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One of the skills you  develop as you become a mindful eater is learning to identify when you are truly hungry, and when you want to eat just because it’s meal time. We have been conditioned to eat three meals a day at specific times so, as a result, we think we need to eat when those times arrive.

As it turns out, you don’t have to eat just because it’s lunch time. In fact, you will do your body a favor if you don’t. What kind of favor, you may be asking? Simple: digestion takes a lot of energy. If you eat when you are not hungry, you will be adding food to your body’s digestive load. Instead, give it a rest. Notice if doing so gives you more energy, more ability to concentrate and more focus.

So, what do you do if it’s lunch time and you are not hungry for lunch? You have a few options. You can eat lunch mindfully, knowing that you are not, in fact, hungry, but are choosing to eat anyway. Or, you can skip lunch and eat later, when you are hungry. If this is the only time you have to eat and are concerned that you might get hungry at an inopportune time, have a small snack now. Eat your snack mindfully to buy yourself some time before your hunger returns.

Over time, as you learn how best to feed your body, you may find yourself eating less food earlier in the day so that you are hungry at lunch time. So, the next time the clock strikes 12:00, ask yourself, “Am I really hungry, or do I just want to eat because it’s lunchtime?” and then make the mindful choice.

Do you eat according to the clock?

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