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Try This: Hunger Check

Tween boy sitting over empty plateThinking about getting a snack? Want a second helping? Here are some things to ask yourself before you eat. The idea is make sure you're really hungry -- that you need to eat to give your body energy. This is called being physically hungry. 

Sometimes people eat just because there is more food on the table or because they are tired or sad or bored. By asking yourself these questions before you eat, you can help find out if you're really hungry because your body needs fuel or if you just feel hungry for other reasons.

Am I Really Hungry?

Before you eat, ask yourself these questions:

1. Has it been a few hours since I last ate?

Yes

No

Your body needs energy from food every few hours.

2. Drink a glass of water. Wait 20 to 30 minutes. Then ask yourself, "Am I still hungry?"

Yes

No

Sometimes you may think you are hungry. Then when you drink a glass of water, you realize you were just thirsty.

3. Would drinking a glass of milk or eating a piece of fruit make my hunger go away?

Yes

No

Any food will help you feel better when you are really hungry, physically hungry. If you're not hungry enough to eat a piece of fruit, then you can probably wait a while to eat.

Did you answer "yes" to any of these questions? If so, chances are you are physically hungry.

Did you answer "no" to any of these questions? If so, you may not be physically hungry. You may be trying to fix another problem -- like feeling sad or stressed -- with food. Food can't fix feelings.

What Do I Need to Feel Better?

If you answered "no" to any of the questions about hunger, ask yourself these questions. They can help you figure out why you're hungry and how to fix it.

1. What feeling do I have?

Bored

Angry

Sad

Lonely

Tired

Stressed

Overwhelmed

Afraid

2. What can I do to help solve my feeling? What do I need to feel better? (Check any of these that you think might help. Or write down two other ideas.)

Play a game.

Go outside.

Call a friend.

Talk to a family member.

Start the thing that I'm avoiding -- cleaning my room, doing my homework, or practicing my instrument.

Keep Checking With Yourself

For the next few days, ask yourself these questions when you find yourself wanting a snack.

If you find you often answer "no" to the hunger questions, you could be one of those people who eat to solve feelings. When you eat to solve problems that can't be solved by food, you may feel guilty. Plus, you haven't solved the problem you had, so you still feel bad. You feel bad and you feel guilty. That's not healthy. The good news is you can make a choice to feel better.

It may be hard when you first choose not to let your feelings drive you to eat. But keep practicing. You'll feel so much better when you take actions that help solve your problems in a healthy way and not with food.

 

See why it's important to figure out if you're really hungry. What's Your Mind Got to Do With Eating?

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Renee A. Alli, MD on December 23, 2013