Eat When You Feel Hungry

March 26, 2011

If yoga has helped you tune in to your body’s subtle signals of hunger and fullness, chances are you’re the healthier for it.

That’s one conclusion that can be drawn from a new study of “intuitive eating.” Steven Hawks, a professor of health science at Brigham Young University, designed a survey that identified 15 women who were intuitive eaters – deciding when and what to eat based on physical cues, not habit or emotion – and 17 who were not.

He gave the women a full blood workup and found that the intuitive eaters had lower cholesterol and triglyceride levels, and tended to be thinner, all of which add up to a healthier cardiovascular profile.

While Hawks has only anecdotal evidence to support this point, he says that the students in his classes who study yoga also tend to eat intuitively.

Hawks himself adopted intuitive eating habits more than five years ago, lost 50 pounds, and has kept them off ever since. He uses a hunger scale—feeling starved is 1, stuffed is 10—and advises people not to let their hunger go below 3 or their satisfaction above 6.

He also recommends giving up moral judgments about food. If you really want that chocolate, go ahead—but be sure to enjoy every bite.

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