The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management, a program of the Institute for Lifelong Weight Management – teaching you the skills you need to keep the weight off forever!
- Pay attention to why you eat
Eat when, and only when, your body tells you that it’s in need of fuel. Here’s how you can tell that your body is in need of high-quality nourishment. When your body is depleted and needs replenishment in the form of nutritious food, that’s when you’ll experience the physical signs of hunger. These include a feeling that your stomach is empty, or the sensation of your stomach growling or rumbling.
A hunger pang is in fact merely a muscle contraction. When our stomach is full, these contractions send the food we eat through our digestive tract. On the other hand, if our stomach is empty the contractions just squeeze air, and that’s what makes the rumbling or growling noise. When we eat, our pancreas secretes insulin, a hormone that allows us to change the food we eat into glucose, the simple sugar that keeps our body functioning, and then to transport the glucose into our cells. A higher level of glucose temporarily turns off the sensation of hunger. Then, when the level of glucose circulating in the blood falls again, we may experience that feeling of emptiness, which signals us to eat again.
If we go on for too long without giving our body the nourishment that it needs, we may start to feel a headache coming on, or we might feel shaky or weak. These physical sensations are a result of low blood sugar levels and/or the release of hunger-indicating hormones. Hunger is an important biological response that ensures that our bodies get what they need to continue functioning reasonably well.
If you’re eating when you’re not truly physically hungry, you could be eating for a multitude of other potential reasons. Whatever these might be, you’re putting yourself at risk for weight regain.
2. Pay attention to the internal and external cues that are triggering you to eat when you are not physically hungry
Here are some of the most common non-hunger-based eating triggers:
- Food characteristics: the smell, sight, and sound of certain foods
- Certain activities: watching TV, reading, thinking, socializing, attending sporting or cultural events
- Particular meal settings: restaurants, mom or grandma’s house, outdoors events (barbeques, picnics)
- Special or significant events: holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, parties, weekends or days off, anniversaries of losses or other traumatic events
- Time of day: breakfast-time, lunch-time, dinner-time, bedtime
- People: including people who stress us, people who comfort us, people who give us permission (or encourage us) to make poor food choices
- Hearing or thinking certain words: food brand names, food names, words for different tastes or textures (gooey, chocolatey, delicious, crunchy, sweet)
- Weather: cold or wet weather, hot weather, picnic weather
Eating for reasons other than true physical hunger is ultimately about your relationship with food. If you’re using food as an antidote to or “cure” for anxiety, sadness, loneliness, boredom, or any other emotion, then you’re putting yourself at risk for weight regain. The same goes for mindless eating based on long-established and often unconscious habits.
I’m hosting a free call on how to prevent weight regain after bariatric surgery. Please join me for this call by registering below:
Look out for my next blog post, in which I’ll describe more specific mindfulness techniques for preventing weight regain after bariatric (weight-loss) surgery.
With your continued health in mind,
Doreen Lerner, Ph.D.
Director, Institute for Lifelong Weight Management
Creator, The Full Mind Weigh® to Lifelong Weight Management
The Institute for Lifelong Weight Management provides education and training. The Full Mind Weigh® is strictly an educational program and is not a substitute for medical or psychological evaluation or treatment. If you think you may be suffering from an eating disorder, please consult with a qualified mental health professional who is trained to evaluate and treat eating disorders.