Our appetite signal can’t be trusted. For proof, just look at all the overweight people in this country, who consume more calories than their bodies need. The next time you get the urge to eat, here’s how to tell if your hunger is genuine:
1. Look for a slow build. Physical hunger comes on gradually, while emotional hunger is sudden.
2. Listen for the growl. When your stomach is truly empty, it’ll feel hollow, and you’ll experience gurgling and hunger pangs.
3. Ask yourself what you’re hungry for. True hunger can be satisfied with any food. If only a particular food will do, you’re not really hungry. (Hint: If you want that cake instead of an apple you aren't truly hungry!)
4. Wait 10 minutes. Hit the timer on the stove or the one on your sports watch and distract yourself with a task until you hear the ding. Usually by that time, if it’s a craving, it will have passed.
5. Drink eight ounces of water. Many people confuse hunger with thirst, thinking they need food when their bodies actually need fluids. So drink a glass of water, then wait 10 minutes. If you’re still hungry, it’s legitimate.
6. Stick something else in your mouth. If gum, a lollipop, or a mint satisfies you, it’s an oral craving, not hunger.