Hunger Scale: Know When to Start and Stop Eating
It can be easy to get in the habit of overeating, especially while we spend so much time at home. Overeating can cause digestive discomfort and can also get in the way of our healthy eating goals. We can use the hunger scale to help ensure that we keep the commitment we’ve made to a healthier lifestyle and reduce our chance of overeating.
What is the hunger scale?
The hunger scale is a numeric scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being extremely hungry and 10 being extremely full. Because this technique requires us to stop and think about our internal hunger and satiety cues, we can learn to disregard external cues that tell us to overeat. The key to using the hunger scale is eating when you are reasonably hungry and stopping when you are comfortably full.
When do you start/stop eating?
The hunger scale tells us at a number 1, we may feel shaky, or even a bit nauseous. This is your body’s way of saying it needs fuel. And at a number 10, we may feel uncomfortably full. The best time to start eating is at a number 3, hungry enough to eat, but with time to plan what to eat. The best time to stop eating is when you are at a number 6, satisfied, but still able to eat more.
How can you use the hunger scale?
Try closing your eyes and forgetting about all of the distractions around you. Wait a moment to really get in touch with how you feel, then think about how your feelings of hunger fit into the scale.
- 1-2 -Starving (at risk for overeating)
- 3-4 Gentle Hunger (Body’s internal cues telling you it is time to eat)
- 5-6 Comfortably Full (Body signals it has had enough food)
- 7-8 Very Full (Eating beyond biological need)
- 9-10 Uncomfortably Full (Eating for non-hunger reasons)