Make healthier eating your goal this year

A new year is a time for re-evaluating our health and habits. If your goal is to lead a healthier lifestyle, one great place to start is the food we eat. A key strategy for maintaining a healthy body weight is better understanding the two types of hunger that drive us to eat.

The first type of hunger is body hunger, which is a physiologic need for food. This type of hunger is regulated by hormones in the gut, blood sugar and fat tissues. Strategies to manage body hunger include eating regularly, consuming balanced meals and limiting our consumption of foods high in sugar and fats.

The second type of hunger is reward hunger, which is our desire to eat even when we don’t feel physically hungry. This type of hunger may include stress eating and emotional eating. Another area of the brain drives the body to use food as a way to cope with stress or other emotions. To manage reward hunger, it is important to identify what triggers it and what actual need the body is trying to satisfy.

“Redefining your relationship with food is one of the keys to long-term success,” explains Sandra Elia, food addiction counsellor. “Do you eat to nourish and energize your body? Or do you use food to achieve a feeling? Eating for comfort or to relieve stress can become problematic, but developing healthy coping skills and finding new ways to manage cravings help tremendously.” 

If you can identify the triggers that cause emotional eating, it’s possible to control them. But sometimes will power is not enough. In those cases, there are prescription medications available to help control food cravings. Family doctors are able to advise which is the most appropriate for their patient.

“When used in combination with lifestyle modification such as reduced calorie diets and exercise, medications can help patients lose weight and keep it off,” says Elia.

If you have concerns about excessive weight, speak to your family doctor and find more information at

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