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January 27, 2020

Learn the Hunger Scale to Know if You’re Hungry

Do you have trouble deciding if you’re really hungry or just trying to fill some other kind of need? Even though eating is a common part of life for all living things, the psychology behind it is notoriously complex. If you want to be more in control, it is a great idea to gain some of the tools that you can use to get a handle on your eating habits. Continue reading to learn the hunger scale to know if you’re actually hungry.

It’s Important to Eat Slow
One of the important things about using a hunger scale is that you must eat somewhat slowly in order for it to work. This allows you to truly know where you are on the hunger spectrum. For example, you could eat the first course of a meal and rest for about 5 minutes. This will give your body the chance to adjust to the food that you have just eaten. As you eat, be sure to be honest with yourself about how you feel. Honesty is essential for your growth in this self-study. Research has shown that eating over a 20 minute period will give you enough time to experience fullness.

The Hunger Scale
The true purpose of a hunger scale is to eliminate the possibility that you are eating for a psychological reasons, and only for physical hunger. Below, you will find a basic hunger scale.

  1. Starving, low blood sugar, dizziness
  2. Very hungry, fatigued, frequent stomach growls
  3. Hungry, some stomach growls, but not quite frequent yet
  4. Beginning to feel hungry
  5. Sated, not hungry
  6. Nice feeling of fullness
  7. Slight discomfort
  8. Somewhat stuffed
  9. Stomach pain
  10. Nearly sick or vomiting

As you can see, if you’re experiencing a 5 or 6, you can probably go without eating a while, but if you’re at a 1, then you might want to eat something soon. If you frequently find yourself at 9 or 10, then that is why you are experiencing weight gain, and it’s even more likely that you are engaging in emotional eating.

During Meals
You can also use the hunger scale during meals to tell you if you should quit eating or continue with seconds. The key is to eat slowly, so that your body has a chance to register the food that you are eating. Pay close attention to how you feel. As soon as you get to a 5, definitely stop. If you don’t stop eating at that point, you could easily end up at an 8 or a 9, so be sure to stay focused on your hunger.

Have you ever used the hunger scale or another method to practice more mindful eating? I’d love to hear about your experiences. Please leave a comment below

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Dr. Monique Belton

Executive Coach and Clinical Psychologist, Monique Belton, Ph.D. helps empower people to create their dreams.

Dr. Monique Belton

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