Grab, Open, Munch, and Swallow 17 September 2014

For many of us, there is a health risk in our surroundings*. It is very easy to grab food at the earliest sign of hunger.You may go through your day nibbling so that you rarely experience even slight hunger.

At home, you may be stocked with a large supply of food from the big box store. All you have to do is grab, open, munch, and swallow the chips from the 10 pound bag or the nuts or trail mix from the huge canister that barely fits in the pantry. Hey, you paid good money for that food. Somebody must eat it before it goes stale. At work, there may the box of donuts, the bowl of chocolates or the stash of crackers or cereal bars in the desk drawer. At the slightest twinge of hunger you can rescue those stomach pangs.

Maybe you find yourself eating out of boredom or for entertainment just because you saw a tantalizing food commercial or walked by the pie on the counter. Grab, open, munch, and swallow. Could your “hunger” be a little heartburn or a stomach upset from the ibuprofen? Surely you don’t want to risk a stomach ulcer like Uncle Bob! Grab, open, munch, swallow.

Seriously though, think about hunger. There are both internal and external cues that drive us to eat. Physical hunger is a very great need for food or an uncomfortable feeling in your stomach that is caused by the need for food (1). Hedonic hunger is described as food consumption for pleasure, not just by the need for calories (2).

If you find yourself vulnerable to environmental cues to eat or you eat for reasons other than physical hunger, try using the hunger scale to gain control of your eating (3). Here is how it can be used. Journal (or at least be mindful of) your physical hunger before and after eating. On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being ravenous (you may have a headache, can’t concentrate, feel dizzy) to 10 being stuffed (Thanksgiving dinner feeling). Trying to stay between a 3 (the urge to eat is strong and your stomach feels empty.) and a 6 (you feel satisfied) on the scale helps you to notice physical hunger and eat comfortably, feeling satisfied.

* This post is not about food insecurity. Unfortunately, there are increasing numbers of individuals in the US who are truly hungry with a lack of food. That is a totally different subject.

  2. MR Lowe, ML Butryn. Hedonic Hunger: A new dimension of appetite. J Phys Beh.2007.
Brenda Braslow, MS, RD, CDE
Registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator in Indialantic, Florida
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Disclaimer: The information provided here does not constitute medical advice. If you are seeking medical advice, please visit your healthcare provider or medical professional.


Weight Loss/Emotional & Mindful Eating Weight Loss/Food Environment

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