When was the last time you said ‘I’m really hungry’ or felt that you should get something to eat? Often our impulse to consume has very little do with our body’s actual need for nutrients and fuel and more to do with other factors such as the time of day or how you’re feeling emotionally.

I frequently talk to my clients about tuning into their hunger and making a clear distinction between your need for nutrients and your desire to eat something.

It’s not just the obvious benefit of effortlessly managing portion control either. If you’re only consuming food when your body absolutely needs it you’ll feed yourself the right volume of nutrients and your body will be less likely to store excess fat.

If I told you that the key to eating well is to only eat when you’re hungry it might seem obvious, but do you know what ‘hungry’ really feels like?

Some people have three meals a day, but if you feel hungry in between meals and are tempted to snack try spacing six smaller meals throughout the day. It’ll help you avoid that ‘dip’ that makes you reach for biscuits. However, if six meals makes you feel like you’re never not eating then try four meals, but find a pattern that works for you. You don’t want to be a slave to hunger, you want to be in control of what your body needs and when it needs it.

What you want to look out for is feeling satisfied after your meals, not full, just as though you’ve eaten the right amount. And before you eat you want to feel ready for a meal, but not at that point where you’re so hungry you’ll eat more than your body needs.

If you’re ever tempted to help yourself to seconds at meal time wait 15 minutes – remember it’s just 1% of your day – to give your stomach enough time to get the message that food and sustenance is on its way. You may realise that you’re actually completely satisfied.

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