These are stories that I’ve heard – in one way or another – from a lot of clients. We often forget to pay attention to how our body is feeling, and instead eat according to outside cues, our misconceptions about weight loss, and/or emotional reasons. This often results in lots of extra calories consumed over the long term and a loss of an ability to connect with how your body is feeling. It’s important to reconnect with your body’s signals and tune into those cues for hunger and satiety.
A hunger scale can be a great tool to help you become more in tune with your body’s signals. It forces you to stop and assess your hunger and fullness before you eat and during the meal. This creates a more mindful eating pattern. Here is a hunger scale which is based on a 1 to 10 rating:
10 – You’re beyond full. You feel physically uncomfortable, nauseous, may be in pain and/or not want to move.
9 - You feel ‘stuffed’, you’ve eaten way beyond comfort. You may have a slight stomach ache or feel bloated.
8 – You ate more than you needed to eat – perhaps “just a few more bites” after you felt full – and may be starting to feel uncomfortable.
7 – You ate until you felt feelings of fullness.
6 – You are comfortably satisfied with the amount you’ve eaten, but not full.
5 – You feel comfortable – neither hungry nor full.
4 – You are feeling slightly hungry, starting to think about food.
3 – You are feeling hungry – your stomach might be rumbling and you would like to eat soon – but you are not yet uncomfortable.
2 – You feel very hungry and may be irritable; you’d like to eat very quickly.
1 – You feel starving; you may be experiencing feelings of fatigue, ‘brain fog,’ or headaches. You may have a hard time concentrating and feel weak.
I’d encourage you to try this out each time you find yourself reaching for food. Ideally, you want to be eating when you’re around a 3 on this scale. You don’t want to eat at a higher number when your body doesn’t need it, and you want to prevent getting down towards the 1, as this is when we tend to make poor choices (it’s hard to think about healthy snacks when you’re starving!) and overeat.
Along the same lines, pay attention to how you’re feeling while you’re eating. Stop eating when you feel like your body is at a 6. Remember, it can take your body 20 minutes to feel full or satisfied, so eat slowly and pause frequently to ask if you are at that level. Avoid getting to an 8, 9, or 10 as this is where you may feel physically uncomfortable and you probably ate more calories your body needed.
You may find that using this tool feels a bit foreign at first, and that’s okay. Keep at it, and implement it regularly!
Share with us: Have you tried using the hunger scale?