Archived Story

Paying attention to internal hunger cues can be a key to success

Published 9:17am Wednesday, September 22, 2010

During the last couple weeks I’ve tried to focus on mindful eating.

Am I hungry when I eat? Am I sticking to my goals when I’m trying to make eating decisions, or am I letting impulses guide my choices?

I’ve found that when I eat mindfully — specifically when I recognize when I’m hungry or full and then make more conscious decisions as a result — I’m happy with the results and I feel more in control of my eating.

I’ve aimed to not eat unless I’m hungry — and that doesn’t mean out of control starving either.

Here’s some tips that have helped me better identify my body’s hunger signals:

• Keep a food diary.

Tracking what I eat, along with how I felt when I ate it, helps me pinpoint if I am eating for emotional reasons or for actual hunger. It’s also a good way to keep myself accountable for what goes into my mouth.Weight Watchers encourages people to also write down how hungry they are at various times of the day as well.

It’s been enlightening, and it’s been helpful to be able to look back on some of my habits.

• Drink water.

Sometimes I think I’m hungry but really I’m just thirsty. So anytime I feel like eating a snack something during the day, I’ve been trying to first drink a glass of water.

Sometimes that cures the thought altogether.

• Make time for meals.

When I make time for meals and sit down and actually enjoy them, I feel more satisfied with what I have eaten then I would if I rush through a meal.

My newest goal is to not eat while on the go. That means no eating in the car, standing over the sink or counter in the kitchen or standing in the bathroom while I’m getting ready for the day.

I deserve to take a few minutes out of my day to sit down and appreciate my food.

• Eat slowly and enjoy each bite.

When I don’t rush through a meal, I’m more aware of my body’s reaction to that food.

I’m better able to recognize when I’m full and thus not overeat.

These may seem like small things, but these four tips have really helped me to better understand my own hunger signals.


Since we’re officially into fall now, I’m trying to find some new casserole or crockpot recipes. Here’s one that I found on the Weight Watchers website that I’d like to try out this week.

Mexican-style Brown Rice Casserole

Cooking spray

4 c. cooked brown rice

1 1/4 c. salsa

1 t. ground cumin

15 oz. canned refried beans

10 oz. frozen corn kernels, thawed

4 oz. canned green chili peppers, mild, diced

1 T. chili powder

10 oz. chopped frozen spinach, or collard greens, thawed and set to drain in a strainer over a bowl

3/4 c. low-fat shredded cheddar cheese, divided

2 T. cilantro, fresh, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 F. Coat a 2-quart rectangular, round or oval baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine rice, salsa and cumin. Spoon two cups of rice mixture into prepared baking dish and spread out to evenly cover bottom of dish.

In another large bowl, combine refried beans, corn, chili peppers and chili powder. Using a rubber spatula, scrape bean mixture on top of rice layer and smooth out top.

Squeeze out any excess water from spinach or collard greens and then spread on top of bean layer; sprinkle with six tablespoons of cheese. Top with remaining rice mixture and smooth out top; sprinkle with remaining cheese.

Place casserole on a large-rimmed baking sheet to catch any spillage.

Bake until heated through and cheese is browned and bubbling, about 30 minutes.

Sprinkle with cilantro (if desired), and cut into six pieces and serve.

For Weight Watchers people, this is six points per serving.