The hunger scale is a useful tool to help become more aware of the body’s signals for fuel. Once I started practicing using a hunger scale I realized how many times I was eating just because I felt like it was time to eat. I realized how often I had habits of putting bites in my mouth when I wasn’t hungry at all. A piece of cheese while waiting for dinner to be ready, a handful of nuts before bedtime, a morning snack when I was bored at work. Cleaning my plate even though I was full. It all adds up.
Using the hunger scale can help you tune back into your body’s needs. It’s a way to eat when you get a little hungry and stop when your satisfied but not full. If you have fat to lose you have stored calories on your body. Allowing yourself to get a little hungry before you eat allows your body to tap into those fat stores and use them for energy. When you eat every two or three hours you don’t allow your body to use up those energy resources.
There are many different versions of hunger scales you can find on the internet. This one is how I think of my own hunger scale.
Start listening to your own body’s signals. What does a -2 feel like for you? How does your body feel when you are satisfied at a +2 but not full. Journaling this at each meal can be helpful. The more you practice the sooner you will find the sweet spot. Your goal is to stop at satisfied. Satisfied is where your body is telling you it has had enough. I spent years thinking I needed to get to full each meal. This one tweak – stopping at satisfied – helped me break a months long plateau and has continued to help me make good choices.
When this is dialed in you will have more and more opportunities where you do not overeat. Be prepared to leave food behind. It’s OK to not eat the last few bites if you are satisfied. Even if it’s broccoli. Using this tool can help you learn to stop when having a treat. It can help you learn not to overeat when out to dinner. Some of the physical signs of “satisfied” I noticed were subtle. I tend to sigh when I am approaching satisfied. If I pay attention and stop a few bites later I find that it is perfect. If I am moving past “satisfied” I start picking out the good parts of my food. That’s a good signal from my body that I am no longer eating for fuel but for entertainment.
It takes a while to get it dialed in. Feel free to comment below with any questions you might have about the hunger scale.
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