Listening To My Brain And Not My Stomach

One of the things I have been trying to do is listening to how my body feels. Like many of you, I have a 9-5 weekday job where I wake up, go to work, and then go home. Rinse and repeat for five days a week. Somewhere in my day is breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  I'll talk about what I actually eat for my meals on another day but right now I want to comment on the fact that I have started to listen to how my body feels when it comes to hunger.

Unlike many people I know , I actually make time to eat breakfast. One reason is that it helps to subside the struggles of hunger as I approach the mid-day, better known as my lunch break. I try to pack my lunch because it's less expensive than eating out, and gives me better control on what I will be eating. When I pack my lunch, I think about what would be enough food for myself at that given point in the day. For example, I eat only what I had packed for lunch. When I say I eat what I packed, I mean I finish everything, but not more than what I had pre-planned. 

A while ago, I realized my parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles and all of the other adult figures in my life helped cultivate a dangerous seed in my young and impressionable mind. I'm sure many people have heard these statements: "Finish your food! Don't waste it because children in <insert third world country here> are starving so be grateful you have food in front of you."

I'm not putting all of the blame on them, and I know their intentions were good. I see many children and adults today being so wasteful, and I can't stand it myself. While living and growing up in the Philippines, I noticed that fresh cooked food was a luxury many people didn't have; and throwing it away for any reason was like treason. Unfortunately those words resonated with me all the way up to my adult years, instilling the behavior that I HAVE TO finish all my food, regardless of whether or not I feel full.

As long as I enjoyed the taste, I ate until the message relayed to my brain from my stomach that it's full. Too bad that message was running on 56k dial-up and I was eating at the speeds of broadband cable. Once I realized that one plate of food was actually enough, I was already two or two and a half plates in. Room for dessert? ALWAYS!

I still find it a little difficult to gauge what will actually fill me up; especially on those days where I'm were too busy to eat at my usual time due to workload and other factors. Once that hunger hits, all I feel is the need to stuff my face and get food in my stomach until my brain says "stop". Well, I know that story never ends up well for me.

I have now slowed down my pace ... or at least I'm still  training myself to let my brain catch up to what my stomach is actually trying to tell it. I found that waiting about 3 to 5 minutes after finishing a portion of my lunch has helped me significantly. It allowed me to gauge if I need the extra banana that I packed or the other half of that chicken adobo that I brought for lunch. If I still feel hungry after a few minutes, then I'll eat what I have left. If not, then away it goes for the next day, or perhaps my dogs will get an extra treat that night.

I know that giving myself a few minutes to digest and reassess will lengthen my  usual "eating time". I'm also aware that I will not always have that luxury of extra time whenever I eat. In the end, a few minutes to myself can literally gain years to my life in the end. That's one message my stomach and brain can instantly agree on.