Eating when you are hungry is the first step to eating intuitively, and it's much easier said than done. There's nothing wrong with sitting down for a bite when you're feeling hungry. The trick is knowing when you're really hungry -- and when you're just bored or emotional. The average person gets hungry every three to five hours, so use that timeline as a guide when you're starting out.
If you're a member of the Clean Plate Club, this step may be difficult for you. Train yourself to eat until you are no longer hungry instead of until you've finished what's on your plate. To help you become more aware of how full you are, eat slowly. After every few bites, set your fork down and sit back for a moment to really think about whether or not you need to eat more. Eating until you're stuffed is a bad habit and it's hard to break. It's OK to gorge on a special occasion, but remember not to eat like it's Thanksgiving every day.
Most of the latest diets teach us to stay away from certain food groups, and those groups we avoid are often the ones that fill us up. You've probably heard of the "no carbs" method of dieting where you avoid carbohydrates completely. While this may be an effective way to drop a few pounds quickly, it's not a good way to maintain a healthy weight or lifestyle. Carbs and proteins fill you up and help you go longer between meals. Without them, you'll be making another trip to the kitchen in no time at all. Choose lean proteins and whole wheat carbs to keep you fuller longer and give you the energy you need to get through the day.
If you're craving a certain food, eat it! You can eat all the salads you want, but you're not going to stop thinking about that ice cream sundae until you eat an ice cream sundae. The key is to eat a small portion -- just enough to satisfy that craving. You'll find that if you eat what you want when you want it, you'll probably eat a healthy portion. If you put it off for as long as you can, you're more likely to gorge on it when you finally cave in.
The diet police start in on us at a pretty early age, so by the time we're adults we tend to define ourselves by what we eat. We're "good" on days we stick to our diets and have low calorie counts, and "bad" on days when we give in to dessert or have a second helping of dinner. Ending this unhealthy relationship with food is a big step toward eating intuitively.
Keep a food diary to help you notice your eating patterns and what drives your needless snacking.
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