Posted on August 28 2019
It’s that mid-afternoon lull and you know your stomach won’t make it to dinner.
You open the fridge and see pita hummus dip containers you prepped and portioned out for this exact occasion. Yet, your eyes can’t avert from your biggest weakness: the salted caramel chocolate bar you bought at the store.
You repeat in your head, “Be strong, be strong, be strong. You just started your diet yesterday for wedding season.” Don't stress. I’m going to let you in on a little secret: Science reveals that you should indulge in that favorite snack.
Now I’m not saying to eat the entire quart of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream (though it sounds like a lot of fun), but research shows responding to hunger cues can be beneficial. Let's take a look at some reasons why.
1. Listen to the Intuition
Pay close attention to your appetite. After all, it is your body’s signal for needing essential nutrients.
It is important to recognize when you need rest or are desiring a specific food. People who practice a healthy lifestyle are in sync with their bodies; noticing hunger, dehydration, inflammation, or even sickness. By paying closer attention, you can better tend to these cues being relayed by the central nervous system.
2. Identify the “Why”
When cravings occur, consider that there could be something deeper going on that needs to be addressed.
Cravings can happen due to fluctuating hormones, stress, sleep, and hydration levels. However, chronic salt or sugar urges may indicate nutrient deficiencies or digestive issues. Read more here.
3. Feed Your Need
It’s often the case that you do not even need much to appease your appetite. Commonly, a single scoop of ice cream satisfies you more than a protein bar that’s attempting to imitate the flavor you really desire.
Instead of swearing a food off altogether, “allow yourself smaller indulgences along the way to your goals,” suggests Brigitte Zeitlin, RD, owner of BZ Nutrition. This helps ensure your eating plan is sustainable and enjoyable.
4. Evaluate Your Hunger Rate
“Analyze your energy levels, how your stomach feels, where you are at mentally and emotionally, and pay attention to how well you sleep that night,” says Krista Scott-Dixon, Ph.D., the Toronto, Canada-based director of curriculum at Precision Nutrition. If physiologically satisfied after post indulgence, you’ll know it was a smart choice.
More Keys to Being Healthy
Stay away from associating “healthy” and “unhealthy” labels to particular meals and snacks. Rather, intentionally consume a balanced meal with moderation.
Oh, and also, sometimes the snacks you crave are more nutritious than those “health halos.” Take a glance at food labels to reduce processed food intake. You’d be surprised what sneaky added sugars are in your go-to snacks (we’re talking to you, flavored yogurts and marinara sauce).
If you absolutely must abstain from your desired snack or meal, replace it with a healthy alternative:
Remember that it’s important to treat yo’ self every once and a while. You deserve it.