Many behavioral science studies show that people who are attuned to their body’s hunger signals are more successful at managing their weight than people whose eating habits are more influenced by external cues, whether that’s a TV advertisement, what their friend just ordered at a restaurant or some fixed idea about what they should or shouldn’t be doing to lose weight. For many of my patients battling weight issues, not being particularly tuned into their bodies is a fairly common trait, and for those patients, I often encourage them to start rethinking their approach to food, starting with a few baby steps – actually three to be exact. 

First up: quieting the noise around the eating experience. Turn off the TV, the radio and computers. Put the phone on vibrate – or better yet, turn it off altogether at mealtimes. Doing so enables you to focus on the task at hand and really enjoy the colors, the aromas, the flavors – the very act of eating, vs. gulping down meals like your plate’s on fire. Slow things down even further by putting your silverware down between each bite, and take sips of water between bites as well.

By focusing on your food (see, mom was right!), you’ll naturally arrive at the second step – which is to eat more slowly. What’s so great about that? How about virtually effortless weight loss. While the pounds may not leap of your body in 20 pound blocks, eating slowly will give your brain the time it needs to start releasing those all-important satiety hormones that let your belly know it’s had enough – before you hit the over-eating wall.

Last but not least, throughout the day, when hunger pangs strike, learn to tune into what your body’s really saying by getting to know The Hunger/Fullness Scale. It’s a simple tool I use with clients to help them sort out when it’s an appropriate time to have a healthy meal or snack, turning attention to internal cues. Using the scale below, rate your physical hunger. You’re shooting to hit that 3 “sweet spot” throughout the day. 

The Hunger Scale
1 not physically hungry
3 moderate physical hunger/good time to eat 
5 ravenous (uh-oh, anything goes!)
The Fullness Scale
1 not physically satisfied
3 gently satisfied/mind and belly feel sated 
5 discomfort/too full

And remember, these slimming practices take practice, so it time, with a little effort, they will become second nature. For other thoughts on eating consciously, check out (http://www.kathieswift.com/blog/2014/9/9/7-steps-to-a-healthier-you


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