Let’s start with a definition of two terms, hunger and appetite. Hunger is physiological meaning your body senses that you’re not eating enough,and tells you this by signaling your brain to cause you to eat. Appetite, on the other hand is a learned lifestyle or habit. There is a huge difference.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you’re sitting around the house with nothing to do so you make a decision to eat something. This is an example of appetite. You don’t need to eat, you decide to eat. Another example of appetite relates to set meal times. We generally develop the habit of eating at a certain regular times whether we really need to or not e.g. “It’s lunchtime, it’s time to eat”.  

 The trick is to learn to tell the difference between appetite and real hunger and then act on your new knowledge. In most cases when you say you like to eat all the time it’s psychological (appetite) rather than physical (hunger).

Here’s another example of appetie, not hunger. Ever wonder why desserts are always especially sweet or fatty and contain lots of calories? By the end of a typical large meal your body recognizes that you are full and turns off the hunger switch and activates the fullness feeling. Basically, there are four ways it can do this. Your stomach wall has stretch receptors that detect when it is full  or distended and these signal your brain which in turn turns tells you you’re full. The time you spend eating a meal is a factor also. Usually about 20 minutes into a meal your body signals your brain that you’re full. Your body monitors blood sugar level as well and when it reach a level of saturation, it sends a signal your brain to tell you to stop eating. Lastly your brain monitors nutrient levels and unless something is missing in your diet your brain will not direct you to consume more food.

Let’s go back to our examples. Now that your body has turned off the hunger switch, because of one of the four previous reasons tyou will eat more on;ly because you think something will taste good. We know from one of my earlier blog that small amounts of sweet fatty desserts are very dense in calories and therefore taste really good plus they contain lots of calories in small portions.

Try this sometime. Eat a full meal and then decide to eat vegetables or fruit for dessert. It’s not the same.

I have a couple of suggestions that will help you work your way through this. The Number one suggestion is to stay busy. This could be a hobby a job or something you particularly like doing. This will keep your mind off eating, plus activity will burn more calories. Staying busy also will give you a sense of accomplishment and therefore a better sense of self worth. If you have a good self-image you will also have a greater resolve to watch and limit what you eat making it easier to reach your goal.

The Number two suggestion is to start exercising. This not only burns extra calories but puts you in a mindset that strengthens your resolve to control your eating  As a side benefit exercise also creates a sense of well-being beyond anything else you can do physically.

Our bodies are equipped to tell us when were hungry and tell us when were full. When the system works we don’t add extra weight. So listen to your body. Eat slowly, and be aware of your body’s signals. You’ll find that this way you’ll be happier and healthier.

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