Do You Need To Eat, Or Is Your Brain Playing Tricks? Take This Short Quiz To Find Out!

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So you can't think of anything except doughnuts, or you find yourself standing at the office candy drawer unwrapping a Reese's without even knowing how you got there. Pause, breathe, and ask yourself: Is your body craving nutrients, or are the leftovers from your breakfast meeting simply staring at you? Next time a hankering hits, take this short quiz to tune into your body and figure out whether you're truly hungry—or your brain's just messing with you.

1. Are you watching TV right now? Y/N

Spoiler: You're not actually hungry! Mindlessly munching in front of the TV is a key reason many people have trouble reaching their healthiest weight. In fact, a study from the University of Alberta found that people who watched the most TV were more likely to be overweight than those who watched less. After all, it's hard to keep track of how much you're consuming when you're, well, consumed by Gilmore Girls, and when the commercials come on, you're hit with a barrage of junk-food ads.

Also scary: Many people accidentally condition themselves to snack in front of the tube, so that—sort of like Pavlov's dogs drooling at the sound of a bell—just settling onto the couch and grabbing the remote triggers cravings. Keep your hands busy with a healthier activity while you catch up on your favorite shows, like knitting, coloring, or lifting dumbbells.

2. Guzzle a full glass of water. Still hungry? Y/N

It's easy to mistake thirst for hunger, and filling up with a rush of refreshing agua just might take the edge off an all-in-your-head craving. Still not convinced? Consider this: According to a study from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, people who drank three extra cups a day effortlessly cut 205 daily calories, on average. The NutriBullet LEAN plan recommends sipping flavorful lemon water or tea throughout the day to help you stay satiated.

3. Close your eyes for a second and ask yourself: Am I stressed? Y/N

If you turn to food for comfort when you're feeling frazzled or upset, you are definitely not alone. Stress eating is extremely common, and it often involves noshing on high-fat, high-calorie "comfort food" (stuff that reminds you of feeling safe and nurtured, like gooey mac n' cheese) or carb-heavy foods (like sweets and starches), since carbohydrates trigger the release of serotonin, a feel-good chemical.

Of course, stuffing food into a life-problem-shaped hole won't change your circumstances, and it can sabotage your efforts to lead a healthy, balanced life. If stress, not hunger, is the real cause of your craving, find another way to lift your mood, such as meditating for a minute or two, stepping outside for a quick hit of nature, or even watching hilarious animal videos online.

4. Turn to your phone and play a quick round of Candy Crush or Temple Run. Did that help? Y/N

Sometimes, that tricky brain of yours invents a craving simply because it wants something to do. In one study, people who were experiencing a craving were asked to imagine the smell of eucalyptus or a beautiful rainbow, and poof: Their food cravings diminished. Another study found that playing Tetris for just three minutes reduced the intensity, vividness, and frequency of cravings. Simply distracting yourself, it seems, might get you through what seems like an unbearable hankering.

5. Has it been more than three hours since you last ate? Y/N

If you said no to every other question and you're still thinking about that cookie, your body probably does need a burst of nutrients. Does it actually need a double-fudge cookie? No—that's that cave woman mind at work, sneakily telling you to eat the high-calorie food that'll help you pack on pounds for the winter. (Life on the savanna was very different from life in the drive-through lane!)

If a healthier alternative, like a crisp apple with a little almond butter, sounds good to you, your body will thank you later. But if you would actually kill a man for that cookie, break one in half and enjoy every bite, research from the USDA Agricultural Research Service suggests. The experiment found that people who occasionally (emphasis on occasionally!) give in to their cravings for high-calorie foods lose more weight than those who never, ever indulge. That's because you just might go nuts on everything in your fridge, freezer, and cupboard when you tell yourself the cookie is off limits.

Experts say the simplest way to prevent out-of-control cravings is to eat a balanced diet that keeps you satisfied all day long. The NutriBullet LEAN plan, for example, gives you the right balance of food to curb cravings, plus two healthy snacks a day, so you can healthily lose excess weight without feeling peckish all the time. Remember: Healthy, sustainable weight loss is all about finding balance and enjoying the process. Enjoy it!

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