LET YOUR BODY, NOT YOUR BRAIN, DETERMINE HOW MUCH YOU’LL EAT.

If you think eating healthy means trying to consume a little less than you’d like to, ask yourself how well that really works. Eating less than you want is uncomfortable, and as anyone who has ever dieted knows, you can’t undereat without eventually overeating.

So what would happen if you didn’t put the brakes on your appetite? You might find that you enjoy your meals more, that you spend less time thinking about food between meals. And, contrary to expectation, you might not gain weight.

Natural sensations of hunger and satiety can be surprisingly effective at regulating food intake. To become more attuned to these feelings, make a point of eating before you’re ravenously hungry. “If you’re ravenous, you can’t stop when you’re comfortably full. I’d suggest that you not go longer than five hours without eating,” says Evelyn Tribole, R.D., coauthor of Intuitive Eating: A Recovery Book for the Chronic Dieter (St. Martin’s Press). “As you eat, pause midmeal and ask yourself, What is my fullness level right now? It’s sort of like taking your pulse: With practice you get better at detecting where you are on the satiety continuum comfortably full, getting there, still hungry.”

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