Drop that fork, if eating's not driven by hunger


November 09, 1993|By Colleen Pierre, R.D. | Colleen Pierre, R.D.,Contributing Writer

Before you eat a meal or a snack or reach for a second helping -- halt. Pay attention to your mood.

Many people put on extra pounds because they eat for reasons other than hunger. In fact, folks often tell me they can't remember the last time they were really hungry. They just eat whenever they feel like it.

Most people get hungry every four hours if they've eaten reasonable meals.

Some people experience hunger as an emptiness. Some get restless and lose concentration. Others feel listless, weak, disoriented and uncoordinated. Some don't recognize these symptoms, then become headachy, irritable and short-tempered.

Taste and smell are sharp while you're hungry, but fade as you eat and become satisfied. Food becomes less interesting, even boring. If you're reading or watching TV while you eat, you might miss these subtle clues to stop.

There's a theory that you'll lose weight if you just cut down on fat. No counting calories. No weighing or measuring food. Eat as much as you want, just choose differently.

Eating when you're angry, lonely or tired signals the need for other solutions.

Anger turned inward may become depression, obesity or an eating disorder. So Before you eat when angry, halt. Confront the right person instead. Or at least figure out why you're angry or who is the true object of your anger. Go for a walk, or to a museum. Cool down, think it through.

Lonely? Reach for a friend instead of food. Chat with a neighbor or family member. Visit a shut-in. Learn western, swing or square dancing. Join a cycling club or singing group.

"Tired" is often mistaken for "hungry." If you fall into food at the end of the day and eat like a wild person out of control, halt. Instead, exercise to relieve your stress and boost your energy levels. Take a nap if you need sleep. Delegate chores, if possible.

Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center and Vanderhorst & Associates in Baltimore.

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