other product you could only get from more food, you have used up your stores now time to replenish. So the best thing to start to do at this point is to be mindful of your body and what it is trying to tell you. Are you craving a short term hit, or are you hungry. If you are hungry then go get some food and make sure it is good food full of nutrients your body needs. Make it tasty and make it good. Treat your body to one hell of a good meal, get some veg, get some protein and some healthy fats in there, go on, make your body salivate at the mouth as it stares down at your plate. Eat until you don’t feel full then leave and go about your business, kick some ass in the gym, nail that business meeting, write that blog post what ever you are doing do it well.

A good way to start this approach is to honestly assess how you feel. Think about it like a scale if you want to with 0 being 0. Completely starving, like starving starving, not just oh I’m starving after my long days work, I mean no food starving. and 10 being about to explode full. We never want to be at either of these options. Get some food once you hit about a 3 – hungry, feeling your belly begin to rumble, and stop eating at a 6-7 satisfied and no longer hungry.

Now 2 quick points:

  1. Sleep affects appetite – sleep plays a huge role in hormonal and energy levels in the body and can affect cravings and appetite. Make sure to get 8 hours if you can each night. Seriously, sleep is VERY important. See sleep, stress and weight loss for more info.
  2. Hydration – dehydration can feel similar to hunger, make sure to stay hydrated, drink 2 litres of WATER daily, adding an extra .5 litres for every hour of strenuous exercise.

Do not eat if you ain’t hungry. Don’t have a snack because you always have a snack at this time, don’t grab that biscuit with your tea ‘because hey free biscuits’.  Don’t eat that meal at 6pm because your coach told you to eat this many calories daily, just eat when you honestly feel hungry. If you ain’t hungry, don’t eat the food, there are plenty of starving people in this world, if you are not hungry then you do not need that food my friend.

Now the other side…

Eat when you are hungry:
If you are hungry then EAT! PLEASE! Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should you starve yourself just to try to lose an extra few pounds, your body will not thank you for it. This is your body, your body! The place your consciousness lives, treat it with some love man!

Do you want to know what you lose when you starve yourself? Muscle, some fat yes, but a lot of muscle because it needs calories to be maintained, your body will give up muscle if it doesn’t need it. And whats more that muscle you just lost was aiding your health in a huge way, and also aiding your metabolism, so now you don’t need as much calories and now when you stop starving yourself, guess what, your body doesn’t need that food and it stores it as.. you guessed it… FAT! Now some fat is good, in fact some fat is great. But you need to eat healthy and have a goof balance of fat and muscle in your body to be healthy and live a healthy and long life.

If you honestly plug into your body and listen to it, it is very good at knowing when it is time to feed and when it isn’t. If you listen, eat good food, and stay active, you will eat when your body needs and always be healthy.

It’s not that hard, but somehow modern life has made it that way. It’s time to reconnect, it’s time to listen, and it’s time to live.

Eat When You Are Hungry!



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