We made it — Part 3…!
In our Understand Your Hunger series, we know how to recognize physical hunger, and why that’s so important. Also, we know how to recognize thirst, and why that’s so important. Now, let’s discuss actual physical hunger, and how to eat to our advantage….
“I am so hungry…! I gotta grab something to eat, NOW…!” Remember this…?
Now, we can ask: Are you sure…? We know how emotional hunger behaves, versus how physical hunger behaves.
We know physical hunger comes on gradually, and can be postponed. The best way to postpone “hunger” is by drinking water — because we typically misinterpret thirst, as hunger. If we drink water, and forget that we were “hungry”, then we satisfied the signal our body was sending — thirst. We know physical hunger can be satisfied with any food. It doesn’t have to be an entire bag of Funky Munky chocolate chip cookies. That’s a craving — a characteristic of emotional hunger. A grilled chicken salad, or an apple with a handful of almonds, will work just fine.
Speaking of a salad…. Have you ever asked yourself, why a salad will satisfy hunger…? Finishing that bag of cookies not only leaves us feeling guilty… but hungry, again.
Our answer lies in nutrient density and caloric density.
Nutrient density describes the bridge between nutrients (both micro- and macro-) and calories. Nutrient dense foods will satisfy actual physical hunger. They have high levels of nutrition, per calories. Fruits, vegetables, and lean animal proteins are excellent choices.
Caloric density describes the amount of energy, in a given unit measure of food. Caloric density is typically related as calories per pound. We have a large number of calories, in a small amount of food. Oils, nuts/seeds, and cheese are excellent choices. Unfortunately, foods high in sugar, and processed whole grains are also caloric dense foods, but not such good choices. Darn you, Funky Munky!
Finding a balance between nutrient dense foods and caloric dense foods will help us reach any health/fitness goal, from a nutritional standpoint. Of course, there are still the aspects of exercise and rest. Fat loss, muscle-building, improved athletic performance, general health and well-being… balancing nutrient density and caloric density is key.
In fact, they are flip-sides of the same coin, so to speak. According to Jeff Novick, MS, RD, “Foods low in calorie density also tend to be higher in satiety, so by consuming foods lower in calorie density, one can fill up on much fewer calories without having to go hungry and without having to weigh, measure or portion control our food. In addition, the foods that are lower in calorie density (fruits, veggies, starchy vegetables, intact whole grains and legumes) are also the foods highest in nutrient density. Therefore, by following a diet lower in calorie density, one also automatically consumes a diet higher in nutrient density.”
Understand that actual physical hunger is our body’s signal for nutrition. Balance nutrient and caloric density to satisfy that signal; give the body what it needs.
At that point, we begin to address our established chronic dehydration, from misinterpreting thirst as hunger. We use “hunger” as a cue to drink water. We address our overeating, from mistakenly eating to satisfy our body’s thirst signal. Typically, we choose junk food, with low nutrient density and high caloric density (remember that bag of cookies). These also address possible emotional eating.
So, to bring this plane in, for a landing….
- Use our 4 Cues, as reminders to drink water, throughout the day
- Use nutrient and caloric density to satisfy actual physical hunger
- Use this blog, for ideas to align nutrition for the body want
I hope you’ve enjoyed this series…! I hope you found value, and some helpful tips to use everyday.
Drop a Comment below, leave a Like, and feel free to Share. I would love to hear, from you…!
Join us, for the upcoming blog, on meal planning…!