How to understand your food triggers and find your healthy weight

Have you ever wondered why a new diet is launched every few months?

Nutritionists and dieticians have been voicing their concerns over fad diets for years.

A national survey by the Australian Psychological Society showed that 61% of people trying to change their diet failed to make lasting changes. One in five lapsed back into old habits within a matter of weeks or months. Most of the people making dietary changes relied on willpower and more than half of those surveyed sought no professional help to change their eating patterns.

We need to get away from the glossed over, cosmetic approach to weight loss, this quick-fix marketing mentality fails to address the underlying reasons that cause us to gain weight.

Weight management is very simple in theory. If we consume more energy than we expend we will store any excess as fat. To lose weight we need to burn more calories than we eat. Most diets rely on willpower alone, this automatically sets us up for failure because willpower is a short-term skill.

How many diets have you started? Most of the overweight women I know are highly experienced dieters, you name the diet and they’ve done it. All those restrictive diet plans over the years have managed to switch off their hunger cues. A quick tally up of an eating journal will tell you that many women eat when they are not hungry, and starve when they are.

Most of the excess eating that leads to weight-gain happens when we are tired, stressed, happy, sad or deprived. That is why understanding the triggers that lead to non-hungry eating can be the real turning point in achieving permanent weight loss.

Understand your hunger

There are two types of hunger. True hunger and emotional hunger. True hunger is when your stomach is empty, usually, we get a little cramp or our stomach starts to gurgle. If we ignore true hunger we are more likely to binge or eat too much later on. Emotional hunger is a feeling deep inside that food is going to make us feel better. We do a lot of emotional eating when we are tired or depressed. If you have a habit of emotional eating keep a journal and identify your triggers. Once you learn your triggers you can start to outsmart them.

Manage your triggers

  • Don’t get hungry. You’ll find it difficult to eliminate emotional eating if you are physically hungry. If you frequently visit the pantry or fridge when you get home from work, make sure you don’t arrive home hungry.
  • Don’t eat in the car. You’ll find it hard to enjoy your food while you are busy driving. Your body won’t really register a meal while you are multi-task
  • Always sit down to eat. How many times do we mindlessly eat standing up in the kitchen? Make it a rule to sit down and enjoy food at the table. Use utensils and put them down frequently to slow down your eating. If you want to read or watch TV, wait until you have finished your meal.
  • Use delay tactics. Allow yourself to eat whenever you feel hungry but delay the meal for ten minutes. Use the ten-minute delay to figure out whether you are truly hungry or not. You may be thirsty or tired. A drink of water, a bath or a rest might be what you really need.
  • Have a plan. People who have a plan lose more weight than people who don’t. At the beginning of the week plan what you will be eating and when. Dehydration often mimics hunger, so plan to stay hydrated every day. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip back into old habits.

There is no such thing as perfect eating. Eating for pleasure is a normal part of life. Just focus on having more good days than bad days. Identify your eating triggers and you’ll unlock the secret to your own success. Slip-ups are guaranteed so just pick yourself up and start over.