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Food Noise

What is Food Noise and How Can I Silence It?

By Karen Kelly, R.D. | January 18, 2024

Food noise is a term used to describe constant thoughts about food or a preoccupation with food that can be overwhelming or disruptive to daily life - that persistent inner voice chattering about cookies even though you just had lunch. When experiencing food noise you may not necessarily feel hungry, but you are still thinking or obsessing about food. It’s different from hunger. Hunger is physical whereas food noise is in the mind. 

If you’re struggling with food noise, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. There are steps you can take to quiet the chatter and develop a healthier relationship with food. 

Learn Your Physical Hunger Cues

Learn your body’s natural signals of hunger and fullness rather than relying on external cues. Pay special attention to your physical hunger cues so you can differentiate them from food noise cues. When you're physically hungry, practice mindful eating. I always recommend sitting down to eat at a table without watching TV or using a cellphone. Limit distractions to allow yourself to focus on the flavors of your meal and how you’re feeling while you’re eating. Savor each bite.

Healthy Food Habits

One way to regulate your hunger cues and food noise can be to adopt habits that help you make better food choices. If there’s one specific food that you simply cannot resist, try keeping it out of the house or out of your sight. Always have healthy snacks such as cut up vegetables, low-fat cheese sticks and yogurts on hand to snack on, and use smaller plates when possible, portions appear larger when on a smaller plate.  

The  Importance of Sleep

 Did you know not getting a good night’s rest can cause you to feel hungrier and consume more calories in a day? Leptin and Ghrelin are two hormones that help regulate hunger and satiety.  When you get a restful night's sleep, it allows your body to regulate the amount of these hormones.  Sleep can also impact how your body regulates insulin. Insulin is the hormone that helps regulate your blood sugar.  Making sure that you are active, getting outside and some sunlight daily can help you get good quality sleep as well. Aim for at leas 7 hours of sleep per night and try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day to keep your body on a routine. Keep your bedroom dark and relaxing, put your phone down a couple of hours before bed, and avoid large meals too close to bedtime to regulate your sleep as well.  

How Weight Loss Medication Can Help

Weight loss medications like Wegovy® and Zepbound™ can help quell the food noise. These medications are referred to as GLP-1 agonists. One of the ingredients in these medications, semaglutide, can affect the area of the brain that controls appetite. It works by targeting hormones in the brain and body that regulate hunger and satiety -the feeling of being full. It helps patients feel more in control, which enables them to make better choices without always feeling distracted by food. GLP-1 medications also make you feel full quickly, and with improved hunger control and food noise at bay, patients are able to make healthier choices with their meal. 

Working with an RD

If you feel overwhelmed with food noise, I encourage you to make an appointment with a registered dietitian. Working with a registered dietitian can help you not only on your weight loss journey but also with anything that pops up along the way to your goals. We are able to tailor behavior modifications and offer solutions to individual dietary problems that you may have that will work for you. 

Ready to make an appointment? Give our office a call at 908-481-1270.

Karen Kelly, RD, is a registered dietitian at New Jersey Bariatric Center, a medical & surgical weight loss center with offices in Springfield, Somerville, Hoboken, East Brunswick, Hackettstown and Sparta, New Jersey. She provides pre-operative and post-operative nutritional counseling to New Jersey Bariatric Center’s Gastric Bypass, Gastric Sleeve, LAP-BAND (gastric band) and revision patients, in addition to dietary counseling for patients in our Medical Weight Loss program.
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