Sign up

If You Wait Just Fifteen Minutes…

You may realize you’re just not that hungry…

Have you ever heard of the Fifteen Minute Rule?

As an R.D. who has worked with many clients on Intuitive Eating… I’m embarrassed to say I have never heard of this before.

I’ve used the concept of “waiting it out” but never applied an actual time to it.

I read about this rule on Christie’s blog. If you haven’t read her blog before… you should check it out. She has some great views on Intuitive Eating.

I think its safe to say that we all eat for emotional reasons.

Here’s a little recap of what emotional eating is:

Emotional eating is eating for reasons other than the true feeling of physical hunger. Emotional eating is feeding our feelings, not our hunger. Reasons we may eat can include anxiety, loneliness, boredom, sadness, happiness, celebration, stress, etc… and any other reason you can think of that you eat other than hunger. We’re basically eating to fill a void. Emotional hunger can arrive suddenly, while physical hunger builds up and comes on gradually. When we eat to fill a void we often reach for “comfort” foods. For some, this may be high starch/carb laden foods. Emotional hunger often needs to be satisfied instantly.

Is it hard to wait fifteen minutes?

So, what if we waited just fifteen minutes? Would we still eat even though we’re not hungry? When I say emotional eating, I’m not talking about that piece of chocolate we have after a meal, or that spoonful of ice cream we have to satisfy a sweet tooth. I’m talking about eating a larger quantity of food to fill some type of void, even though we’re not hungry.

What if we waited fifteen minutes and sat with those emotions. When I say “sit with our emotions” I’m talking about figuring out what we’re feeling. Why do we want to eat when we have no hunger pangs? What really going on inside.

I’ll use myself as an example.

I have urges to eat for emotional reasons when I’m lonely or really bored…. but mainly lonely. It took some time to figure it all out, but when I sit with my feelings for a while (fifteen minutes) I can actually figure out what the issue is and fix it. I wish I could tell you this is easy… but its not. The easy thing to do is eat. The hard thing to do is actually dealing with the reason why you want to eat. The really hard part is that deep down inside, we really like the idea of eating, and may even use whatever emotion we’re feeling as an excuse to eat. That’s why this is so hard. You have to really want to make it work.
I have a little challenge for you….
This weekend, every time you feel like eating when you have no hunger pangs, take fifteen minutes to yourself and wait. Wait it out, and if you still want to eat after fifteen minutes… have a little, and enjoy it 🙂
Question for you:
Do you think you could wait for fifteen minutes. I’ll admit… this is pretty hard to do… but once you figure it all out, its such a great feeling!

9 Responses

  1. christie @ honoring health said on May 14, 2010 at 7:45 am

    Great post and thank you for your high compliments!

    The 15 minute method is pretty intense because we want to distract ourselves instead. But, I’m proof positive that it works.

  2. Jessica @ How Sweet said on May 14, 2010 at 8:35 am

    So true. I have had to do this in the evenings this past week. I have just wanted to munch and munch and munch!

  3. Sarena (The Non Dairy Queen) said on May 14, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I think I am hungry when I am bored. I do wait it out if I know that is what is going on. I typically make something that takes a long time so that I can’t really eat until I am hungry. I will also get up and moving…just doing something helps distract me from being bored and thinking that I need food to entertain me.

  4. Anne @ the doctor takes a wife said on May 14, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I need to implement this rule–I am SUCH a big emotional eater. Thanks for reminding me!!

  5. Nicole, RD said on May 14, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    Yep! It works for me! If I’m at work and feel like I’m getting hungry, I instinctively reach for a snack laying on my desk (moving it would be wise!). I sometimes think, “I’ll wait a few minutes to see if I’m still hungry…” and typically I get busy, move on, and don’t snack!

  6. Danielle (Coffee Run) said on May 14, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    It would be hard to wait 15 minutes. I still get confused with whether I’m still hungry, whether I should eat more because I ran, or if I just want to eat because it tastes good. I’ll try waiting it out 🙂

  7. Nicole @ Making Good Choices said on May 16, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I’ve heard of this, but I usually know if I’m really hungry or not. I try to occupy myself with something else to see if I’m really hungry and if it doesn’t work, time to eat. Have a relaxing Sunday.

  8. The Candid RD said on May 16, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    I think the 15 minute rule is important, but only if you really don’t know what hunger feels like. For example, many people don’t know the difference between “appetite” and hunger. In that case, waiting 15 minutes is good because it’s most likely your appetite talking, NOT your stomach! I used to not really know the difference, but now I do. And when I’m hungry, I eat. I do tell my clients this rule though, and don’t feel bad, I haven’t known about this whole concept for very long. It’s new to me too!

  9. Bruce said on May 21, 2010 at 12:35 am

    I need to implement this rule–I am SUCH a big emotional eater. Thanks for reminding me!!