Do you know when to stop eating?

Yoga facilitates weight loss by resetting your internal appetite barometer

Most of us grew up with some variation of the mantra: ‘Finish your meal-there are children starving in Africa!’ Depending on your parents, this could range from subtle appeals to guilt to outright blackmail, as in the well-known: ‘No dessert unless you finish your dinner.’

However well-meaning, most parents pressure their kids to eat when there’s still food left on the plate.  Unfortunately, while no one wants to waste food, there’s also no sense in treating the body like a garbage can. The body signals to us when to stop eating; this is an important impulse, which helps regulate weight naturally. Unfortunately, when we ignore feelings of satiety again and again, over the long run our internal appetite monitor goes quiet. After years of over-stuffing we don’t feel full until we’re so packed with food that we can barely move after a meal.

A key to natural weightloss is to reconnect with the body’s natural internal appetite regulating mechanisms, which tell us when to put down the fork because we’re satisfied.

Americans have one of the highest levels of obesity in the world, and research suggests that it could, in part, be due to our inability to know when to stop eating, because we’re full. A study on natural weightloss mechanics conducted by the Cornell Food Lab compared a group of nearly 150 Chicago residents with an equal number of residents in Paris, France to see how well the two groups knew when to stop eating.

In the study, the Parisians reported that they no longer felt hungry after eating a certain amount, or that the food no longer tasted good to them. These are both internal signals indicating satiety. The Americans on the other hand, said they knew they were full when either they had cleaned their plate, when everyone else at the table had finished, or when the TV show they were watching while eating ended. These are all external cues. The Americans in short, were not listening to their bodies, but looking for signs in our environment to tell them when to stop eating.

For people looking for natural weightloss methods, the Cornell study indicates that the key to losing weight naturally and keep it down is to (re)learn how to tune in to the body’s natural signals of satiety.

For instance, practicing yoga regularly appears to facilitate natural weightloss over time, because yoga attunes people to the subtle nuances of the body’s signals, including hunger and satiety signals that they may have drowned out over many decades of poor eating habits. 

A growing body of research supports the correlation between yoga and weight loss. While not all yoga styles are vigorous enough to burn off loads of calories, yoga has other qualities that help keep with natural weightloss. According to research Dr. Alan Kristal, associate head of the Cancer Prevention Research Program at the Hutchinson Center, and author of one study on yoga for weightloss, yoga makes practitioners more aware of their body, and more sensitive to when to stop eating before they’ve eaten too much.

With nearly 65% of Americans being overweight, 30% obese and over 4% severely obese, everything we can do to keep our weight to healthy levels is critical. Since most weight problems arise simply because people tend to eat too much, the easiest way to natural weightloss may also be the simplest: learning how to reconnect with our body and its natural signals telling you when you’re full.

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