Health & Fitness

The docs: How to eat only when you’re hungry

“The Hunger Games” may have finally satisfied young-uns’ ravenous appetite for terribly tragic teenage tales. The $110 million U.S. opening weekend take of “Mockingjay Part 2” fell short of the four-part series’ record-breaking $158 million opening two years earlier. Seems some folks don’t feel the hunger anymore.

Now, if you’re battling excess weight, diabetes and associated health issues, you want to learn to recognize when you’re NOT hungry, too.

A new study reveals that eating when you’re moderately hungry (as opposed to not hungry -- you know you eat then, too) keeps glucose levels significantly lower! For folks with insulin resistance or Type 2 diabetes or for those who are overweight, this helps avoid blood sugar spikes and all the health problems they trigger. But how can you recognize when you are NOT hungry and eat only when you really ARE hungry?

If you’re dying to eat something (probably sweets or carbs), ask yourself this: “Would I gladly munch on an apple?” If not, chances are your craving has more to do with emotions than physical hunger. Dispel that feeling with physical activity or meditation, not food. And put 10 minutes on your smartphone timer: When it’s up, check to see if you still want to eat. (We’re betting not!)

Also, drink up! Dehydration can feel like hunger. Finally, learn to recognize the onset of moderate hunger by asking yourself, “Am I actually hungry?” “Does my tummy feel empty?” You’ll be surprised at your answer! Hunger is no game, and being able to gauge it correctly can save your life.

Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of “The Dr. Oz Show,” and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into “The Dr. Oz Show” or visit