We all know that frustration: a starving kid finally gets their meal, only to push it away and run off to play after two bites.
Or the kid who grabs a handful of everything at a buffet, only to try MAYBE 3 of the items.
As frustrating as it is, this pattern highlights a very important human mechanism: hunger cueing.
Through an elaborate integration of numerous body systems, our body knows when it’s hungry, what it needs and how much it needs. That’s why kids, in general, know when they’re hungry and know when they’re full. They eat until content and then resume their activity. Unfortunately, external factors (like stress, sleep deprivation, culture customs, etc) can put a wrench in this system as you grow up, leading to a disconnect to understanding our body’s needs and, often times, overeating.
Fortunately, the body never loses this ability-- think of it more as “in hiding”.
To reconnect, try one of the following small strategies. As always, the easier and more minute the task is perceived to be, the more likely you are to implement AND sustain.
Slow down when you eat
Chew five times before swallowing
Put your utensil down between each bite
Focus on the flavour, you'll end up spending more time with the food in your mouth as you look for the nuanced spices or textures
Eat with company-- socializing will help you achieve most of the aforementioned!
Eat without distractions (unless it’s company :P)
Eat until 80% full
Give yourself an extra 5-10 minutes for each meal
You'll notice that most of these involve spending more time eating-- which can seem counterintuitive when you're trying to lose weight. However, spending more time eating can help you in manys. For one, it's been estimated that your satiation feedback mechanism can take up to 20 minutes to kick in. Eating slower will allow you to eat a more appropriate quantity of calories during this time, leaving you satisfied versus stuffed. For another, eating slower can help you enjoy your food and how the food makes you feel. Cultivating a positive relationship with food leads to choosing the foods that make your body feel good-- which, surprise-surprise, happens to be the whole, nutrient-dense items.
Have something else that worked for you? We would love to hear about it!