During my health coaching certification studies at The Health Coach Institute, I learned many powerful tools. As with all of the tools and information I share, I must first remind you of the ground rules: your transformation is only 20% information and 80% action. For this tool, or any other to be effective in your health and wellness journey you must learn it and then make it part of your daily plan to use it. The more consistently you use these tools, the sooner they will become a habit and transform your health and wellness.
This particular tool, ‘honoring your hunger and fullness’ is one that is easy to incorporate into your everyday life and will make an immediate and long-lasting positive impact on your health and wellness. It’s so simple in fact that you might not believe it will make such a big difference, so let me first explain why it’s so powerful.
In America, we are known for our BIG PLATES. In every other civilized country, the more traditional fare consists of smaller plates, smaller portions and more of a ‘family share’ mentality. When you dine out in America we have several servings, from appetizer to soup and salad, to meal and dessert, and each portion is much larger than any amount we need to be fully satisfied.
However, we have grown accustomed to these portion sizes and so we dutifully eat ‘everything on our plate’ because that’s what our parents told us we had to do as we were growing up. Well, consider where that has lead us. Many Americans are faced with being overweight or even obese, an epidemic that is growing each day. There are many contributing factors such as sugar consumption and unmanaged stress, but one of the main culprits is how we eat, and how much we eat.
Let’s discuss ‘how we eat’ for a minute. For many people, most meals are had out of necessity – meaning you get hungry so you need to eat. The problem is many are busy at work or taking care of kids and so we end up eating when we’re practically ‘starving’. Now, not only do we make poor diet choices (since all we want to do is tame our hunger), but we also eat too fast, which creates another set of problems with our digestion.
In this ‘starving’ mode we scoff down our food eating whatever we can find, not pausing to consider it’s health benefits or lack thereof. Because we were so hungry, we eat as much as possible and as fast as possible…does that sound familiar?
You have just broken every healthy eating rule in the book, not to mention the added stress you’ve created which will only make it impossible to digest your food. UUUGGGHH!
- You waited too long to eat.
- You ate too fast.
- You ate too much!
Now you’re stuffed, maybe feeling lethargic or bloated, and quite possibly a little guilty. This cycle if repeated often enough will lead to a great deal of weight gain, and bring along all sorts of other unhealthy side effects.
If this is something you struggle with then the ‘honoring hunger and fullness tool’ can be very helpful. The basic premise for this tool is to recognize when your body is getting hungry and then listening to your body, as well as recognizing when you are satisfied and honoring that as well.
To illustrate this, imagine that you have a hunger scale from 1 to 10, 1 being not hungry and 10 being starving. Now picture that your hunger ignites at a number 2 on the scale. From now on, your goal is to recognize as soon as your hunger has ignited. Learn to honor this signal, and then plan to eat before your hunger goes above a 4 on the scale.
In a similar pattern, learning to understand when your body is satisfied and stopping at that point is just as important. On the fullness chart, the number 10 represents being ‘stuffed’. Think about how many times you’ve eaten and then expressed that you feel ‘stuffed’. Well, our new goal is to stop when we feel satisfied, which is a feeling you reach on your hunger chart when you are at number 8 on the scale.
To know when to stop eating or when you are satisfied will require you to slow down and actually chew your food. It’s estimated that on average, most people chew their food only 3 times before gulping it down. That’s absolutely terrible! Not only does it make your body work much harder to digest the food, but you also not receive the same amount of vitamins and nutrients as you would from food that is chewed 15 times or more (digestion starts in the mouth!).
Now that you have slowed down, you can feel when your body is satisfied. You’re not stuffed, you’re no longer hungry, but hey, you may actually still have food on your plate. If you’re eating out, and you most likely received an ‘American’ sized portion, there’s a good chance that they’ll be food on your plate when you reach the points of satisfaction. This is where you stop, you put your utensils down, put your napkin on your plate and smile knowing that you have honored both your hunger and fullness. If you’re eating at home, you may begin to understand what portion is right for you, and eat smaller portions or use a smaller plate to control your portions.
When I coach you, I work through all of these concepts and give you tools like a ‘magic plate’ to show you how big a portion of each type of food is best for a healthy meal.
To learn more about honoring hunger and fullness and how to integrate this approach to your healthy lifestyle, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a free discovery session at www.UpLevelLiving.com.