Know your body signals continued...
But as we grow older, and fast food, huge portions, and delicious snacks are everywhere, many of us start to ignore our body signals. We eat for other reasons—or sometimes without thinking at all.
You can ignore those body signals for a while, but they are powerful. And if you ignore them for a long time (by dieting, for example) you lose your ability to pay attention to them. You get out of practice.
Know your eating triggers
Common triggers to eating when you're not really hungry are:
- Feeling stressed, bored, lonely, or even happy, which can lead to emotional eating.
- Smells, sights, or social situations.
- The foods around you.
Identify your eating triggers by keeping an eating journal for a week or two. Write down everything you eat, plus the time of day and what you were feeling right before you ate.
After you understand why and how you eat, it's time to look at what and how much you eat.
Many people classify foods as "good" or "bad" based on their calorie or fat content and, sometimes, on how nutritious they are. But a healthy diet has room for all kinds of foods.
A healthy, balanced diet means getting the right amounts of:
- Fat. Choose unsaturated fats like olive and canola oil, nuts, and fish.
- Carbohydrate. Choose carbohydrate that comes from whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and low-fat dairy products.
- Protein. Choose lean protein as often as you can, such as all types of fish, poultry without skin, low-fat dairy products, and legumes (peas, beans, and lentils).
- Fiber. Fiber comes from plant foods, like whole grains, fruits, vegetables, legumes, and nuts.
Keep a food diary, writing down everything you eat for a week or two. It will help you see which foods you need to eat more of and which foods you're eating too much of.
Tips for choosing your food sensibly
- Limit high-fat, sugary, and high-calorie foods. They taste so good that it's easy to eat too much.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Plan your meals ahead of time. You're less likely to grab something convenient—and high in fat, sugar, or salt—if you already know what to make for dinner tonight.