Everyday you come in the gym and train your body. Each session you gain strength and endurance allowing you to push yourself harder. A mile run might seem like a marathon your first time in the gym, but after a while, it could easily become a warm up.
We don’t think about training for nutrition goals the same way. When you begin changing your diet it is never easy. When you cut out sugar…you will crave sugar, but each day you focus on what you’re fueling your body with, it will become easier. It becomes a habit—an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.
When we are young hormones, Ghrelin and Leptin, guide our hunger. Levels of Ghrelin rise when your body needs food, while leptin, the satiety hormone, are triggered when you’re full. As an adult, these hormones are not the only factors we rely on to decide when and how much we should eat. Other factors include: emotions, anxiety, stress, social events, boredom, etc.
So how do we train our appetite? Realize that hunger and satiety are ways that your body talks to you and the goal is to be able to listen. With a little training, it will become second nature. Here are your training tips this week:
1. Rate Your Hunger
Monitor your portions and be mindful of where your hunger falls on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being starving and 1 being STUFFED. Attempt to eat when you’re at a 7 or 8 and stop by 3 or 4, when you’re comfortably full.
2. Take Time to Eat
The brain takes 20 minutes to recognize that you’re full, so if you eat on the go or finish meals within five minutes, you can easily over eat. Learn to appreciate your food and slow down when eating. Think about the flavor and the texture of what you’re eating. This will give leptin time to work and help you feel satisfied.
3. Think Before You Snack
If you’re a snacker this tip is for you…Take a step back before reaching for the snack and ask if you’re really hungry. The feeling of hunger might be dehydration or you’re bored or stressed from work. Drink a glass of water or do something quick off your to-do list. If the feeling is still there, grab a healthy snack that you love.
Sleep is another key component to being able to accurately assess hunger. Too little sleep causes the up-regulation of ghrelin, which makes you hungrier, while it lowers the production of leptin.