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To Eat or Not To Eat?

When I meet with clients, one of the first things we typically work on is identifying hunger cues. Although we are all born with the innate inner guidance of when we are hungry and when we are satiated, we often lose touch with these cues as we get older as a result of the food environment we grow up in, dieting, and forcing ourselves to eat by certain rules or patterns.


What are hunger cues?

Hunger cues are a set of physical and psychological signals that tell us when we need to eat. These cues are essential for maintaining a healthy diet and preventing overeating or undereating. By learning to recognize our own hunger cues, we can better understand our body’s needs and respond accordingly.


Physical hunger cues include feelings of emptiness or hunger pangs in the stomach. These sensations are caused by the release of the hunger hormone ghrelin, which signals the brain that it’s time to eat. Other physical cues may include low energy/fatigue, headaches, low mood, and shakiness.


Psychological hunger cues are less obvious but can be just as important. These cues may include cravings for specific foods, thoughts about food, or even feelings of boredom or stress. It’s important to recognize these cues and address them appropriately, as emotional eating can lead to unhealthy habits. This is where my clients often do a lot of the work because we are often taught to ignore these psychological or emotional hunger cues or to label eating for these reasons as "bad."





How to start identifying your cues

To better understand your hunger cues, try keeping a food diary for a week. Record what you eat, when you eat, and how you feel before and after eating. This can help you identify patterns in your eating habits and recognize both your physical and emotional hunger cues cravings.


It’s also important to listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry, rather than relying on strict meal times or external factors such as advertisements, social pressure, or even the time of day. Eating slowly and mindfully can help you better recognize your fullness cues, allowing you to stop eating when you’re satisfied rather than overeating. Allowing for cravings and emotional eating, in a safe and conscious way, is also important in honoring your body.


Takeaways

Recognizing and responding to your hunger cues is an essential part of maintaining a healthy relationship with food and your body while. preventing overeating or undereating. By listening to your body and eating mindfully, you can better understand your body’s needs and achieve a healthier relationship with food.


For support in this process, reach out to us to schedule an appointment with a registered dietitian!

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