When it comes to losing weight, one of the biggest obstacles we see with our clients is a lack of awareness around hunger and cues.
Let’s take a step back for a minute and talk about how supremely WISE your body is. It performs millions of amazing tasks every day to keep you alive that you are not even aware of. And one of those tasks is appetite regulation.
To boil it down, there are two main hormones that work in harmony to control how much food you eat. They are ghrelin and leptin.
Ghrelin is what we call the “hunger” hormone. Ghrelin levels are low after a meal, and begin to rise the longer you go without eating. When they reach a certain level, they signal the brain that it’s time to eat.
Leptin is the “fullness” hormone. As you begin eating, ghrelin levels fall and leptin begins to rise. When your body has consumed an appropriate amount of food, leptin will signal your brain to stop eating (which coincides with a feeling of fullness).
But here’s the catch. How often do you ignore those signals? For example, you do:
- Let yourself get so hungry that your ghrelin levels are screaming, so when you start eating, you grab anything in site and then can’t stop
- Eat past the point of fullness, thereby ignoring leptin and taking in more food than your body needs
- Eat when you are not hungry . . . for other reasons like boredom, procrastination, loneliness, happiness, etc, thereby dissing BOTH leptin and ghrelin?
Here are a few ways to get started and gain control of your appetite hormones:
1) Avoid being “over-hangry.” Paying attention to ghrelin means feeding your body when you’re hungry, not famished. There’s a difference. Figure out when this is happening in your day and work backwards to prevent it.
For instance, if you have lunch at noon and dinner isn’t planned until 7, don’t wing it. Your body is likely going to need fuel 3-4 hours after eating to keep blood sugars at bay until your next meal. PLAN to have a healthy snack so you don’t fall prey to a random vending machine or sweets/chips that might be lying around.
2) Stop eating when you are satisfied, not overfull. We know this is much easier said than done and takes practice. One critical strategy to help you do this is to eat very slowly. It DOES take 20 minutes for your leptin levels to rise and signal your brain you’ve had enough to eat.
You simply can’t gauge when this happens if you wolf down your food. Carve out some time to just eat – no cellphone, TV, magazine – you get the picture. Focus only on the eating process. Put your fork down. Chew. Breathe. We can promise you will feel satisfied with much less food than you think you need.
3) Limit processed foods and sugar. We probably sound like a broken record on this, but one more reason to avoid the processed foods and sugar is that these simple carbs have been found to largely bypasses the leptin response. Leptin is released, but the brain is immune to it, as it is more focused on the current taste triggers. Think about how easy it is to plow through a bag of chips without feeling full.
Opting for whole foods with high quality fat and protein, however will send the right signals to the brain so you can get that fullness cue and go on with your day feeling satisfied and energized.
We hope this gave you a little inspiration today! FYI if you struggle with eating cues, hunger, overeating, or anything in between, we have devoted an entire training in our Simply Nourished Solutions Program to putting these tools into practice in the real world. Wanna know more and see if this program is a good fit for you? Click HERE to set up a call to discuss.