We are hearing more and more that we should rely on our internal cues to determine what, when and how much to eat. However, it is important to demystify this increasingly popular recommendation.
What Are These Famous Signals?
The internal cues that are most commonly referred to are the hunger and satiety cues. These are messages that our body sends us to regulate our food intake. And these cues are different for everyone. While hunger is well known, satiety is not. It is actually a "feeling of satisfaction, without being full", or an absence of hunger. But it is important to remember that it is normal to have difficulty detecting these signals, since we have become desensitized to them over time. We should not feel guilty if we have trouble listening to them.
Why Did We Lose Them?
When an infant is hungry, he cries and becomes impatient. When he’s full, they simply stop feeding. This is instinctive. With adults, this instinct is no longer present because we have become desensitized to the signals our body sends us. For many people, we no longer know when we are hungry or we eat beyond our fullness. Some forget to eat and others are not able to stop.
From a young age, there is this need to finish the plate in order not to waste food or to have dessert. Some are also frequently told that they should avoid eating certain foods or that they should avoid eating after a certain time.
External messages from an outdated social construct have replaced the simple signals that our body sends us out of kindness.
How Can We Get Them Back?
It is possible to reconnect with our hunger and satiety cues, but it takes work and time. We must not get discouraged. Here are a few tips to help you pay more attention to those cues.
Tips for Recognizing Hunger:
- Don't wait until you are starving to ask yourself if you are hungry
- Identify the signs telling you that you are hungry (headache, irritability, lack of concentration... Everyone is different!)
Tips for Recognizing Satiety:
- Take a break during your meal
- Pay attention to the pleasure that food brings you (the first bite tastes so much better than the last!)
We must remember one thing : There is only one expert on our bodies, and that is us. However, health professionals (such as a dietitian) are excellent guides to help us reach our own goals in a caring and gentle manner.