How do you know when you’re really hungry?

On the journey to weight loss, one of the greatest challenge is to differentiate between body hunger and mental hunger.

Often times barely 2 hours after you eat you feel hungry again. Yet this feeling is NOT body hunger.

What happens in the body after we eat?

After we eat, our BS or Blood Sugar levels come up, then the pancreas release insulin and the BS levels go back down.

2 hours after eating, the BS levels are going to be low enough, that we’re going to THINK that we’re hungry again; however, this is not real body hunger.

If we give in to this mental hunger, then we burden our digestive system which really hasn’t finished digesting your meal. (It takes a minimum of 3 hours for the body to digest a plant-based meal.) That’s when we’re most likely to gain weight.

However, if we don’t give in to the mental hunger, the liver is going to release glycogen (or energy) and that’s going to raise our BS back up. Then naturally, they’re going to drop again.

So now it’s about another hour later and it’s been 3 hours since we’ve eaten. And again, we’re going to THINK that we’re hungry again.

However, if we don’t eat just yet, the body is going to break down excess fat, bringing BS levels up again. This is an important tipping point in terms of weight loss, because if once again you resist giving in to mental hunger, then your body can begin to get rid of excess fat.

What helps maintain BS levels?

If you wait for 4 hours between each meal, this stabilizes the function of the liver, as well as your body fat and blood sugar levels.

Note: It’s important to note here that if you’re have diabetes, this strategy will NOT apply to you. And I encourage you to work with an Ayurvedic practitioner or a nutritionist/dietician along with your primary physician in order to make appropriate food choices and habits.

So the key here, is to stabilize your blood sugar levels.

You do that by eating foods that don’t spike insulin, such as:

  • plant-based protein like legumes.
  • complex carbohydrates like whole grains, but also green vegetables and starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes.
  • and healthy fats, like olive oil, avocado, olives, walnuts, falxseeds etc.

You want a slow release of sugar, so your blood sugar levels don’t come down too fast. Which means, it’s better to have a sweet potato at lunch, then to eat an apple as a snack.

And stabilize your BS levels between meals

Another way to stabilize blood sugar levels is between meals by sipping on teas.

  • digestive teas, like CCF, cumin, coriander and fennel. Mix equal amounts of each and add 1/2 tsp in a cup of hot water
  • liver tea, which supports the liver function: dandelion root with milk thistle. Mix equal amounts of each and add 1/2 tsp in a cup of hot water.

In this informative article, the Physician Committee for Responsible Medicine, shares examples of complex carbohydrates.

Click here for my black eye peas and butternut squash recipe for a good example of a meal high in complex carbohydrates.