Are you listening? : Tips to recognizing why you are hungry.

One of the best things that has happened in the last two years is that I began to listen to my body. Perhaps it might be better to say that I began to understand what it was saying. Following the years of listening to the mainstream of low fat, high card rhetoric, combined with a fair amount of insulin resistance, left me truly unable to recognize the simple queues such as hunger and thirst.

Being satiated for longer periods of time and not riding a wave of insulin spikes, made it possible for me to begin to recognize what my body is telling me. That said, as with any relationship, it’s still important to stayed attuned to the message and not become complacent with thinking you always understand.

Communication Breakdown

What I’ve found is that the place where this intra-body communication begins to fails in when extra noise is added into the system. For some, this could be disease, for others, addiction, for me however, this noise is generally in the form of stress.

 

 

 

At least I can recognize that times when I know my hunger is not due to inadequate nutrition or caloric intake, yet I become what I call “snacky”. It’s a combination of increased cortisol and ghrelin production and the body’s increase of dopamine, the feel-good chemical  responsible regulating pleasure and reward in the brain (and also addiction).

 

It’s these times that will test your willpower to it’s max. Here are some tips to reduce stress or emotional eating.

1. Exercise

Physical activity can reduce stress levels, improve mood, and increase focus and concentration. It also promotes the release of endorphins, hormones that create positive feelings in the body.

Choose an activity you enjoy, even if it’s going for a walk, and make it a part of your daily routine. I hope to blog more about the role of exercise in the near future.

2. Socialize

Social relationship generally increase a feeling belonging and self-worth.

Call up an old friend, ask a coworker to lunch or even a mid-day walk, or do something spontaneous with your family.

Healthy activities such as volunteering and joining a gym can expand your social network and give a personal sense of satisfaction that in itself can reduce stress levels.

3. Listen and Explore

When you’re stressed and reaching for more food, ask yourself, “What is causing my stress?” The answers won’t always come easily, but exploration is worth the effort if for nothing else than recognition of the problem.

4. Replace Food

Dopamine, can also be released by doing activities that you enjoy.  Find a hobby, play a game. Find something that truly brings you joy.

5. Sleep

Restful, quality sleep is critically important not only the brain function, but overall body function. If you’ve ever pulled and all-nighter, you may have noticed that besides coffee, the body tends to crave greater amounts of food to compensate. While not as drastic, chronic reduced sleep levels, even by an hour or more a night, can be detrimental to overall health, including eating habits.