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Am I Really Hungry?

5 ways to get in touch with your appetite

More Mindful Eating continued...

It helps to slow down and enjoy your meals, like they do in France. Sit down, turn off the television, and create a peaceful environment free of distractions to take pleasure in your meals.

Keep in mind that the first few bites are always the best (your taste buds soon become less sensitized to the chemicals in food that make it taste so good). Focus on the quality of the food, not the quantity. Be mindful of each mouthful, and appreciate the flavors, aromas, and textures of the food.

Enjoying leisurely meals gives your stomach time to signal your brain that you are comfortably full. Put your fork down between bites, sip water, and enjoy conversation while you dine.

Deal With Your Hunger

Here are some more tips to help you get in touch with real hunger:

  • Exercise portion control. The old expression "your eyes are bigger than your stomach" may be sage advice. Researcher Barbara Rolls and her colleagues at Pennsylvania State University have found that the more food you're served, the more you're likely to eat. The theory is that the environmental cues of portion size override the body's cues of satisfaction.
  • Eat foods that are bulked up with water or air, which gives them more volume and makes them more satisfying. Increasing the bulk in your meals helps fill your belly, signals satiety to your brain, and allows you to feel full on fewer calories. Broth-based soups, stews, hot cereals, and cooked grains are good examples of the foods that go the distance.
  • Fiber can help satisfy hunger and reduce appetite. Choose high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, popcorn, and whole grains. Starting a meal with a large salad can help you eat fewer calories during the meal because of the fiber and water content of greens and vegetables. Also keep in mind that fresh fruits have more fiber and water than dried ones.
  • Avoid the buffet line. When there are lots of choices, most people eat more. Keep it simple, limit the number of courses, and fill up on the high-fiber foods first.
  • Include lean protein in your meals and snacks to help them last longer in your stomach. A handful of nuts, some low-fat dairy, soy protein, or lean meat, fish, or chicken will tide you over for hours.
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