Are You Really Hungry?

Have you ever eaten the last stale cookie out of the cookie jar because it was there? Maybe you didn’t want it to go to waste or you may have popped it into your mouth without thinking at all. Americans tend to eat whatever is in front of us. Quite often, the choices we make about our daily food intake are mindless. We may be distracted by television, conversation with friends, or the latest family crisis.

There are signals and cues all around that tell us to eat. There is that last piece of chicken, the candy in the candy jar, or the aroma of popcorn at the movie theater. Suddenly, it becomes our mission to eat whether we are full or not. Those calories eaten without careful thought add up to extra pounds over time.

To become a more mindful eater and gain control of what and how much you eat, try these strategies:

  • Determine how much you are currently eating by measuring, weighing and counting out foods. Compare your regular portions to the recommended serving sizes and make changes if needed.
  • Eat at a slower pace. Research studies have shown that it takes approximately 20 minutes for our body to send the message that signals fullness to our brain. Allow your body and brain time to tell you that you are feeling full.
  • Pay attention to the colors, aromas, textures and flavors of your food. Use your senses to really enjoy your meal.
  • Tune out the distractions. Turn off the television or any other activity that draws your attention away from what you are eating.
  • Don’t serve meals family style. Serve your plate in the kitchen and then move to the table to eat. That way you will not see a table full of food and be tempted by second helpings.
  • Wait before going back for seconds. Delay that second serving for 10 to 15 seconds and you may find that you are satisfied with one portion.
  • Downsize your dinnerware. If your mind wants to eat everything it sees, trick it by using smaller dishes.
  • Don’t eat straight from a package. Divide contents into recommended serving size packages or put one serving onto a plate and eat only that portion. Eating from a large package increases your chance of eating more.
  • Keep those foods that really tempt you out of sight or out of the pantry so you won’t be tempted to snack on less healthy foods.

For more information about nutrition topics, visit or

Submitted by Danna Gillett, the Family and Consumer Sciences Agent for Richland Parish. This article will appear in The Richland Beacon and The Delhi Dispatch on  March 31, 2011.

3/29/2011 1:19:33 AM
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