APPETITE AWARENESS: UNDERSTANDING HOW MUCH FOOD IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Are you struggling to understand how much food is enough for you? Whether you’re trying to lose weight or fuel for a particular sport, it’s important to be in tune with your body so that you’re getting the right amount of energy though the food you eat. Appetite awareness is another method in how we can understand how much food you should eat.
Have you ever paid close attention to how you feel after you’ve eaten a healthy or even an unhealthy meal? Learning to intuitively understand your body can be the key to unlocking what and how much food is best for you. Because we’re all different and react differently to foods, figuring out what’s best for you only makes sense in the long term. We’ve got a timeline below to help you understand appetite awareness.
WHY USE THIS METHOD?
There are a number of reasons why appetite awareness is a method that should be used in mindful eating.
First, counting calories and macros aren’t always accurate. Gasp! You were probably reading the paragraphs above and thinking it would be much easier to just count calories or count macros, right? The truth of the matter is that calories listed on a nutrition label represent an average of how many calories are in that food. There is no exact way to measure how many calories there are in a food so that number represented could be plus or minus by about 20%. That’s a pretty big margin for error!
Second, calorie counting and macronutrient counting can only be as accurate as what your body absorbs. Have you ever heard the term, “you are what you eat”? It’s true to a degree. You are what you absorb is much more accurate. We don’t know the exact amount of nutrients that we absorb when we eat a certain food. Again, absorption, like calorie counting can vary. Absorption depends on digestion, hydration, the food itself among other things.
Third, not everyone likes to count “things”. For many, calorie counting or macro counting is overwhelming or almost seems like too much information. For others, it’s downright boring and mundane. Totally understandable! That’s why understanding your behavior is so important. After all, it’s behavior that helps us reach any goal, right? So why not use behavior to help us eat as healthy as we possibly can?
HOURLY GUIDE: UNDERSTANDING APPETITE AWARENESS
Have you ever wondered how you should feel after a meal that’s in balance and portioned correctly for you and when you should be hungry again? Our feelings of fullness and hunger can be a great indicator as to whether we’re eating too much or too little.
Follow the hourly guide below to determine if you’re eating too much or too little.
0 – 1 Hr After Your Meal – You may still be a little bit hungry. It may take 15 to 20 minutes to get a sense of satisfaction. Wait it out to see whether or not you’re hungry and if after 20 minutes you are still having feelings of hunger, go for more food.
1 Hr After Meal – You should feel satisfied with no hunger or desire to eat another meal. If you’re truly hungry (not just feelings of digestion), you may not have eaten enough at your last meal.
2 Hr After Meal – At this point, you may start to feel a bit hungry like you might be able to eat something but you’re hunger feeling is not overwhelming. If your hunger feeling is strong or overwhelming, you probably did not eat enough or ate too many carbohydrates at your last meal.
3 Hr After Meal – Now, you should feel like it’s time to eat. Your hunger level should be around 7 or 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 would be the hungriest you’ve ever been). Your hunger may vary at this point based on if you’ve exercised or not and what your daily physical activity level has been like. This is generally a good time for a small balanced snack if you feel like you need one. *If you aren’t hungry yet at hour three, you likely had too much food at your previous meal.
4 Hr After Meal – If you’re quite hungry, like nothing is getting between you and the kitchen, you may not be balancing your meals and/or snacks appropriately. You may be leaving too much time in between meals/snacks without eating or making poor choices (too many carbohydrates, not enough protein or not enough fat).
PUTTING IT INTO ACTION
To journal or not to journal – this is totally up to you! Like I said earlier in this post, some people don’t like to track “things”. If that’s you, then you might need to make mental notes. If you’re a tracker and you want to dig into appetite awareness, check out the information below.
The best way to put this method into action is to journal how you are doing with your meals and snacks. You’ll want to jot down your meals and how you feel based on the timeline above for each meal snack. Here are some details you’ll want to include:
What you ate + how much – include protein, carbohydrates, vegetables, fruit, fats and how much of each of those that you had.
When you ate – time of day.
Drinks – what did you drink with your meal or snack and how much?
How you felt afterwards – how did you feel 1 hour, 2 hours and 3 hours after you ate? Did you feel hungry, lethargic, full of energy, have digestive issues, on top of the world?
Think of journaling this information as your own personal map or guide into what works for your body.
Check your journal every few days to see if you notice any patterns in how much food you ate, what you ate and what you drank. In addition, notice the timing and how you felt. Are you feeling especially energy less after you eat certain meals or at certain times of the day, for example? Do you feel like you could run a marathon after certain foods? Good or bad, this information provides you with data that you can use to help yourself feel your best, perform your best and look your best (because we all know a glowing body starts from the inside).
Check out our Balanced Eating Journal for appetite awareness tracking: Balanced Eating Journal
If you need personalized guidance with how you eat, specific health and wellness goals or performance goals, check out our Health & Wellness Coaching. We’d love to help! Or join us for a wellness retreat to jumpstart your healthy habits. I hope you enjoyed this blog post. Please leave any comments or questions in the comment section below. We love to help! - Margot
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