“How much should I be eating?” That’s a question that I hear a lot. And here’s a super-simple way to answer that question, without dieting, and without weighing anything or counting points. You can lose weight, without worrying, and almost without trying. Here’s how.
In modern society people tend to eat for many reasons, such as habit, a treat, for celebration, comfort, distraction, politeness or just because we like it. In many ways we sometimes lose touch with the needs of our bodies, and how the body communicates its needs to us. In this case, in the form of feeling hungry.
Going back to basics, the real reason for eating is to give your body the fuel it needs to provide you with all the energy you need to go about the business of your day, whether that be sitting at a desk, or running a marathon.
Your body will need different amounts of fuel, for different activities, and on different days for many reasons, such as natural cycles and rhythms that the body goes through and the weather. The trick is to listen to your body and eat according to what it is telling you. This may sound difficult, but don’t worry. You can learn how to do this with a little practice.
I call being hungry, being in “The Hunger Zone”. It’s all about tuning in to your body and its needs for ‘fuel’, just like a car. Lets take a look at the Fuel Gauge:
As you can see, the Fuel Gauge is a diagram that represents the amount of fuel in your body, just as a fuel gauge for a car shows the level of fuel in the tank.
Take a look now, where are you on the Fuel Gauge at this moment? Try to think about where you are on the gauge next time you go to eat something. This principle is about working your way towards being at the right place (on the gauge) at the right time (when it’s time to eat). This will mean that your body is using the fuel you are feeding it, and will not be laying down spare fuel in the form of fat.
Starting with the needle pointing straight up in the Fuel Gauge, this is where you are Peckish i.e. just starting to think about being a little hungry. This is the starting point of the Hunger Zone. If, when you are about to eat, the needle on your Fuel Gauge is not at Peckish or to the left (i.e. more hungry), then you really should reconsider whether you should be eating right now.
Moving to the left towards empty on the gauge, we next reach Ready for a Meal, this is the ideal place to be when sitting down to eat. The next point is Hungry. This is the most hungry point of the Hunger Zone. When you reach the point of Hungry, and your tummy starts rumbling your body is telling you that it needs you to eat something. If you have a while to wait before your next meal, then a small snack such as a banana might be a good idea to bridge the gap before meal time. It is important to try not to go over the line towards Starving as this is the ‘danger zone’, where you are reaching the point where instinct will take over, and you will be tempted to reach for whatever food becomes available (e.g. chocolate bars and crisps in the filling station). This is beyond the point at which you can reasonably be expected to be in control. Once you pass Hungry, instinct will be in control, and you are much more likely to eat too much and probably unhealthily too. So, the best place to be when meal time arrives, is in the Hunger Zone.
You may find that you are at Not Hungry when your meal time arrives. In this case it is up to you whether you eat or not. Remember this is not a diet, and there are no hard and fast rules. However, you may need to engineer your meals the following day, so that you are hitting the right spot on the Fuel Gauge when meal times come round. It will probably take some trial and error, and adjustments according to your activities. Persevere and it will get easier.