Part 1 : Body Cues
Also, I think an important factor to point out is that we have gotten so smart that our intelligence tries to out-wit our instincts. We try to tell our bodies how often we're going to eat, how much of each nutrient, and how many calories we're going to consume... and it can fail if it is done incorrectly. Eating schedules do work for some people! It's not because the eating plan has magical powers, though. There is no one-size-fits-all diet. The person has just found a routine that happens to work for them. If it works for you, Good on ya! Keep it up.
What I suggest for those of you who need something different is to start taking a step back and listening to the survival cues your body is sending you.
Listen to your body:
Hunger cues are the signals your body sends to tell you when to eat, and often, what it craves. As your blood sugar drops, your body responds by sending up red flags. The brain runs on glucose and when the fuel it requires starts running low, our bodies start to react and send us signals that it's time to eat again. The brain is basically saying, "Hey! Eat something so I can keep working the way I'm supposed to!"
As your body starts preparing for the food that it desires, we notice another set of hunger cues. The mechanical cues (salivating, stomach churning, heartburn, burping, etc) are caused as the stomach acid is released in preparation for food. Basically, the body is starting to set up camp and prepare for the food that it wants you to eat.
Common hunger cues include: dizziness, headache, lack of ability to focus, lethargy, irritability, mood swings, stomach growling, salivating, constant thought of food, cravings, nausea, heartburn, and burping. Many people will find that they experience these hunger cues, but some people have some that are uniquely their own.
Satiety cues are the signals your body sends as it has completed its mission to eat. In many cultures, we have learned to ignore our satiety cues through years of over-eating. Have you heard someone tell a child to clean their plate? "Children in [insert country here] are dying of starvation. Don't waste your food!" We aren't helping starving kids in the world by over-eating...
Once your body has fulfilled its goal to obtain fuel, it loses interest in food. Some common satiety cues are: loss of interest in a meal, urge to push the plate away, sense of fullness, lack of taste or smell, and stomach ache.
The practice of mindful eating can give you the power to identify your hunger and satiety.
-For the next week, jot down the times you notice your hunger and satiety cues when you notice them.
-Don't force your children to eat everything on their plate (learning to push past satiety)
-Eat only when truly hungry and not because of stress, boredom, or simply the availability of food
-Enjoy your meal to its fullest! Take pauses from eating to practice noticing satiety.
-Keep in mind: Food can be saved for later! Refrigerate, freeze, or can your leftovers.
-Print out this picture and use it to help "rate" your hunger and satiety:
Good luck :)