How To Listen To Your Hunger

The path to intuitive eating is paved with many insightful and challenging concepts.

One that I’ve grappled with is becoming aware of my hunger and fullness.

The concept is simple, yet was not often used by me - when you get hungry, eat. When you start to feel full, stop eating. Repeat.

Old Thinking

1. If I don’t eat when I have the chance, I’ll eat something that’s ‘bad’ for me.

The fear here is that if you miss your chance to eat, you’ll make a ravenous, unhealthy decision when you have access to food and overeat.

Think ‘I need to eat before I go to this meeting’ as an example - even if you’re not actually hungry.

2. If I don’t eat as soon as I get hungry, I’ll eat something that’s ‘bad’ for me.

Girlfriends of mine have confirmed they have almost identical thinking. Similar to the thought above, you’re afraid you’ll be caught unawares if you get too hungry and will be unable to stop eating.

As soon as you feel an inkling of hunger, you take care of it.

It’s really a fear of being hungry or, even more deeply, a fear of scarcity.

3. If I don’t finish my meal, I’ll regret it later and be hungry again too soon.

I admit I still hate wasting food, but I apparently didn’t like listening to my body either...

Rather than eating until satisfied, I would usually eat whatever portion size was in front of me. It was mostly out of concern that I’d get hungry again too soon if I didn’t finish my food then and there. Crazy right?

Through Finally Free and Paige from Healthy Hits the Spot, I’ve learned to listen to my hunger via a scale of 1 to 10.

The recommendation I follow is that I eat when I’m a 4 out of 10 with hunger (stomach starting to hurt/rumble) and I eat until I’m a 7 out of 10 (starting to feel full/hunger is satiated).

New Thinking

1. I don't need to eat on auto pilot.

Once I started using the above scale, I realised that I was following an eating routine day in, day out. For example, I usually don’t need my mid-morning snack and can wait until lunchtime before I became a 4.

I was used to constantly preventing the hunger and eating at those routine times.

Now I wait for the signs from my body.

2. I look forward to hunger.

How good is it when you eat when you’re truly hungry? Rather than thinking of hunger as a bad thing, I now look forward to it.

I know I’m going to enjoy my food so much more when it’s meeting that need of stopping the rumble in my stomach.

3. I can stop eating when full and enjoy the rest later.

This one is a challenge for me, but so rewarding when I follow through.

If you’re really enjoying food but have reached a 7 and have some left (even just 2 bites...), put it away for later.

Those last bites (pushing you beyond a 7) will never taste as good as finding the delicious leftovers in the fridge later that day or the next day and enjoying it (as a 4) fresh, all over again.

You will enjoy it so much more when you’re hungry, rather than piling it onto an already full stomach.

Do any of these thoughts ring true for you?

Do you listen to your body when it comes to hunger?