Are You Hungry Or Eating Out Of Habit?

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When you look at mindful eating you have to look at and realize that just the opposite can happen too. This “mindless” eating isn’t just unhealthy, it also creates a dangerous relationship with food that can last a lifetime if you’re not careful. Mindful eating focuses on identifying “hunger cues”, signals that you’re actually hungry and your body requires food rather than just eating because you like how something tastes or because you feel like it. Let’s take a look at the different facets of “mindless” eating and how to identify when you’ve stopped eating mindfully.

In order to identify whether or not you’re hungry you need to take a look at the different kinds of hunger you can experience. First there’s natural hunger, it’s when your body is telling you that it needs food or nourishment. The next is thirst hunger which feels like hunger because it’s such a weak bodily mechanism, it can be solved by staying hydrated throughout the day. The last kind of hunger is known as “emotional hunger” and it can be the most dangerous. How often have you been stressed and reached for something to munch on? Emotional hunger is brought on by stress, sadness, anger, or other emotional stressors and often makes you crave specific “comfort foods” that you can scarf down before you even realize it.

More than anything else the bane of weight loss is mindless eating and snacking, or “grazing” as it’s often called. When you’ve got a bowl of popcorn of a bag of chips it’s easy to just reach your hand in and eat a little at a time without realizing it because you’re only having one or two chips or pieces of popcorn. The problem is that one or two and one or two tend to add up really quickly into a whole lot. This is also seen in eating quickly, either due to the nature of food or eating under a time constraint, like when you stop by fast food for lunch and eat a burger and fries in your car at the stop light. Not only is it not good for you but it’s likely not fulfilling either and will leave your body craving real nutrients.

So how do you tell what kind of hunger you’re feeling? Well, mindful eating on the whole helps you to identify that. One of the key concepts is choosing to slowly eat and savor the food you’re eating. Taking your time to chew and enjoy each bite not only lets you enjoy the flavors of your meal (rewarding you for choosing the best and tastiest foods in the process) but also gives your body plenty of time to decide if it wants more or if it’s done eating. Try techniques like putting your fork down between bites and not picking it up again until you’ve swallowed, you’ll start to appreciate how full each bite ends up making you feel.

As you spend more and more time eating mindfully, you’ll find that you’re able to identify whether you’re actually hungry and need it or if you just want that snack because it smells good from across the room. When you can identify your hunger cues by eating slowly and recognizing what your body is trying to tell you, you’ll be able to decide for yourself if you’re hungry or you’re just mindlessly snacking because you feel like you should be having food.

Tips for Eating Out

In the fast paced and busy world we all live in today we don’t always have the luxury and convenience of spending hours in the kitchen to prepare a meal every day. In fact, some of us barely seem to have any time at all to ourselves, which can make it tough to plan even simple meals. Thus it falls to the inevitability that, at least every once in a while, we’re going to have to find somewhere else we can get our food. Whether you’re stopping on the way through for breakfast, grabbing a quick bite to eat for lunch, or taking a load off and going out for dinner, here are some tips for your next meal you decide to eat out.

1. Have nutrition facts handy.

This is important particularly with fast food restaurants. They say that the three key pieces of the food industry are service, speed, and quality and you’re usually going to have to pick two. Fast food is known for its unhealthy meal options, so having a menu with nutrition facts like calories, carbs, and fats can help you quickly root out the good picks from the not so great ones. Lots of fast food places have these on their menus already now or have the info available online, so check your phone while you’re waiting to order and get the info in a hurry.

2. Call ahead.

A lot of places love when you do this anyways. You can call lots of restaurants on your way there and they’ll have your food ready to pick up when you walk in the door. This saves you a ton of time without having to wait in line and decide and then on top of that spend time waiting for them to cook your food. Most places will even tell you your total over the phone and some may even allow you to pay for it over the phone, saving you even more time on your lunch break.

3. Know your local options.

This is important for a couple of reasons. With the availability of easy to access online reviews, you can know everything there is to know about a restaurant before you even set foot in the door. You can get an idea of their customer service, the quality of their food, and even how long you’re going to have to wait for your order (which is important when you’re on a tight schedule). Try to keep a list of your favorite places who have good food and service on standby so you’re not stuck wasting time wondering which place to eat at.

Eating out is an inevitability, but just because you’re eating out doesn’t mean you’re settling! Being a smart shopper and a savvy consumer will help you save time and money on a healthy meal on the go!

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