Ever shovel one overloaded fork of food into your mouth after another, barely taking a breath until the plate is clean? 

Ever wondered how you could consume so much without even being hungry? What's happened to our appetites? Are they in control of us? They haven't always been: did you know that into the first few years of life we actually have an inbuilt ability to regulate our energy intake? Seems if we honour this our children tend to have better appetite control down the track. 

There's a clue to healthy eating right there! I'm thinking of a close family member, struggling to lose those extra kilos after her two children, frustrated at having failed one diet after another, guilt ridden each time she opens the fridge and sees those chocolate bars begging to be eaten, utterly despondent that her body has morphed into something so unfamiliar.

Food needs to be associated to nourishment, to sustenance, to health.

“Eat less, cut back, skip meals, avoid eating out" became her mantra. Even still she couldn't refuse finishing up the kids meals (waste not, want not), or downing every last morsel on her plate and thinking 'yum, I'll have a bit more of that', or devouring the whole pack of French cheese with crackers, the list goes on. 

She was initially aware of eating to the point of discomfort. But as the months and years went on, it became the new norm, rarely was it consciously mentioned, but more often did it occur. But there is a simple change everyone can make. “All I have changed is my plate, I have lost three kilos and to be honest I didn't even do it for that reason, I just wanted to see how I would feel eating smaller portions. I'm pumped! I had no idea how much I actually ate. I thought I ate normal portions. I get it now, why I have to think about how hungry and full I am, my eating used to be totally disconnected from my body". What's she got? Appetite awareness. 

It's time we reconnect with food in a positive way. It strikes me as funny that the very thing that sustains us, gives us life and keeps us healthy is viewed in such negative ways. We have dissembled food into numbers of this and that. Food needs to be associated to nourishment, to sustenance, to health, to a life well-lived. Let's start with some super simple tips; remembering it's far more motivating to do something that is achievable and not stressful.

  • Rate your hunger before you dish up your meal or go back for more. I repeat: before dishing up. Your eyes will distort the truth.
  • Satiety, that lovely feeling of being comfortably full is our end goal. The key is 'comfortable'.
  • Avoid eating past the comfortably full stage. Allow 20 minutes between helpings to allow your brain to tell your body you have had enough.

For some of us the disconnect between hunger and satiety is so great that we have all but forgotten what it feels like to eat because of hunger instead of desire. Just checking in on your hunger and satiety can go a long way to reconnecting with food.

Don't diet, it simply is contrary to human physiology and psychology. The more we restrict, punish, fail, the more we want, feel bad, set ourselves up. Do something positive, for food is positive, we just have to have a better relationship with it! 

Visit the Change the Way You Eat website or Cadence Health for more information.

Buy Change the Way You Eat: The Psychology of Food