Am I Really Hungry? (Part 3)

February 26, 2014

iStock_000008575905SmallIn Part 1 of this article, we pointed out that there is a difference between true hunger as opposed to cravings and emotional eating.  In Part 2, we talked about emotional eating triggers and how to deal with each of them, which we will now continue discussing.


The Symptoms:
You’re standing in front of the freezer with your hands on the ice cream. Your eyes are glazed over. You take out a spoon and begin eating. Dinner is over and the evening eating has begun.

The Solution:
Stop what you are doing and focus.  We need habits in our lives. Habits help us make it through the day without having to relearn a lot of stuff. That’s the good news. But when we develop bad habits they keep us as prisoners, acting out old scripts without thinking about what we are doing. We get so used to eating ice cream after dinner that we begin to believe we can’t get through the night without it. The first time you do something different than you usually do, it might feel strange. The 10th time you perform your new positive behavior, it will be a habit. Be firm and tell yourself that dinner is over and you are finished eating tonight. Be conscious. You can do it!


The Symptoms:
Are you easily agitated? Do you have aches, pains and tense muscles? Are you getting sick frequently?  Feel like you’ve got a one-shot chance to complete this project and you’re not prepared? Welcome to real life.

The Solution:
Stress is a factor in our modern lives and we start to think that it’s natural. Not only do we blindly begin accepting this stress, but many of us deal with it by overeating. Stress kills. We certainly don’t want to add to our stress by gaining weight and stressing our hearts and bodies. Exercise is a great stress reducer.  If you can find just 20 minutes each day to do some stretching and relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation, you will notice a big difference. DO NOT EAT! Overeating is a stressor all by itself.  We can try to control the factors that stress us, but many times we are caught up in deadlines and other situations that we can’t control.

Real Hunger

Hunger, cravings and emotional eating all end up with the same result- overconsumption of calories, overweight, and down the road, ill health. There are probably multiple reasons why we can no longer rely on the hunger reflex for eating anymore.  Our food is different than it used to be and has addictive properties now, particularly processed foods.  Be mindful in your eating and put your fork down between bites, sip water, and enjoy conversation while you dine.

Here are a few more tips to help you get in touch with real hunger:

  • Exercise portion control. The old expression “your eyes are bigger than your stomach” may be sage advice. Researcher Barbara Rolls at Pennsylvania State University has found that the more food you are served, the more likely you are to overeat.

  • Eat foods that are bulked up with water or air. This gives them more volume and makes them more satisfying. Increasing the bulk in your meals helps fill your belly, signals satiety to your brain, and allows you to feel full on fewer calories. Broth-based soups, stews, hot cereals, and cooked grains are good examples of the foods that go the distance.

  • Fiber can help satisfy hunger and reduce appetite. Choose high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, popcorn, and whole grains. Starting a meal with a large salad can help you eat fewer calories during the meal because of the high fiber and water content in greens and vegetables. Also keep in mind that fresh fruits have more fiber and water than dried ones.

  • Avoid the buffet line. When there are lots of choices, most people eat more. Keep it simple, limit the number of courses, and fill up on the high-fiber foods first.

  • Include lean protein in your meals and snacks. These will help curb your appetite. A handful of nuts, some low-fat dairy, soy protein, or lean meat, fish, or chicken will tide you over for hours.

Being mindful and eating a well balanced diet as opposed to emotional eating will “add hours to their days, days to their years, and years to their lives.”  


Alan Freishtat is an A.C.E. CERTIFIED PERSONAL TRAINER and a BEHAVIORAL CHANGE and WELLNESS COACH with over 19 years of professional experience. Alan is the creator and director of the “10 Weeks to Health” program for weight loss. He is available for private coaching sessions, consultations, assessments and personalized workout programs both in his office and by telephone and skype. Alan also lectures and gives seminars and workshops. He can be reached at 02-651-8502 or 050-555-7175, or by email at Check out the his web site – US Line: 516-568-5027.

The words of this author reflect his/her own opinions and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Orthodox Union.