Still hungry after eating? Wait 20 minutes.

I've learned there is a difference between being mentally and physically hungry. Understanding the difference can keep us out of trouble when it comes to not overeating and maintaining our weight. There's a delayed reaction to when we've filled our tummy and when the tummy reports back to our brain that yes, it's finally full. 

The trick is to wait. 

Jack Kenefick, a Newport Beach, California-based nutritionist, trainer and president of Balanced Life Wellness explained that it takes about 20 minutes for levels of Ghrelin, a stomach hormone to level off after we eat. Once it does, life is beautiful. Until then, our stomach is a coal furnace of hunger, demanding more food. The challenge is that our stomach has not emailed our brain to tell it that all is well down below.

That's why it's important to slow down when we eat. Jack advises his clients to stop mid-way during a meal and if necessary, walk away from the table. Let time pass, and often, what our brain perceived as being hungry corrects itself. It's good advice, as we often eat too fast, and don't stop to focus on how we're eating.

One problem many of us suffer is that Ghrelin stimulates the desire for high calorie foods, and is often at the root of binge-eating desires. We might not need food, but Ghrelin is that little devil on our left shoulder yelling at us to make a fast-track to that quart of Cherry Garcia ice cream or chocolate cake you swore you'd throw away. If you can tell the difference between mental and physical hunger, you're a long way toward managing your diet and weight. 

So at your next meal, slow down. Get up and take a break during your meal. And after you've eaten, wait 20 minutes before thinking of eating anything else. And if you're trying to grab a quick bite while you're on the go or racing through an airport, remembering this can keep you on your diet. You might be amazed at how this can help.

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