How do I know if I’m hungry?

how do I know if I'm hungryThe need to eat can be a powerful urge. There are a bunch of triggers to eating.
One of them is hunger.
For many of us though, the signals can get a tad confusing.

I’m sure you have experienced HUNGER. Maybe you have been on a super restrictive dietary plan and felt like you could eat your arm off you were so hungry? Perhaps you were caught out and didn’t have anything in the cupboards to cook for dinner one night? Maybe you got busy at work and forgot to eat and then…..whoah. Massively hangry! (personally I get the hangry thing) :)

Let me be clear:

  1. If you feel physically hungry it really is OK to eat. There is ABSOLUTELY no need to starve yourself and no need to feel guilty about eating anything . EVER.
  2. The key is to figure out if you are actually physically hungry

How do I know if I’m hungry?

There are times hunger comes because we genuinely need some fuel in our body. There are many times we want to eat or feel hungry due to other factors.

Hands up if you can recall a time you…..

  • ate when you were bored?
  • ate when you were stressed?
  • ate when you were sad?
  • ate because you were just so damn happy?

Yep. There are many triggers to eating besides physical hunger. Thirst, happiness, joy, sadness, boredom, stress, anxiety, fatigue are just some of them.

1. The hunger scale

Physical hunger has signs within our body. Those folk who struggle a bit with overeating and/or undereating tend to ignore or are perhaps not as in-tune with those signals.

If you have done any reading on non-hungry eating or mindful eating you may have seen the hunger scale. This is a scale (from 1-10) designed for you to rate your hunger.

                                            ←                →

 1 = really hungry       2           3            4            5            6            7             8           9              10 = really full


1 is usually super hungry and 10 is usually super full. By honing in on hunger and documenting your hunger when you eat, you start to realise:

a) the times you ate until you were uncomfortably full or
b) the times you waited too long to eat

Slowly, it brings awareness to when to start and when to stop.

2. Learning to listen REALLY CLOSELY to your body

The hunger (and fullness) scale is a great place to start with identifying hunger . However, what if you hate paperwork and numbers? Or what if you can’t tell what number you are at? 

—> You can up your mindfulness skills :)

Mindfulness means “being aware and awake to the present moment” (Thich Nhat Hanh). So if you want to get more in touch with your hunger,  it’s time to get more mindful with your body.

One great thing you can do is think about what signals your body actually gives you when you are:

  1. Hungry – for me it’s headaches and being a bit irritable (aka hangry)
  2. Full – for me it’s a distention of my stomach or if it’s Christmas Day – unbuttoning of my jeans! ha ha

Pausing a little before eating and recognising what signs and symptoms your body is giving you, gives you more tools in your mindful eating tool belt.  You eat not only the “right” amount of food needed for you at that time but also “the kinds of foods” your body most needs.

What signals does you body give you?

image credit: Alisa Anton
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  1. Pingback: Why does mindful eating work? |SOL nutrition blog

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