Episode 25: Eating when you Aren't Hungry, Parties and Protocol
This week’s episode is about eating when you are not hungry, parties and how to use your protocol. We are heading into the holiday season, and this will be important advice to keep your head about you. Yes, I have been asking you to pay attention and eat when hungry and stop at enough. But when do you break that sort of instruction? Can your protocol about eating go beyond just putting food on it? Face the holidays with some information and tricks in your pocket.
1:15. Listener of the week
2:59. Eating when not hungry
7:37. Eating past a 6 or 7 is not a moral issue
8:58. Situations where you might find yourself not hungry but faced with food
12:24. Anxiety can come from breaking your habits around food
13:52. What if I don't even know that I am hungry?
15:44. Using your protocol for other things than listing foods
20:19. Using the "if-then" method
21:48. Further help to handle parties
23:17. What mistakes are we making?
25:27. This week's ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE
29:02. This week's VFO (Valuable Free Offer)
29:51. Episode 26, coming up
Breaking Free From Diet Prison Book
Breaking Free From Diet Prison Course
THIS WEEK'S VFO: Using your Hunger Scale
Breaking Free From Diet Prison Facebook page
Roadmap To Diet Success Instagram
ACCESS Transcript Here
Episode #: 25. Eating When You’re Not Hungry, Parties and Protocol
You’re Listening to the Roadmap to Diet Success, Episode #25, Eating When You’re Not Hungry, Parties and Protocol.
Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Breaking Free From Diet Prison, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl!
Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or services, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!
1:15 LISTENER OF THE WEEK
I want to start with this week’s 5-star review from MSHUF via Apple Podcasts. The title of this review is “So Helpful and Easy to Follow.” She says, “I love Miriam’s podcasts. Easy listening and easy to follow her sound advice. Whenever I need encouragement, I listen to one of her podcasts. It’s like sitting down to tea with an old friend.”
Thank you, and I am glad you are enjoying Roadmap to Diet Success. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking the time to leave this review. It helps other listeners find the podcast. I am happy she touched on the sound advice that I try to give you every episode. When I give you the week’s coaching advice, please take it to heart. I work with you here in this podcast as if you are one of my personal clients, and you are getting specific coaching advice that I use with them. This is what sets this podcast apart from others, and I hope you take full advantage of it!
My personal stories are woven throughout this episode. I show you how I handled not being hungry at various meals and how I arranged my meals around it. I also talk about some successful Thanksgiving strategies that I used throughout the years.
2:59 Eating when not hungry
This episode primarily tackles the question about whether or not you should ever eat if you are not hungry. There are many schools of thought on this one and I will give you mine.
I say it is okay to eat even if you are not hungry, but I want to explore it before you go off saying, “Miriam said I could eat even if I’m stuffed.”
No, I am not saying that at all. What I am saying is that food and meal-taking is so entrenched in our cultures. There is food at happy occasions, such as weddings and birth celebrations. There is food at holidays, such as Thanksgiving and Christmas. There is food at sad occasions, such as funerals. There is food to show love, such as the special dinner or dessert requested by the birthday person.
Like it or not, food does show love. The problem arises when the food itself becomes love and happiness and when sadness develops at a visceral level for us. Now when we are upset, we eat; when we are lonely, we eat; when we are happy, we eat. I am also talking about that “short-chain” reaction, i.e., my boss yelled at me so I’m going to eat cupcakes. These circumstances should not give you permission to eat when you are not hungry.
I am also not saying to give into food pushers. “Here, I made your favorite pie and you will hurt my feelings if you don’t eat it” or “Take one more bite it – it won’t kill you.” I am further not saying that if you ate lunch you brought with you and the office orders out that you should have a second lunch or that you should eat food because it is there or it is free.
I am saying that you do not have to be at a 5 or less on the scale to eat. Maybe you had a late and satisfying breakfast and intend to skip lunch but there is a mid-day Christmas party at the office and there is a favorite dessert you like. You can wrap it up for later, or you can have a bite or piece and enjoy it. You do not then have to hate yourself because the food was off your plan or you ate when you were already at a 6.
Have it, enjoy it, and move on. Don’t make yourself sick at a Thanksgiving dinner but try not to start it being stuffed by eating all the appetizers.
Let’s say you did have too many appetizers and you were talking with friends and drinking and before you know it you are already at a 5 or 6. Looking at the Good-Better-Best way to handle this, GOOD would be to make a plate and have it but at least don’t have seconds or desserts. BETTER would be to take a little of your most favorite thing and just eat that. BEST would be to not eat (and if it is at a family member’s house – or your own – you can ask to wrap up a plate to go).
The point is, eating when you are not hungry does not have to be black or white, right or wrong. You can look at Good-Better-Best and take the route that is best for you. Don’t let GOOD derail you because it is not BEST. GOOD is a valid stop on the journey.
Another situation would be if you are going out to dinner, but you had a late and satisfying breakfast. Let yourself get a little hungry during the day – have a snack or half of your lunch, so that you are at a 5 or below when you go out to dinner. But if you are not that hungry, you don’t have to sit there and drink a glass of water while everyone else is eating. Have just an appetizer or salad. Join the meal and don’t feel guilty.
7:37 Eating past a 6 or 7 is not a moral issue.
It is not the tipping point between whether you are a good person or a bad person, a worthy person or an unworthy person. It is a question of how do you want to feel? There is the physical layer – you certainly don’t want to make yourself sick or feel so bad you are popping Tums all night. The mental layer is actually more important. How will you feel if you eat food not on your plan and feel way past full? Can you give yourself permission or will you beat yourself up, hate yourself, and maybe get totally derailed from your food plan? I think it is important to see yourself through several of these situations. Sometimes eat, sometimes don’t eat. Eventually you will learn what is best for you. One size does not fit all!
I talked about this in Episode 6, The Key to Freedom: Using Your Hunger Scale, and I hope you go back and give it a listen. It’s so important to understand the stages of your hunger scale when you are not following a prescribed eating plan – especially during the holidays.
8:58 Situations where you might find yourself not hungry but faced with food
· You might be asking, “What will happen if I am not hungry for three meals?” As odd as this question might seem, this is a source of anxiety and worry for a lot of people, myself included. The natural progression of most balanced eating plans is that you are less often hungry because your hunger hormone (ghrelin) and fullness hormone (leptin) begin to throw off their shackles of insulin resistance. I was absolutely a three-meal-a-day plus two-snack-a day eater with plenty of after-dinner eating as well. In my case, the progression for me with Keto started with having breakfast and coffee, then lunch, then something on the way home during my long commute. When I got home, I wasn’t hungry, and I missed having dinner, especially on the evenings that my husband was off from work. On those occasions I often ate when I wasn’t hungry and that just didn’t feel good.
o I thought to myself, if I want to eat dinner what is logical to cut out?
o I cut out lunches, but I hated that because I had a lunch hour at work.
o In the nice weather I could go for a walk, but in the colder weather I stayed in my office and I just didn’t know what to do with myself for that hour, when I had always enjoyed shutting my door and having a leisurely lunch.
o I finally cut out breakfast (I had been a huge breakfast eater) but didn’t want to forgo coffee.
o So after a while I had a couple of coffees with heavy cream in the morning, a light lunch and then enjoy a later dinner so that I was not looking to eat in the evening and also, I am not that hungry in the morning.
· Another similar adjustment comes when you go out with friends to eat and you are just not hungry. I know it is difficult in a social situation to not eat, especially if everyone is out to dinner or lunch at a restaurant.
o I would never say to eat anyway, especially if you have been trying so hard to get your hunger cues where you can feel them.
o Have a cup of tea or coffee. If you are at about a 3 (on a scale of 1 – 10), it is okay to have something light.
o No one would question you if you just ordered a salad.
o The other thing is to plan to be hungry at the meal.
o If it is lunch, maybe have an earlier dinner the night before and cut your coffee or other beverage consumption in the morning.
o If it is dinner, that one is easy – perhaps have a light breakfast that day and then skip lunch or have something light but filling, like a few slices of salami and cheese.
12:24 A lot of times this anxiety can come just from breaking your habits around food.
· If this is the situation, stop and breathe, and then ask yourself, “Am I hungry? What do I really need here?”
o I got very anxious at lunch, so in the nice weather I tried to get out for a walk, but eventually I adjusted my meals so that I was hungry at lunch.
o I would want to eat in the evenings after dinner, and in the midst of breaking that habit I would get very anxious.
o I stopped and asked myself what was really going on to cause that level of “head hunger”?
§ Was I just unable to relax?
§ What would help?
§ Was I rethinking things that happened during the day that might have upset me?
o They are only thoughts, sit with them and let the anxiety wash over and pass. Is it purely habit, for instance watching TV and eating? Get up and brush your teeth and get ready for bed.
o Once you get used to not reacting to mealtimes, social situations, habits and anxiety, this question is moot. It won’t even phase you that you are not eating the usual quantities and number of times.
13:52 What if I don’t even know that I’m hungry?
· If you have been strongly ruled by an external-locus-of-control way of eating, you may have no clue what hunger is. Be sure to listen to Episode 24 to learn more about this situation.
· This is because you relied on a clock or social situation to tell you it was time to eat. I do a lot of hunger-scale training with my clients, but in a nutshell here, let me say that if you absolutely have no clue what feeling hungry is, I suggest a short intermittent fast.
o If you must, have your coffee in the morning but go until dinner with nothing but water.
o Still not sure you are hungry?
o Wait until the morning to eat.
o Short intermittent fasts clear up a lot of the “How do I know if I’m hungry?” questions.
· Another way to learn is to pay attention to how you feel after you eat.
o Please don’t eat until the “I can’t eat another bite” stage – take one serving of whatever you are eating and put the fork down.
o Sit quietly and really home in on how you are feeling.
o Do you feel sort of neutral (5) – that you could probably eat a bit more without being stuffed?
o Okay – hold on to the feeling.
o Next time you wonder if you are hungry, recall this feeling you have right now.
o If this is how you feel you are not hungry enough to take a meal.
15:44 Using your protocol for other things than listing foods
· In Episode 8, I talked about Protocol Meal Planning. Using a Protocol is especially perfect for the holiday season.
· Here are some suggestions for using your Protocol for eating behavior.
o Decide you will not eat standing up
o Decide you will take one plate of each course: 1 for appetizers, 1 for main course, 1 for dessert.
o Better yet, decide for appetizers and desserts that you will take one of the offered items.
o Decide that if salad is served you will start with that, then go on to one plate of a main course.
o Decide that you will have appetizer or dessert.
o Decide that you will leave a bite or two behind of each course, including salad.
o Decide that you will have a glass of water or seltzer before eating.
o Decide that when you are finished you will go to the bathroom and brush your teeth.
o Decide in advance, that if this is an all-day afternoon function, that you will eat lightly, if at all, later when you get home. Better yet, prepare a small plate of something light for yourself at home before leaving for the party.
o Imagine what foods will be set out, see yourself picking what you truly love to eat, and decide in advance that you will follow that mind’s-eye plan.
o Decide in advance that you will ask the hostess if you can bring something home if you like.
§ Here is where I want to tell you about two of my Thanksgivings:
· The first one was my own, when I was hostessing Thanksgiving. My personal rule when doing so was that there would be no leftovers in my house, except for one plate of everything that my husband enjoyed the day after.
o Starting in September I started saving all the food containers that came into the house. That could be anything from cottage-cheese containers, to the plastic boxes used by the Chinese takeout place.
o Before the big day I also checked my supply of baggies and aluminum foil.
o Everything except that one plate of food went home with my guests.
o When no one wanted to take desserts, I brought the plates to the kitchen with the intent of throwing everything out. I am sorry for the waste, but I don’t make desserts, and when people ask what they can bring I usually “assign” just a few desserts, so the table is not laden, even though that is the tradition. We all know that those desserts do NOT disappear after a full Thanksgiving meal.
o When guests realized – with horror – that I meant what I said, the desserts usually found a home.
o Another thing that I began to do was buy the jumbo-sized food bags for the turkey carcass. That way I either kept it myself for soup or sent it home with the person who wanted it. There was quite some sparring over it, so one year one person got it and another year another person got it.
· The second Thanksgiving example was when my daughter began hostessing Thanksgiving.
o Her invitations came by email with assignments for everyone.
o Because I had the email list, I used it to tell everyone to bring at least one container if they were going to want leftovers. This prevented my daughter from having to send out all her containers (the years I did not do Thanksgiving I did not start gathering them in September!) or have people take home mashed potatoes in aluminum foil! I always got the comment: “GREAT IDEA! THANK YOU!” And for myself, I still only took that one plate home that my husband wanted.
20:19 The “if-then” method for making even further use of your Protocol
o Decide in advance, “If I am going to have desserts then I am not going to have appetizers.”
o Decide in advance, “If I have cheese and crackers then I am not also going to have chip and dip” (or any variation of that).
o Decide in advance, “If I know I am going to have two servings of the main course because I know what is on the menu and I would like everything, then I am not going to have appetizers or dessert.”
o Decide in advance, “If it is nice weather, then I am just going to step out a few times to breathe, center myself, and get away from all the food.”
21:48 Further help to handle parties
· Get rid of anxiety around food and how much of it there is or how much of it you will eat.
· Do mindfulness practices, like some deep breathing or thinking, with gratitude, that you are with family and friends and a great meal.
· Decide in advance what number on the hunger scale you are comfortable being at. Please, whatever you do, don’t stuff yourself. But being at a 6 or 7 is not the end of the world.
· Go armed with your protocol (food, behavior, other ideas)
· If you are going to a family event of a close family member (like one of your children or a sibling), ask if they mind if you bring a couple of your own takeout containers because you know the food will be great and you want to take home what you won’t be eating – if there is enough for everyone else, of course.
· Circling back to anxiety – take a break when needed. Go outside, leave the room, sit in the bathroom for a few minutes.
23:17 What mistakes are we making?
· We think we have to please the food pushers. A simple, “No thank you. But thank you so much. May I wrap it up to take home?” is all you need. Be strong. You can say it!
· We think we have to finish everything on our plate. Yes, you might get comments like, “Oh didn’t you like it?” or “Are you feeling okay?” Just answer with, “I loved it, but I took too much.” (Go on to blame that you had too many appetizers or are leaving room for dessert.)
· We think that anyone really cares. They don’t. Trust me. Well, maybe an 85-year-old mother, but that’s about it.
· We think that stuffing ourselves is the polite thing to do because it easier to do that than say “No thank you.”
· We don’t make enough decisions in advance.
· We go without a protocol. Even if we don’t know what is on the menu we can still go with a behavioral protocol.
· We throw all our good habits and intentions out the window because, after all, it is a party or special occasion, and there is always tomorrow. My friends, this is fine, but if you eat till you are sick and stuffed or go home with high blood sugar, then tomorrow isn’t what you should be looking at. You need to look at the present, and how you feel emotionally and physically.
· STOP AT ENOUGH! If the food is so good that you can’t stand leaving it behind either take some home, decide you are going to order it at a restaurant within the month, or just make it yourself.
· IT’S ONLY FOOD. YOU ARE MORE IMPORTANT THAN A PLATE OF FOOD. REMEMBER THAT!
25:27 HERE IS YOUR ACTIONABLE COACHING ADVICE FOR THIS WEEK:
You could be listening to this at any time, but if you are listening as I am producing this podcast, this will be the week before Thanksgiving. This week’s actionable coaching advice is good for any time of the year so please do it regardless of when you are listening.
· Go back to the behavioral and if-then protocols I gave above (they will be in the transcript).
· In your journal or on plain paper, I want you to make your own, either taking mine or making your own with behaviors that you are working on.
· Take out a calendar.
· Mark each and every family, friend or office get-together that is coming up.
· This works any time of year – not just what we call the holiday season.
· Did you get the drift of “DECIDE IN ADVANCE”? Out of your protocols pick one or two things that you can decide upon in advance.
· The great thing about matching this with a calendar is that different protocols work with different occasions. The take-out container one doesn’t work at a dinner party at the boss’s house, but maybe the one plate of food one does.
· You don’t have to do all the things all the time.
· As with anything, the more consistent you are with the habit of working with your protocols, the more natural it will become for you to carry out the behavior.
· Success breeds success. Accomplishing one thing on your protocol at one party will set you up to accomplishing more. Stick with it.
· And this week’s VFO, coming up, is working with your hunger scale. Practice every day calling attention to what number you are at, before meals, during meals and after meals. When you can instantly put a number to what you are feeling, working with your protocols will be like magic.
29:02 This week’s VFO (Valuable Free Offer)
This week’s VFO is the Hunger Scale booklet. We are heading into the holiday season, and indeed the next few episodes will address this. It is a good time to review ways to spot your true hunger and appreciate when you have had enough. This will help you get through all the dinners and parties that are coming up starting with Thanksgiving this month. And although this episode shows you that you can eat when you are not hungry, you must learn the “enough” cue so that you will learn to stop before you are uncomfortable. It can be found at miriamhatoum.com/hunger-scale. As always, the direct link is in the show notes and transcripts.
29:51 Next week’s episode
Next week’s episode is about grains, sugar and inflammation. I would venture to say the worst part about the holiday season is not so much the overeating, but what is on the menu. Sure, you can be derailed with a weight gain, but more importantly, you are derailed because of how you feel. You might feel bloated, your joints might hurt or you might just feel a general malaise. These are more because of the foods we eat during the holiday season – the breads, crackers, cakes and cookies – than the quantity of food we eat. Stay tuned for next week’s show that will tell you about inflammation, how it comes out sideways, and how you can eat smarter – not less – during the upcoming holidays.
So go share the show with your friends, let them know that’s coming up in the next episode, and invite them to tune in with you and learn how to become free from diet prison with my Roadmap to Diet Success.
And, if you like what you hear, please like and subscribe, and remember to leave a review wherever you listen to your podcast. It helps other people find the show. Also, don’t be a stranger. Come on over to my Facebook page, Breaking Free From Diet Prison, and let me know if there is anything you would like to hear on the show. I always look forward to hearing from listeners. You can also email me directly … firstname.lastname@example.org. I would especially like to hear about episode ideas you are interested in.
Until then, go live free from diet worry — I’ll see you back here next time.
Breaking Free From Diet Prison Book
Breaking Free From Diet Prison Course
THIS WEEK'S VFO: Using your Hunger Scale
Breaking Free From Diet Prison Facebook page
Roadmap To Diet Success Instagram