Have you ever sat and watched a child eat? Notice anything (besides a huge mess)? We can learn A LOT just by observing and not interfering how a little one eats. They eat slow. They taste their food. They won’t eat unless they’re hungry. They say ” I done” when they’re full. They’ll even push their plate away when they don’t want any more to eat (without being taught that skill).
Be like the child – eat when hungry, stop when satisfied.
Babies, toddlers and little kids tend to eat only when they are hungry. They don’t really eat for reasons other than hunger (unless they are already taught to. Ex: a baby who is given a bottle or food every time they are upset or loud but not hungry will likely learn that eating comforts them when they are upset —> which means they’ll likely eat for comfort as they get older).
Let’s learn from these tiny humans. For example…if a child wants a sweet treat, they won’t finish their meat/potatoes/pasta/veggies so they can eat the treat. Or they eat their meal but might not eat all of the treat. I tend to believe it’s a natural way for them to not feel stuffed. That’s what we want! How to start?? Reference the hunger/fullness scale below every time you think about eating. You need to be a 3 to eat and stop when at a 5 or 6.
If you’re not a 3 on the hunger scale before eating, explore why you want food.
- Bored? <– that’s a biggie.
- Tired? <– another biggie.
- In a routine? What if you usually eat lunch at 11:30a but you’re not hungry at 11:30a?
Write down why you think you’re hungry and go distract yourself until you’re at a 3. A psychologist colleague of mine once said, “boredom is a very uncomfortable feeling, so we tend to fill that feeling with something instead of sitting with the boredom”. And what do we tend to fill the boredom with? Eating.
Figure out why you are eating for reasons other than hunger and deal with it another way. Tired? Go to bed. Bored? Try out that hobby you’ve wanted to pick back up. Lonely? Call up an old friend you haven’t talked to in years. Then, when you are finally a 3, pay attention to that hunger cue and memorize it. Eat the food. Then stop eating when you are satisfied. Likely 3-4 hours later you’ll be hungry again.
I CHALLENGE YOU to go back to your natural roots and eat mindfully, like a child, for 3 weeks.
If that seems too long, try it just for 3 days. This takes TIME to remaster, trust me. The more you pay attention to your hunger/fullness cues, the easier it gets. Don’t beat yourself up if you eat until you’re 7 or 8 every now and then. Just listen to your body the next day. You might find you’re not as hungry as the day before and that’s OKAY! The body has amazing ways of regulating itself if we listen to it. Eat when hungry, stop when satisfied. The end.