Guest Article: Are You Really Hungry?

This guest article about is about asking yourself if you’re really hungry when you want a snack. The following guest article and photos are provided by by Jilisa Ghareeb.

After a very scientific survey (on Facebook so it’s legit) and 49 out of 55 people said that they eat when they are bored.  And I bet that for those 49 that many of them are not really hungry when they find themselves eating.

What does bored mean anyway? The dictionary says, “feeling weary because one is unoccupied or lacks interest in one’s current activity.”  It does not mean that we are not doing something, it means that we lack interest, or we are not stimulated. Which is why for example we will eat while we are watching tv.  That does not necessarily mean we do not have an interest in the tv show but it is not stimulating our brain the way it needs too, so we want to add to the stimulation.

We live in a society that thrives on thrill, adrenaline rushes and constant movement (even true during a pandemic). Everything is available to us in mere moments and right at our fingertips. We are constantly overstimulated.  When we do finally take a moment and slow down (by our choosing or not), most of us do not know what to do.  Our brains are not stimulated, and we find ourselves to be bored.  Next thing we know we are reaching for the chips, pretzels, cookies, or anything we can get out hands on.  From the moment we touch the food right to the moment it is in our stomach our brain is doing a happy dance (endorphins have been released and you are momentarily happy)! That moment can last for an instant or maybe an hour and afterward we may no longer feel happy maybe even guilty (about the food we just ate).  The good news is we can change this. The bad news is there is no easy button and for most of us we are going to have to put in a bit of work.

The first thing we need to do is look at ourselves and document when we are eating and what we are doing when we are eating.  What happens next is going to vary from person to person.  A good recommendation is to keep a journal with you (paper or smartphone, its’ up to you) and as you reach for that snack stop your hand and start your brain.

As you are documenting the time, what you are doing and what you were going to grab to eat. Ask yourself “Am I really hungry right now?”  “Why do I want to eat right now?”  When we are truly hungry our gut talks to our brain saying, ‘Feed me”.  No really, that is what happens, get ready for some scientific nerdy talk!  Our gut releases a hormone called ghrelin and that sends a signal to the brain via the vagus nerve and that releases another hormone called neuropeptide Y, which is a hormone secreted by the hypothalamus to stimulate hunger.  The hypothalamus is what controls our appetite.   Our gut talks to our brain (feed me Seymour!).  What we are possibly feeling (physically) is a feeling of emptiness in our stomach, some will feel and hear their stomach growling, a slight headache, the inability to focus and low energy.  Of course, these symptoms can be triggered by other things going on with your body but if you have not eaten in a while chances are you are hungry.  If it has only been a couple hours since you have eaten then you may want to check yourself before you grab those carrots, bag of chips or sandwich.

Another question to ask is “How will I feel after I eat this?”  If you know that eating this food at this time and during this situation will inflict feelings of guilt and displeasure, please set the food down and step away.  We should not eat or drink anything that will make us feel guilty (whether immediately or hours later).  We want to be able to enjoy a treat but when we eat when we are bored, we are using the food to replace emotions.  Think about those endorphins that make us happy that were mentioned earlier.

If you cannot answer the question of the moment, do not eat anything.  Grab a glass of water and walk away from the cupboard or fridge!  Think about the last time you ate, listen to your body for just a moment. If you are not feeling any physical signs of hunger, try playing with a fidget spinner or a stress ball. Grab a pencil and paper and write out your thoughts.  Sometimes doing something with your hands will stimulate your brain and keep you from snacking.  You could also work on a puzzle or read a book to divert your attention away from the kitchen.  Another great idea is to go for a walk or to play with your kids outside.  Fresh air and movement do wonders for you.  Those endorphins will kick into high gear for sure (party time in your brain)!

There are times when it will take just mere minutes for the temptation to eat to go away.  Other times it will take a bit longer for that feeling to dissipate and you will have to keep yourself busy.  We must understand that this is partly an old comfortable habit and in order to change we need to get uncomfortable.  Most of us do not like to be uncomfortable.  The way we eat, how we eat and when we eat has so much to do with our mindset. A mindset that has been with us for many years.  We need to allow ourselves time to change and give ourselves a bit of grace when we have a step back in our journey.  If we continue to put in the work, we will continue to grow and change.  Every victory we have and acknowledge will make us stronger and make the next time seem a teensy bit easier.

Jilisa Ghareeb has been a Beachbody coach for 5 years.  Her favorite part of being involved with fitness and nutrition is watching her clients change and open up a whole new world.  As a coach she, is able to help others by introducing them to a change that is often scary, intimidating and full of “what ifs” to an encouraging and inspirational lifestyle full of “I cans”. She uses her own story to show others that everything is possible with hard work and determination.  If you’re interested in reaching out to Jilisa for more information you can contact her via email, on Instagram,  or Facebook.

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