Hilton Head Health logo
Wellness Wednesday: The Mindful Eating Challenge
April 2, 2016

Are you ever tempted to top off your vehicle’s gas tank, you know…to round out the dollar amount? According to the environmental protection agency, this is a bad idea. Just like overfilling our stomachs, it fouls up the system and wastes energy.

Much like the nozzle, which automatically shuts off when the gas tank is full, your body is equipped with a control system. It’s called hunger, and you were born with all the necessary equipment. As a baby, you knew exactly when and how much to eat. (I witnessed this miracle recently with my newborn grandson. Believe me. He knows when he’s hungry and when he’s not, and he lets everyone else know, too!)

You see, the system is regulated by the hypothalamus in the brain. When you have had enough food to satisfy the body’s need for fuel, signals are sent to the hypothalamus, registering satiety. When you are in tune with your body, you will recognize the “click,” which means “stop eating.”

Somewhere between birth and adulthood, many people lose touch with their hunger signals. The indicators are still there, but we have been topping off the tank for so long that we no longer feel the click. It takes approximately 20 minutes for fullness to transmit from the stomach back to the brain. So, if we eat too fast or if we are distracted, we may miss the sign.

Assuming that you haven’t been racing through or multi-tasking during meals, other body signals, habits, and/or emotions can override your hunger and fullness gauge. Blame it on processed foods, a busy lifestyle or well-meaning adults who taught you to clean your plate… Identifying the triggers and dealing with them appropriately is a huge step in the process of resetting the system and restoring trust in your body’s wisdom.

If topping off the tank has added up to extra weight, a coach and/or counselor can help. Reconnecting with your innate hunger signals and relearning to eat intuitively will lead to the healthiest weight for your body.

Vote for H3 pop up