A Simple Way That Can Help Prevent Overeating!
Don’t you wish that your stomach came with a gauge to tell you when it was full or near empty? Even better, would be a gauge of how many calories you needed to lose or maintain your weight! Too bad the scientists haven’t come up with that yet! But, there is a tool that can help you tune into your hunger and fullness meter, so you don’t eat too much or wait too long for the next meal. It’s called the Hunger Scale!
What Is A Hunger Scale?
We are born with the ability to feel hunger and fullness. Babies and little kids don’t need to be told how much milk or food they need to consume; instead, when they are satisfied, they become disinterested in food and simply stop eating. As we grow older, this ability becomes blunted—we learn to ignore it, confuse it with thirst or forget it altogether.
Fortunately, we can train ourselves to listen to this ability again by visualizing a Hunger Scale. Imagine a meter ranging from 0-10, with zero being empty and ten being stuffed full! Everyone will have their own definitions, physical experiences, and symptoms of what hunger and fullness ranges look like, here is a reference point and further explanation of a sample.
0 = Empty
You want to eat anything and everything in sight. You may have low blood sugar because you feel dizzy, lightheaded and flat-out hangry! (slang for: so hungry you’re angry)
1 = Nearing Empty
Your energy levels are low, and productivity is down. You may feel shaky and have poor concentration and mood swings.
2 = Really Hungry
The empty feeling in your stomach is dominating your thoughts. You need to find some food fast, and your energy levels are dropping. You’re more likely tempted to order unhealthy food at a restaurant and make poor food choices.
3 = Hungry
It’s time to eat a meal, and if you wait any longer, you will start to feel physical symptoms that are not pleasant.
4 = Slightly Hungry
You are beginning to think about your next meal. You can wait to eat but, if you eat now, it won’t take much to fill you up.
5 = Neutral
You are neither hungry nor full. You’re not thinking of food.
6 = Slightly Satisfied
You can tell there is food in your belly, but you could eat more. If you stopped now, this meal might not last you longer than two hours.
7 = Satisfied
You’re no longer hungry. While it may be easy to eat more for comfort reasons or because the food tastes amazing, you feel content and satisfied, and you don’t need to eat more.
8 = Full
You’re full, and you might have to loosen your belt at this point. Those last three to four bites put me over the edge.
9 = Nearing Uncomfortable
You overate. Polishing off that whole meal was not a good idea. It’s easy to zone out and disconnect from conversations at this point because all you can think about is how full your stomach feels. You may even begin to feel nauseated.
10 = Stuffed
You’re feeling beyond stuffed. You might need to find your sweats or some other baggy clothes to get comfortable. Sleeping sounds like the perfect activity.
How Do You Use The Hunger Scale?
Using the Hunger Scale can help you with mindful eating and lessen the chances of emotional eating. Here’s how it works.
1. Rank your hunger right before you start to eat.
If you’re really, really hungry and rate yourself between zero and two, pay extra attention to how fast you are eating. Eating too fast can zip you right past eight and up to the uncomfortable areas. Purposely slow down so you don’t pass through the satisfaction range and so you can really enjoy the food.
2. Halfway through your meal, rank your hunger again.
As you progress through your meal, continue to check in with your satisfaction level. Don’t eat on autopilot and clean your plate. Keep in mind, it may only take a couple of bites to start to feel satisfied.
3. If you continue eating, finish your meal and rank your hunger again.
If you now at a comfortable satisfaction level at the end of your meal, it’s likely that you chose the right portion sizes for that meal! Way to go!!
If you find that you’ve overeaten, realize that it happens, even to intuitive eaters. Don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty. Instead, question why you continued to eat past the point of fullness. Maybe you were overly hungry when you started. Or the food just tasted so good.
Using the Hunger Scale can be tricky at first. If you’ve been overeating or under-eating for a long time, it may need to re-calibrated. A great way to recalibrate it is through eating balanced meals with appropriate portions and following a pattern of eating every four hours or so.
If you would like some help with this, let me know!