If you’re eating before you get hungry, there could be a bunch of reasons why – and a whole lotta stuff to try. Let’s look into it.
Eating by the clock, not your hunger?
Some people thrive on three meals a day, while others need to eat more frequently. The whole idea that we should eat at certain in sync times of the day is a bit crazy! Notice if you often eat a meal simply because it’s breakfast or lunch time. Are you truly hungry? Could you wait a little longer to eat that meal? You might find you need to have lunch at 11:30am or perhaps you only have breakfast by that time! Ditch the standardised meal times and find your bodies preference.
Fear of hunger
Do you think you might be scared of becoming hungry? Do you have experiences in the past when you become too hungry and it didn’t go well? Hunger may feel unknown but it’s helpful to know that hunger is pretty predictable. It builds slowly and there are often patterns to when it comes on so you’ll rarely be surprised.
If you fear hunger, continue to learn about your own personal hunger. How long does it generally take for you to go from peckish, to comfortably hungry? Knowing this will help you have a gauge to manage your hunger. Oh, and of course you can always carry snacks with you if needed!
Try this experiment.
On a work-free day, wake up and while still at home, simply wait until you feel hungry. If you get hungry, you can easily go make yourself food. But become curious about how hunger feels for you as it builds in your body. Can you take note of how long it takes after waking before you’re hungry? Perhaps you’re hungry on waking or it takes several hours. How interesting to know!
For the chronic dieter
If you’ve been dieting for many years, you may eat before hunger because that’s what you’ve been told to do. Or perhaps a part of you feels an unexplainable urge to eat even though you can’t notice hunger. If so, simply notice that this is happening for you. Keep practicing listening to your hunger and watching mindset videos in this app.
Notice FOMO and habits
What do you think you eat when you’re not quite hungry yet? Are you worried that you’ll miss out on the delicious meal, the social aspect or has it simply become a habit? Try to become aware – without judgment – of why you’re often eating when peckish.
Experiment with hunger so you can join in
If you want to eat at a particular meal time (for example, you want to have dinner with your family), but find you aren’t hungry for it – then experiment a little bit. What happens to your hunger if you have a different lunch or lighter afternoon snack? Does that help you get hungry in time for dinner?
Role model waiting for hunger
Sometimes, it comes to meal time and you may simply not be that hungry but you eat because you don’t want others to judge. If you’re with your family, especially kids, you could use this chance to explain hunger and fullness – explaining that you’re just not that hungry right now. You can sit with others so you can socialise.
Accept the occasional delicious situation
Sometimes, we eat before we get hungry because a) the food is delicious! b) the situation means it’s meal time… like when we go to an event. Of course, this is going to happen in life. And that’s perfectly normal. If it’s happening all the time for you, then it’s a good pattern to recognise and perhaps something to work on. Otherwise, enjoy the experience, noting your non-hungry-ness without judgment.
A tip for shift workers
If you have set times when you’re allowed to eat, you might find you end up eating when peckish because this is your only time! That’s understandable.
You can try experimenting with hunger. Does eating slightly less at the previous meal or break time help you feel more hungry? Or do different foods have different impacts on your hunger later. You might find it helpful – or it might be too tricky. If so, try to focus on the meals when you’re not at work in the first instance.