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Clearly some of us eat for physical reasons (we’re just hungry) and some of us gnaw on leftover Halloween candy for emotional reasons (we’re steamed at the boss about having to start and finish a new report by 10 a.m., and it’s 9:47). But sometimes it’s not always easy to figure out the difference. To help, you need to start using the YOU Diet Hunger Test. Throughout the day, record your level of hunger as judged by this scale. Stay tuned to what your stomach is telling you, not what’s happening outside with stresses (kids going crazy), emotions (spouse is working late again), or habits (Leno equals bowl of Apple Jacks). This process will help you really feel your hunger, so that you can let your stomach, not your emotions dictate your habits.
0 Tank=Hungry. It feels as if you haven’t eaten since junior year of high school.
½ Tank=Edge is off. You’re OK, not desperate, like maybe when you’re driving home from work.
¾ Tank=Satisfied and not hungry. You can go much longer without food. You just ate nuts and a drink before dinner.
1 Full Tank=Full and comfortable. It’s the way you feel after finishing an average-portion, healthful meal.
Overflow Level S=Stuffed. You could’ve stopped two scoops of pudding ago.
Overflow Level OS=Overstuffed. Audible groaning detected.
Overflow Level-BP=Button Pop/Exploding. It’s the typical Thanksgiving gorge. You feel sick and even take the name of your momma’s stuffing in vain.
The way the test works is, every time you find yourself reaching for the cheese sauce or cookie box, rate your hunger. Then think about whether you’re reaching for the leftover lasagna because you’re truly hungry or for a reason that has absolutely nothing to do with hunger. Ideally, you’ll want to stay in the ¾ to Full Tank range-satisfied at all times. And you’ll get there by eating regularly throughout the day. After applying these gauges for two weeks, you’ll start to instinctively know why you’re eating, and, better, you’ll train yourself to eat simply to keep your stomach satisfied-and not your emotions.
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