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In a perfect world, we would naturally only eat until our brains told our body that we had enough food to survive comfortably with, and then we would stop eating.
We would listen for the signal our brain sends to our stomach to recognize that we’ve satisfied (not stuffed) our hunger.
As a result, overeating and needless grazing would be eliminated and our waistlines would thank us for it.
However, when you get that strong craving that you feel compelled to feed, it doesn’t feel like perfect world conditions, does it?
In your daily world, there are times when you may eat when you’re really not hungry at all, right?
For a number of reasons, there are times in life where we all find ourselves reaching for something convenient to snack on.
After a while, that behavior can derail your fitness program and add unwanted weight to your waistline. Below are some common reasons that we may eat when we're not hungry and tips on how to deal with them and stop overeating.
1. You want to clean your plate
Remember when you were little and your parents told you to "clean your plate?" Well, as an adult that notion may have you adding more food to your diet than necessary. Even when you're not hungry, you may find yourself eating because you don't want to waste anything.
There are two simple ways to correct that bad habit: 1) If you're eating out, ask the server to box half of your portion before it even get to the table. If you're inclined to clear your plate, you've only consumed half the amount and you have leftovers for another time, 2) At home, prepare your meals on smaller plates/dishes. If you happen to clean your plate, you've consumed less than you would if you used a full-size dinner plate to prepare your meals.
2. Bully in action
Unfortunately, bullying doesn't stop at the playground. The most well-meaning food bullies are often family members. They encourage you to eat more with phrases like "you only live once," or "you work out all the time, an extra piece of cake won't hurt you."
While it's important not to deprive yourself of the nutrients and calories you need to maintain a healthy weight, your body knows when you're not hungry anymore. A remedy to help you refuse extra food and respond to food bullies is to politely decline. Perhaps a friendly, "I couldn't possibly eat anymore, I'm stuffed" or "I can take that for the road" would suffice.
In any event, when you know you'll be around someone who is a food bully, practice your refusal beforehand. That way you won't have to scramble to say no.
3. Free food is awesome
I'm one of the cheapest people in the world, so when I see free food, my instincts tell me to go for it. It's great for your budget to be able to eat for free, but if you're not hungry, it won't be great for your physique.
A very simple solution is to ask yourself if you took the time to get a to-go box or plate, could you see yourself eating it at a later time. If not, then you're not hungry and you shouldn't eat it at that time.
Free is awesome, but maintaining a healthy weight is even better.
4. The clock is ticking ...
And it says "lunchtime or dinnertime." When you reach those peak hours of the day, it's tempting to eat just because that's what you're supposed to do.
However, gauge your hunger level and determine if you'd be eating for the sake of eating or if you're really hungry. If you are really hungry, eat a healthy, small meal to satisfy your hunger. If not, wait a bit and eat later.
There's no hard and fast rule that you must eat when the clock strikes noon or 5 pm. Assess your body and respond accordingly.
5. Too tired to move
Sometimes we're too tired to do even the smallest of tasks so we think having a bite to eat will supply more energy. In certain cases, it may. However, if you reach for the wrong type of food, your sugar levels will elevate, then crash in a way that could leave you feeling worse than you did prior to eating.
If you think you're hungry, try envisioning yourself eating something healthy. If you'd pass on that idea, then you're not truly hungry and may need to up the amount of time you spend sleeping to offset your tired feeling throughout the day.
6. Special times call for special circumstances
Holidays, birthday parties, weddings ... all of those are great excuses to try new dishes and perhaps eat more than you should. It's hard to say no to food when attending any special event with an array of goodies.
But, there are other ways to celebrate special occasions. If you know that you'll be attending a wedding and you want to eat the cake, make sure you opt for the healthy items on the dinner menu over the calorie-ridden ones.
If you're not hungry enough for a meal, don't eat one. There's no rule that you can't have a dessert only. Just be sure it's one dessert and not the sampler dessert tray!
7. It's there, so I may as well eat it.
This notion is one that I used to struggle with often. You attend a book club, wine party, work conference or any other event and you're around a buffet of food items, it may be hard to pass it up.
If you know you will attend a function with a buffet style serving option, your best bet is to pre-game it. What dos that mean? Pre-gaming means eating before you get there.
If you don't want to eat before you get there, then you're probably not hungry enough to sample everything that the menu has to offer. Making that determination ahead of time will save you some extra calories.
Just as some eat because of stress, others eat because they are bored.
You spend one Saturday in the house relaxing and the next thing you know, you've eating more than you ever thought you could and you don't even remember being hungry enough to consume all those calories.
A great solution for that is to get moving. If it's push-ups during commercial breaks on you favorite program, cleaning the fridge or clearing a bookshelf you've been wanting to de-clutter for the longest time, activity will curb your desire to eat out of boredom.
9. Food buddies
There are food bullies and food buddies. We all have that friend who may be a "foodie." They love food and they're willing to share in your love for food, as well. Couple that with great conversation and good food, and you'll eventually wonder where the time ... and food went.
While everyone else is eyeing and ordering, make up your mind to skip the bread basket or dessert. Focus on choosing a good quality meal over something that is filling and loaded with calories. While at social gatherings, keep your drinks to a minimum and choose finger foods that are healthy (like fruits and veggies).
10. Food as a friend
Sometimes life is so hard and stressful that we want to turn to food to ease things. A drink here, a donut there, some chips here, and all of a sudden you've consumed more calories then you've ever intended and you weren't even hungry.
We all can appreciate the notion of 'comfort food' but there's nothing comforting about gaining weight unnecessarily. Stock your cabinets and fridge with healthy foods and snacks. You will be less likely to consume junk food if you don't stock it in your home.
Also, when you're having a hard time, it's best to talk with friends or family to work things out, instead of turning to food.
Other ways to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle
As you can see, there are many reasons that you might find yourself reaching for food when you're not hungry. By arming yourself with knowledge of how to deal with each scenario will benefit you in maximizing your workout results and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
At Bootique Fitness, we recognize that what you eat plays a big role in how you look and how you feel about yourself.
It’s our mission to help you look and feel better! It’s not just about fitness, nutrition and emotions play a big role in getting fit and happy. That’s why we work closely with our clients on their nutrition and their emotions. Each of our clients gets one-on-one attention from our nutrition specialist and a customized meal plan that is easy to use and won’t leave you feeling deprived.
The Sexy Bikini Challenge starts March 15th! This 90 day program is complete with all the tools you need to get in the best shape of your life before the summer hits and the long sleeves come off. Get started now with a free trial of our boot camps for women.
There’s a new Zumba class on Saturdays at 9:00 am. This addition makes for four Zumba classes a week that we offer.
Zumba classes are known for burning up to 800 calories per class. That’s 3200 calories in a week just for dancing – which equals just about a pound of weight loss burned off (3500 calories = 1 lb). So, put on your dancing shoes (sneakers) and come party with us.
Jaylin Allen is a local fitness expert in San Diego, known for getting her clients in shape in record time through her popular "Boot Camps For Women" and "Zumba" classes. For more information about Jaylin, fitness, or her classes, be sure to check out Bootique Fitness or call (619) 602-8087.