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Are You Truly Hungry? 3 Ways to Question Your Food Impulses

Do you find yourself giving in to that 3 p.m. chocolate craving? Do you suddenly want something that you see someone eating even though you just had a big meal? Stop! Listen to your body before you indulge. Bethenny Frankel, author of NATURALLY THIN, shares how we can better control our food impulses.

Listening to your food voice is the key to learning what you really want. Do you really want ice cream, or do you just think you want it because everybody else is getting some? Do you really want to eat the leftover chicken fingers and grilled cheese from your child’s plate, or would you rather sit down and eat something you will really enjoy?

Understanding and tuning in to your true food desires takes some practice, and some keen listening to the quiet but persistent whisper of your food voice. Don’t look for external cues in your environment to help you. You have to tune in to your body and your internal cues, as well as your knowledge from the past about how a food is likely to make you feel.

But right now, you might feel frustrated about how to listen, and how to decide if your thoughts or cravings are based on your food voice or coming out of destructive food noise. There are a lot of ways to do this. Here’s what I do:

  • If something sounds really good to me — something I know isn’t the smartest investment — I try to distract myself. I switch lanes, mentally and physically, and often, I forget all about the craving.
  • If I can’t stop thinking about it, I probably want it, so I decide to have a small portion. The key is that I decide to have it. I’m in control.
  • If I can’t stop thinking about a decadent food but I know that I saw a picture of it or smelled it or someone else suggested it, I question my first impulse. Maybe it’s just convenient, or a habit. Maybe it’s just food noise. I spend some time seriously asking myself, Do I really want it? Maybe yes, maybe no, but asking yourself is important.

I question my food impulses a lot, just to keep myself in check. When you ask yourself if you really want a certain food you are craving, listen. Right away, you’ll be stopping yourself from eating automatically, without thinking. Make a decision, consciously and with forethought, and you’re already on the right track.

If you decide you really want something, then indulge. Otherwise, you will eventually rebel against the unfair restrictions you are putting on yourself, and you’ll end up eating twice the calories you would have eaten otherwise. But (here’s the key), when you do indulge, really enjoy yourself. When the food becomes even a little less enjoyable — when you’ve reached the point of diminishing returns — then stop.

And if you don’t stop? Give yourself a break. Shrug it off. Chalk it up to experience, and move on. Now you know even more about your own personal vulnerabilities so you can avoid them more effectively next time. Forgive yourself, and when you have your next meal, balance it. If you ate too much of something sweet, have some protein and vegetables for the next meal. Remember your bank account. When you overspend, you need to rein yourself in for a while. But treat yourself well. Be nice. Nobody deserves to be punished for eating too many cookies.


Bethenny Frankel shares why you should treat your diet like your bank account.


Excerpted from Naturally Thin by Bethenny Frankel. Copyright © 2009 by BB Endeavors LLC. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.


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