Do you eat even though you're not hungry? – 5 tips
Fridge open, fridge closed again... A snack here, a second helping there... Sometimes we eat even though we're not actually hungry. Here you can find out what you can do to prevent this.
Why do I eat even though I'm not hungry?
This can have various reasons. Sometimes we eat out of boredom or tiredness and exhaustion. But we have often lost touch with mindful and intuitive eating. We and our bodies are so used to being able to access food at any time and anywhere that we no longer depend on our feeling of hunger.
This is actually quite a luxury situation we find ourselves in. But it also has the side effect that we eat even though we don't have to. If this happens more often and over a longer period of time, we gain weight or feel heavy, sluggish and lacking in energy.
I'm not a nutritionist and therefore don't want to go too far out on this topic. Nevertheless, I would like to share with you the tips and tricks with which I have learned to listen more to my intuitive feeling of hunger and to snack less for no reason.
1. Correctly assess the feeling of hunger
This first point goes hand in hand with what I mentioned earlier. Finding out whether you are really hungry sounds easy at first. But for many people it's not that easy, for example because you don't have that strong connection with your own body sensations.
Hunger is initially a physical feeling and can be recognized, for example, by a growling stomach. In most cases, the craving for a piece of chocolate or a chip with ketchup and mayo does not arise from hunger but from the psychological desire for food containing sugar or calories.
If you're having trouble determining whether you're actually hungry or just craving food, try eating a piece of fruit. Sometimes just the idea is enough. You quickly notice whether you feel like eating an apple or something similar. If the thought doesn't appeal, then there's a good chance you're not hungry. If so, feel free to grab it.
It can take a while to properly assess your body's signals after being away from them for a long time. In the beginning it is enough to observe yourself, when you eat what and how you feel physically in these moments. This makes it easier to correctly interpret the body's sensations.
2. Get energy through fluids
Instead of eating, you can also use water. Often we are actually much more thirsty than hungry, but we don't know how to properly assess it. In addition, many of us don't drink enough fluids anyway. However, water is very important for the body and should definitely not be underestimated, because a prolonged lack of water can have serious consequences for your health .
Drinking enough can also help you avoid eating too much. Use visual aids like placing a water bottle on your desk or a pot of tea on the coffee table to make drinking easier. If you're not a fan of plain mineral water, you can brighten it up a little with lemon, mint or berries. This can really make a big difference!
So the next time you run to the fridge or want to grab a snack from the pantry, start by drinking a large glass of water, let some time pass, and then check again to see if you're still hungry.
3. Get moving
We get energy through food - after all, food is to our body what gasoline is to a car. So when we feel weak or lacking in energy, we like to reach for food. We know that there are a lot of other ways to get energy again. But food is usually what is easiest to implement or obtain.
I've put together a list of activities that I like to do to get more energy back. At the top are some physical activities that have to do with exercise. Because exercise stimulates our blood circulation and supplies our brain with oxygen. For example, my note says “take a walk,” “dance,” “yoga,” or “stretch.” Maybe jogging, playing with your children or cycling are more suitable for you. After all, each of us enjoys other physical activities.
Then, when I feel uninspired and exhausted, I look at my list and choose a physical activity that I particularly feel like doing or that I can easily do. It's not about squeezing in a one-hour workout or immediately exhausting yourself. Ultimately, you should find something that works for you and is fun for you. A short walk around the block is often enough to feel fitter again. And all without even eating.
4. More meals, fewer snacks
Throughout the day we become tired and of course physically hungry. This often leads to impatience and we grab whatever is closest or easiest to prepare. Unfortunately, this is usually not the most nutritious option.
To avoid eating snack after snack, you have to make a conscious effort to eat something “real.” So instead of first eating a handful of nuts, then cookies and then a yogurt, you can warm up leftovers from the night before or prepare a vegetable wrap.
Prepared meals are more nutritionally balanced than a variety of snacks. Good fats, proteins, vitamins and fiber keep you full longer and keep cravings at bay. Meal regularity can also have a big impact on our snacking habits.
But if you want/need to snack, you can have healthy options ready. My favorite snack for moments like this is various vegetables, which I cut up immediately after buying them and then store in the fridge. All I have to do is take it out of the fridge and dip it into my beloved hummus.
5. Eat mindfully
How often have you eaten while doing something else? Read the newspaper, work on the laptop or watch an episode of your favorite series? The problem is that our brain cannot properly register that we are eating food if we are doing something else at the same time. This makes it more difficult to satisfy our psychological hunger or cravings.
So try to eat less “on the side” and more consciously when you have food in front of you. To do this, sit down at the dining table and pause all other tasks and distractions. Then, as you eat, focus on the different tastes and smells as well as the feeling in your mouth and stomach. This helps the mind and body to consciously process what they have experienced and prevents hunger attacks in the near future.
You can also trick yourself by storing unhealthy snacks out of sight or not shopping at all. Research has shown that we are most likely to eat what we have quickest access to.
Finally, a short nap can also help if you feel weak and would normally reach for food.
Following these (or some of these) tips can help you become more aware of your real, physical feelings of hunger and therefore eat less for no reason. :)
If you would like to find out more about the topics of healthy eating, mindfulness, family & pregnancy or sustainability, take a look here .