Eating, like anything else we do several times per day, becomes a habit. And like any other habit, it can be incredibly difficult to change without actively thinking about it throughout the day.
If anyone’s like me, remembering to change something is half the battle. I tried to lose weight dozens of times but always failed on day one partially because I would tell myself, “okay, today is day one!” and in the same breath, “ooh, somebody brought donuts to work! I’ll have two!”
In the initial stages of change, part of the struggle is willpower, the boulder against which we push to change our ways. The other part is simply remembering that it is, in fact, go-time.
My one successful time in history (I’ve been at it over 5 months so far) was partially because of what I did to remember to eat better: I wore a bracelet. I had found it laying somewhere in my house; I had probably picked it up at a trade show or on the pavement at a parade.
It said, “One Day At A Time.”
I don’t usually wear bracelets, I don’t like the sensation of something on my wrist. So every time I would start to forget what I was trying to accomplish, the constricting sensation on my wrist would remind me.
After those couple of weeks, I felt comfortable enough to take the bracelet off. I only ate when hungry, and stopped when full. I feed my body when it needs to be fed, and stop when it’s satisfied. This is called intuitive eating and it certainly takes practice.
I used to eat when I was bored, or sad, or happy, or angry, or nervous. Other than reminding me of the fact that I was eating better in general, that bracelet reminded me to ask myself: “are you really hungry right now, or are you just bored/sad/nervous?”
This would allow me a moment’s thought: Am I hungry? I guess not. Rule of thumb: If you’re not hungry enough to eat broccoli (or whatever food you don’t like but is necessary for a healthy body), then you’re not hungry.
Most of the time I’d say, no, I’m not hungry. But I learned to recognize the signs of actual, physical hunger:
- Growling stomach
- Empty feeling
When I eat, I eat slowly so I can take some time to appreciate my food. I turn off the TV, the cellphone is out of my hand, and my focus is on my food and my food alone. I appreciate the texture, the smell, the taste of every bite. I think about how this particular food I’m eating is going to help my body.
By eating slowly, I recognize when I’m satisfied. I never eat to be full. By the time I’m full, I’ve eaten too much. I sip water between bites to help add volume to my stomach, as well. Feeling satisfied means that I’m not full but I’m no longer hungry. My stomach has stopped growling, and I have enough energy to go on with my day.
If you eat until you’re satisfied, you will likely be hungry again in a few hours - and this is fine, but again, determine whether you’re really hungry, and learn to recognize when you’re satisfied. It helps to plan out several small meals throughout the day, so you’re never too hungry, and much less likely to eat too much.