How we eat is often a habit we develop in childhood. Some of us come from households where you must eat every bite on your plate at every meal. Others are taught to leave something on their plate at the end of every meal. Because we’re brought up to see meals as something with rules, we don’t learn to listen to our body signals. Whether you leave a little food on your plate or eat it all, you learn to ignore the signs that indicate you are full.

Similarly, when you are brought up to eat on a regular schedule, you learn to ignore the signs that you are hungry outside of that schedule. And for many of us, we learn never to be hungry because we have set meals and snacks throughout the day that prevent us from ever truly being hungry.

Not recognizing those signals in your body sets you up for anxiety and stress, should you ever wish to change your eating habits. If you want to go on a diet to lose weight, for example, you may find yourself feeling hungry for the first time, which can be frightening. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people who are trying to change their diets for any reason to discover they get anxious and fearful when they are hungry. If left unchecked, that fear can lead to compulsive overeating.

If you are not prepared to handle those hunger pains, you may easily give up on your diet to avoid them and then over consume food.