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Lose weight by learning your body's hunger cues

Doctors for USA WEEKEND

Quit obsessing over calories, forget the get-thin-quick plans, and when you want a chocolate chip cookie, have it (without guilt). 

Becoming more attuned to your body’s hunger and fullness signals, also known as intuitive eating, is a strategy that works, science suggests. Research published in Public Health Nutrition found that women who scored high on the intuitive-eating scale had significantly lower body mass index. Some tips:

Don’t deny. If you deny yourself food to the point of becoming famished, good intentions not to overeat fly out the window. Respond to the first signs of hunger, but make sure you’re eating for physical need, not as a fix for anxiety, loneliness or boredom.

Recognize fullness. Your body will send signals when you’re satisfied. To tune into them, put down your utensils occasionally and ask yourself how the food tastes. If it’s not as good as when you dug in, you could be done, or close to it.

Allow “forbidden” foods. You know what happens when you tell yourself you can’t or really shouldn’t have that dessert, right? You crave it that much more; and if you give in, you’ll probably overindulge, maybe go back for seconds and then feel guilty for “being bad.” Overall, you want to choose nutritious foods, but you don’t have to eat a perfect diet to be healthy. Give yourself permission to eat that treat and savor each bite — it’ll probably take fewer bites to feel satisfied.

Accept your gene-given shape. Just like you can’t expect to shove your size 8 feet into size 6 shoes, you have to be realistic about what a healthy body weight is for you.

Get active. Don’t worry about how many calories you’re burning or making sure you exercise for a specific amount of time. Find your motivation to work out by focusing on the effects — how much more energy you have or simply how good it feels to move your body.

The Doctors is an Emmy-winning daytime TV show with pediatrician Jim Sears, OB-GYN Lisa Masterson, ER physician Travis Stork, plastic surgeon Andrew Ordon, health and wellness expert Jillian Michaels and psychologist Wendy Walsh. Check www.thedoctorstv.com for local listings.

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