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Hunger Test…Is it Your Stomach Growling or Something Else?

Pciture source: Flickr, by Sifu Renka

How do you know that you’re really, really, hungry or reaching out for food–like these amazing looking cupcakes–out of boredom, anxiety, frustration, for pleasure, or any other psychological emotion?

Try the apple–sometimes called the carrot–test.

Registered Dietitian Lisa Raum, owner of R.D. to GO, LLC in Virginia, explains the test. “If it were an apple, you’d eat it no matter what because you’re truly hungry and you need fuel.
If you can afford to say “Nah, I don’t want this,” then you’re looking to eat solely for pleasure, for example because of boredom, need for comfort, etc. In this case, catch yourself and think twice.”

I admit that I’m a great candidate for the test. At 4 pm after a long day: kids didn’t nap, both crying at the same time, messy house, piles of laundry, and I’m trying to put something fast together for dinner. At that point, I just want to pop a piece of chocolate in my mouth. No, not to satisfy hunger, but for stress relief. To calm my nerves down.

It works. It’s not real hunger though. That’s when the apple test comes in.

I told this to one my dietitian friends, Madeleine, who gave me a seasoned-mom advice. “It’s ok to eat the chocolate,” she said. She made the point that I at least am aware and will address it when the right time comes.

Danielle Sexton, also a registered Nutritionist, would probably agree with Madeleine. “I don’t know if the apple or carrot test promote intuitive eating. It may be a good way to make an unconscious eater more conscious, but it may not help teach someone to listen and respond to their body’s true cravings.”

Maybe that’s the key. Acknowledge the drive, the craving. Whether you decide to act upon it (eat what you’re craving) or say “nah” might depend on the situation. If you decide to go with the craving, watch that portion. One bite of chocolate will do the job. No need for the whole bar.

What do you think? Have you used the apple or carrot test? Does it work for you?

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