Sunday, July 12, 2009
You should eat when you’re hungry. It’s that simple. The trick is in learning how to know when you’re actually hungry, and when you want to eat because you are tired, bored, stressed out, or just craving food. This is actually harder than it sounds for many people. After years, perhaps decades of eating for the wrong reasons, you may have to train your body to recognize hunger again. Hunger usually involves stomach pinches, pains, or growling. If your stomach isn’t growling, you’re probably not really hungry. But this isn’t always indicative of hunger. Sometimes you may feel food moving around in your stomach from your last meal, and this may mimic very closely the feeling you have when you’re hungry. Before you rush to eat after your stomach starts growling, wait just a little while to see if the growling subsides. If it doesn’t go away in 10-15 minutes, or if you feel weak or jittery, it’s probably true hunger. If the growling goes away, it might have been the feeling of food being digested. I suggest eating several smaller meals per day rather than 3 large ones. When you eat smaller meals, you can help boost your metabolism. The more often your body is consuming food, the faster your metabolism will become. You see, your body will digest food slowly to make the energy it gets from food and the full feeling last as long as possible if it thinks it isn’t getting enough food. When you’re consuming a lot of food regularly, it realizes that there is an abundance of food, and it will respond by digesting food quickly and giving you plenty of energy. I don’t recommend waiting a certain amount of time between meals. Ideally you’ll be eating every 2-4 hours, just small amounts, but you may need to eat an hour after a meal, of you may not feel hungry for 4-5 hours. Just learn to listen to your body’s own hunger signals. You should aim for eating smaller, almost snack-sized meals about 4-6 times per day. Eating three meals per day will mean you’re eating more at each meal. This can spike your blood sugar and cause you to crash, leading to cravings when you’re not actually hungry. Eating a lot at one meal can also cause you to experience something commonly known as “food coma”. This is mostly caused by eating a large amount of food at one time, especially foods that are high in refined carbohydrates. It takes a lot of energy to digest food. It can be especially taxing when your blood sugar spikes and crashes. This causes energy to be diverted from other systemic functions, causing your brain to feel “foggy”, and the rest of your body to feel weak and tired. While the tryptophan in turkey can indeed cause sleepiness, it is probably mostly the “food coma” effect that causes you to feel so tired and sluggish after a holiday meal. Thanksgiving and other holiday meals are usually very high in carbohydrates and sugar, and people tend to overeat at these meals. The same thing can happen to you anytime you eat a large meal, especially one that is high in refined carbohydrates. When you eat smaller, lighter meals, you will feel energized after eating, rather than tired and run-down. Remember, the primary goal of eating smaller meals throughout the day is to keep your metabolism charged up. The higher your metabolism, the faster the weight will melt off.