You can ask yourself whether your body indeed needs fuel. External sources of false hunger, like appetite and craving triggers, are usually for something specific, something delicious.
You can ask yourself, “Am I so hungry that I’d eat steamed broccoli, brown rice and grilled chicken?” If you’re not actually physically hungry, chances are these won’t sound inviting. When you’re learning or relearning how to sense physical hunger, there’s a series of steps you can take, one at a time, to increase your awareness of what’s happening when you think you’re hungry. It will take practice.
The practice can sometimes be tedious because the essence of practice is repetition. You will need to practice detecting your physical hunger again and again.
The very next time you reach for something to eat or have the thought that you’re hungry and need to seek out food, STOP. Pause for a minute before following through with the momentum of the moment and grabbing food. It helps in this moment to take a breath; one long, expansive breath. The breath alone can interrupt the mindless action of eating without really thinking about it.
What’s going on in your stomach? Are you having physical signs of hunger? If you’re not sure what you are feeling physically have a large glass of water. I suggest 16 ounces of water. If you are truly physically hungry and not just thirsty, your physical sensations of hunger will return in 5-10 minutes.
What are you feeling and thinking at this point? If you think you’re feeling physical signs of hunger are you willing to eat anything? Or is it specifically the donuts that someone brought into work today? If you are not yet feeling physically hungry, try to stay in this space and explore why you want something to eat. If you are indeed feeling physically hungry, forge ahead! Your incinerator door is open and your body will burn what you put inside.
Learn more about deciphering physical hunger and what to do when you are NOT hungry in the BECOME section of this book.
Appetite, cravings, emotions and external cues influence your ability to detect hunger. There are two more things that GREATLY influence your ability to detect physical hunger and the signals coming from your incinerator.
Maintaining a car, bicycle or other type of machinery affects how it functions. There are two things that affect how your body incinerator functions: how much water you drink and how much sleep you get.