When to Eat
Are there certain times of the day that are better to eat than others? I only have one answer for this question – eat only when you are hungry. That seems like a simplistic answer but it’s the one that we need to abide by. Too many times we eat for all the wrong reasons. We eat to comfort ourselves, to celebrate, to share with others, for social encounters and entertainment. What we need to realize that is that we are supposed to eat to live. Food has come to be a form of entertainment, comfort, an aid in socializing and so much more. For those with eating problems, health or weight management issues, this confusion over eating distorts the brain-gut relationship.
Too many people are on the “see-food” diet – they see food and they want to eat. In order to reestablish the connection with the appestat – the area in the brain that regulates appetite – food has to take its proper place in our lives. The body is a complex and finely-tuned “machine” that we can easily set off-track. Depression can repress the desire to eat; stress can increase the desire to eat. These emotions are often triggered by hormones.
Hormones in Action
Unbalanced hormones can throw the body completely out of whack. Do you recognize any of these signs that your hormones may be part of the problem in controlling your hunger?
- Do you feel hungry all the time?
If so, the ghrelin hormone may be out of balance. If this hormone never sends signals the brain that you are full after eating, then you feel hungry all the time. Eat more nutrient dense foods at meals Just having a large salad, full of fiber, will help you feel fuller longer.
- Do you feel like you can’t stop eating once you start?
One of the many hormones produced by your fat cells is leptin, which plays a key role in appetite control. When leptin levels aren’t balanced, the brain doesn’t get the “stop eating” signal. If you become leptin-resistant, you never feel satisfied. That’s when ghrelin keeps causing your hunger cravings. A simple solution is to start the day with breakfast that has at least 30 grams of protein. And then only eat next when you truly feel hungry.
- Do you eat when you are stressed?
Stress is a natural part of life but when it is out of control, our lives feel out of control. We deal with stress on many levels – there are physical, mental and emotional stressors. The best therapy for stress is regular sleep. Going to bed around the same time every night and getting up at the same time in the morning helps adjust the body’s natural circadian rhythms.
- Do you have trouble sleeping through the night?
Sleep plays an important role in the hunger cycle. Melatonin is the sleep hormone. Sleep in a dark, cool room. If you find that you wake needing a snack, try a handful of nuts, like walnuts or almonds, before going to bed to keep your blood sugar stable through the night. Other foods that can help you sleep are chamomile tea, raw honey, bananas and cherries.
The bottom line is when you feel hungry, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I really hungry or am I really thirsty?
Thirst can mimic hunger. It is absolutely vital that we drink enough water during the day – not soda or coffee – clean, filtered water.
- Have is been more than 4 hours since I last ate?
The nutrients in your food should allow you to go 3-4 hours without feeling hungry. At the first sign of hunger, drink a full glass of water. That may be all your body needs. If you are still hungry, then eat a well-balanced meal of whole foods to get you through the next 4 hours. Spacing your meals out and staying hydrated will help gain control over your appestat.
If you are still having issues with appetite control, weight management or health issues that hinder from having a thriving life, schedule a free consultation so that we can discuss a personalized approach for you to reach your goals for a vibrant life.
Photo Credit: mohammed mouhssine