How to be healthy & happy

What to Eat When You’re Hungry

The solution is quite simple and it really boils down to 3 questions. So, the next time you find yourself physically hungry (ie it’s not an emotional need). Dr Michelle May encourages us to take a moment to pause and ask ourselves:

1. What do I want?
2. What do I need?
3. What do I have?

Sounds simple right? We’ve become so used to following external cues when it comes to food that we’ve lost touch with the basics on how to feed ourselves. And while it is simple, I will be first to admit, it’s not always easy. Let’s break it down.


1. What do I want?

Stop and think about all the different possibilities – what is your body craving? Do you want something sweet? Salty? What about texture?

Do want something that is creamy or maybe crunchy. You can also consider temperature. Do you want something cold on a hot day or maybe something hot on a cold one?

Do you want something light? Or maybe something more substantial.


2. What do I need?

I believe we all have a basic understanding of what our body needs to be healthy. We’ve learned that we need a variety of nutrients and ‘low human intervention’ foods as often as we can.

Asking yourself what you ‘need’ is an opportunity to think about a variety of outcomes. It’s about asking yourself what your body physically needs. For me, I think about how I want to feel afterwards. Do I want to feel energized or am I ok with being a bit sleepy after I eat? Do I want to feel satisfied but not too stuffed?

I also think about what I’ve eaten earlier in the day or the day before because I try to have a variety of foods in my diet. Was yesterday devoid of veggies? Maybe some veggies are in order. Or maybe I’ve had a lot of grains and carbs and might need some protein.

I also take this time to consider what my health goals are as well as my health history. I have issues with blood sugar so I know that I need to keep sugar minimal if I want to remain alert and not cranky.

That doesn’t’ mean I can’t have sugar, I just consider this when making my choices. I also think about my goals, so knowing I want to have lots of energy and considering which foods give me less.


3. What do I have?

This is probably the most important because if you don’t have it in the house – you can’t eat it! It’s also why planning is the ultimate form of self-care. As I’ve mentioned, the more variety of nutrient-dense foods you have at home the better. That way if you’re craving a crisp apple, you have them there!

Stock your home, workplace, car, or purse with all kinds of different foods that can meet all your cravings and nutritional needs.
This also comes in handy when you’re eating out as sometimes choices can be limited. Consider what you want and need then use that to choose amongst what they have.

Making decisions about food doesn’t have to be difficult and some simple planning will definitely help. We all have the innate ability to know what our body needs, and it’s sad that diet culture and ‘healthism’ has led us so astray.

The most important thing to remember when it comes to eating – is enjoyment. Food is meant to be enjoyed. Slowly, intentionally, using all our senses or celebrated with friends or family. Food should never be a weapon against our bodies. It’s an enjoyable experience that should, in all cases, make you feel GOOD.


> This is part of a Healthy Eating Series written by Michelle Yandle.

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