Sunday, December 21, 2008

Hunger and Overeating

I have made great progress with my diet changes in the past year and a half. Just about all of the bad things are gone and I have learned many valuable lessons from the experts. I owe a special debt of gratitude to Joel Fuhrman, M.D. who introduced me to the Eat to Live program .

Two of the most interesting things about ETL (among many) is the advice to stop eating salt (more on that in another post) and avoiding overeating. Since embarking on a high nutritian diet focusing on vegetables, fruit, beans/legumes, nuts/seeds and whole grains my whole approach to eating has changed. What Dr. Fuhrman describes as "toxic hunger" is gone, which means it is easy for me to not snack and wait until I have true hunger before I eat again.

My goal is to only eat when I am hungry, no matter what. Most of the time I succeed. I no longer feel obligated to eat breakfast as soon as I wake. If my hunger returns in the late morning, sometimes after being awake several hours, I will eat then. If my true hunger returns in mid-afternoon, I'll eat again, and so on. My energy levels stay consistently high on this schedule.

My feelings of hunger are a lot more reliable now that I do not have my hunger articially stimulated with chemical coated processed food loaded with salt, fat and sugar. Manufacturers of artificial food try very hard to overstimulate our taste buds to keep us eating, whether we need to or not. Ridding myself of all these "hunger triggers" has retooled my feelings of hunger. Natural unsweetened, unsalted food tastes great without adding anything. It does take time to recalbrate the taste buds. But, the wait is worth it.

I now eat much less frequently and because I only eat high nutrition foods my weight is stabilized at an optimal place and my health seems very good. There is a myth that we should eat frequent small meals throughout the day for optimal health. The reality seems to be that eating less frequently and consumming only high nutrition foods is best. Eating only when truly hungry means I usually wait 5-6 hours between meals and have cut down my between meal snacking considerably. Every night I try to stop eating right after dinner, usually at 7-8 pm and don't eat again until I am hungry the next morning. Typically 12 - 15 hours separate dinner with my first meal the next day. This gives my digestive system a long time to rest between the last meal of the day and the first meal of the next day. If I am working out early in the morning I will usually eat an hour before the exercise.

My only "sin" these days is with nuts and seeds. I make a delicious trail mix of raw nuts, seeds and dried fruit. This provides energy during long bike rides and also supplies healthy fats every day. I try to restrict myself to no more than 3-5 ounces per day, but sometimes I exceed that amount and it feels as if I am overeating. My weight has remained stable for over a year, so this high fat food does not seem to be adversely affecting me, from a weight perspective. My body fat percentage is holding low and steady.

It has been much easier not to overeat now that I eat mostly very high nutrition foods. This, to me, has been one of the welcome surprises of my eating program. In future posts, I will start to share some of the recipes that have worked so well for me over the past year or so.

1 comment:

kneecap said...

Hi Howard,

Great post! I'm going to link to it from my blog. I'm thinking I need to modify my eating schedule. My breakfast is too close to lunch.

-kneecap (barb)