Eat When You’re Hungry?

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Eating when you’re hungry, seems like common sense, right? This simple concept might be harder than you think.

I was recently reading a book called, “The Science of Being Well” by Wallace D Wattles where he was discussing the science behind how to be well, or basically living healthy. During this discussion, he said something that although it seemed completely obvious, struck me with some considerable force.

Eat When You’re Hungry

Wallace proclaimed that to know when to eat, one only has to listen to their body (minus the brain, more on this in a minute) for when you feel hungry, then eat. Wallace draws an interesting distinction between when your body feels hungry and when your mind feels appetite.

Hunger versus Appetite

So what is the real difference? I think of it this way… when I go outside and run, clean up around the house, go shopping or spend the day at an amusement park, I am burning calories. Real calories. My body is working and burning the fuel that I have eaten to provide the fuel needed to perform the activity. Wallace wrote his book in 1910, so he used the correlation of working on a farm in the field. This may not apply as much today, but the gist of the idea is that you are truly moving and exerting effort with your body, this is hunger.

Appetite, on the other hand, is what our mind thinks is a good time to eat. Think about this … you ate dinner last night, probably a few hundred, maybe even a thousand or more calories. You went to bed, woke up in the morning and your mind tells you to eat breakfast. Why? You really haven’t done anything. Those calories from dinner hadn’t been burned off, they are still with you. Your mind just “feels” like it’s time, habit … so let’s eat. Right? This is appetite.

Breaking the Appetite

Your mind is a very powerful part of your body. It works non-stop 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year for your whole life, it never takes vacation or days off. It’s time to deal with this fact. The fact is that our minds continually try to convince us to eat, when we aren’t really hungry. So what can we do? Be aware! When you feel like eating something, stop and take an assessment of how you feel. Do you feel your hunger in your body, or is it just your mind trying to convince you to eat?

Be Aware!

I have been practicing, yes practicing this principle for the last few weeks. It takes practice. You don’t just reverse your habits or get control of your mind’s ability to motivate your eating habits over night. I have had to practice, practice and practice the technique of being aware. Every time I decide that I want something to eat, I have to stop and think. I ask myself, “Am I really hungry?”. If I’m not, I find something else to think about and get out of the kitchen or away from food.

I have to admit that making this change has increased my energy, mental awareness and general health. When I do eat, my food tastes so much better. I have never been someone that enjoys their food, it was always a necessary evil. Now, I really enjoy my food, the taste and the process of eating. Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

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