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How to Recognize Your Body’s Hunger Signals

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How to Recognize Your Body’s Hunger Signals

We all have busy lives. From working full time, parenting, to kickboxing and strength training workouts 6 days a week-we at Farrell’s understand how hard it is to sometimes recognize your body’s cues-especially those that signal hunger. 

 

As human beings, we have evolved to prefer things that taste good, and want to eat in abundance when a lot of food is available. For the majority of human history-food was hard to come by, and sweetness actually signaled that things were calorie dense, and good to eat. This legacy affects our appetite, hunger, and fullness signals and regulation, especially when delicious, calorie dense foods are everywhere! Not to mention humans innate nature to seek reward-it is part of our evolution! And, many types of calorie dense food give us a chemical hit, and release dopamine into our systems.

 

 It also doesn’t help that we live in a world surrounded by cues to eat, combined with easier access than ever (hello uber eats!) to hyper-palatable processed foods-it’s no wonder so many of us struggle to understand when we are truly, truly hungry.  

 

We also tend to make poor food choices when we’re rushed, busy, dehydrated, and stressed-because in these situations we tend to ignore or override our body’s natural hunger and fullness cues. Conversely, we tend to make better choices and manage our intake better when we commit to caring about our food, slowing down, paying attention, and eating mindfully. 

 

Try it for yourself now! Sit down at a table with an 8oz glass of water and no distractions (no phone, book, tv, newspaper, etc.) Be intentional-get yourself a plate or bowl for your meal vs. eating out of any packaging. Portion out what you’re hungry for-and put the rest away (remember you can always grab more if you need to). Now, look at what you’re about to eat. Notice what you’ve chosen. Take a bite of the food-and chew slowly. Use all of your senses-notice the scent, taste, temperature, and texture. Now, put your utensils down, and pause. Take a few slow, deep cleansing breaths, consciously relaxing your body. Check in with yourself-what, if anything-do you notice physically or emotionally? What are you thinking about? Now take another bite of food, and follow the process-use your senses, pause, breathe, check-in. Repeat until your body tells you it’s time to stop.

 

A tip that will help you in eating slowly and mindfully-fill your plate with minimally processed whole foods-such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and lean proteins. Whole foods generally take more work to eat (for example eating a whole apple vs. drinking apple juice, or eating a roasted chicken vs. a chicken nugget). This will also help you to increase your nutrient intake-which in turn may improve your satiety, and help you lose weight. Another perk of minimally processed whole foods, you typically can eat a larger volume of them due to their low calorie content (think broccoli, spinach, kale, cauliflower, etc.) 

 

Control your environment as much as possible. Only keep food where it is intended to be properly stored and consumed-aka in the kitchen (nothing in the nightstand, midnight snackers!) Keep only nutrient dense, optimal foods in your home as much as possible (and have your kids or partner hide or place out of reach the not so optimal pantry itemsthat will sabotage your goals). I know many of us (myself included) who will, if the craving hits for ice cream, go to the freezer and grab some if it’s available. However, there’s only a handful of us that will actually venture out of the house in the middle of the night to go get some if it’s not in the house. Set yourself up for success!

 

The more you practice eating slowly and mindfully, the easier it will be to tune into your body's natural cues and rhythm, and the closer you will get to crushing your goals!



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