We over-eat for a variety of reasons including stress, boredom, comfort, social pressures and the simple fact that food is EVERYWHERE! Over the years our plates have gotten bigger and it seems our appetites have grown to match. But is that true? Do we eat more because we’re hungrier than we used to be?
In part, we could be hungrier because we eat more GMO food, processed food, and sugar than ever in history and these things affect appetite; but that’s only part of the problem. I believe a big reason we over-eat has to do with a change in our perception of what it means to be “full.” Do you think you’re full when you’re satisfied or are you full when you’re slightly uncomfortable? And, by the way, how do you define “satisfied?” This isn’t a game of semantics. It’s about the messages you send yourself everyday. It’s about your appetite thermostat.
Look at the 1-10 scale below:
- Starving (no food for days, think of third world circumstances)
- Extremely hungry (hiked uphill for 3 hours and only to realize we left the lunch in the car)
- Hungry (stomach growling, sense of urgency to eat)
- Slightly hungry (feeling empty, could definitely eat something)
- Neutral (no sense of fullness or hunger)
- Satisfied (but room for more, could still go for a run)
- Slightly full (if I eat more, I’ll regret it, wouldn’t want to run but could go for a hike)
- Full (but boy was it good! I’ll feel better in an hour. Maybe I’ll take a Tums)
- Extremely full (a nap would be good, need to loosen my belt, not feeling so good)
- Stuffed (Thanksgiving after the third piece of pie. I feel terrible, can’t believe I did that again)
This scale represents your appetite thermostat. Just like some people like to keep the temperature in their homes at a cozy 74 all winter while other people are comfortable at 68, some people like to eat until an 8 or 9 while other people stop at 6 or 7.
When do you stop eating? What’s your number?
If you want to maintain your current weight you should rarely go past 7. If you’re trying to lose weight, you should stop at 6. (Avoid 8,9 and 10. Too much stress for your digestive system.)
Three tips to help you stop sooner:
If you consciously work on eating less for the entire month, you will reset your appetite thermostat. It’s a habit you’ll be happy to keep. Good luck!