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How Good Are You At Assessing Your Hunger and Fullness Cues?

It sounds pretty straightforward, right? Eat when you’re hungry and then stop eating when you’re full… But in reality, this is more often than not easier said than done.

There are so many day-to-day factors that can complicate these cues - emotions, mood, routine, food availability, social settings, trends and diet culture, as well as physical changes.

So often in the clinic, I see clients who are completely out of touch with their hunger and fullness signals and as a result are eating way too much, not eating enough, eating when they aren’t actually physically hungry or are confusing other symptoms for hunger.

So if you’re looking to make some changes to your eating habits, getting to know your own hunger and satiety cues will go a long way in helping you to get started and ensure you are responding effectively to your body’s needs.

The above scale helps clarify some of the ambiguity that comes along with measuring hunger cues because it gives you a range to work with, as sometimes translating feelings or symptoms into specific words can be tricky.

The first step to using the scale is to get to know your own body. How does it communicate hunger? What about slight hunger? What does it feel like? And on the flip side, what does fullness feel like? When do you progress from being comfortably full to uncomfortable?

The next step is to start approaching meal times more mindfully. You do this throughout the day (before meals, during meals, and after meals) by checking in with yourself and taking note of where you feel you sit on the scale. Giving yourself the best opportunity to respond appropriately.

For example, if you’re scoffing your dinner whilst at your desk/distracted/in front of the TV/running around and you’ve not given any thought to how hungry you actually are before you dive in, and then inhale your meal without even checking in with yourself whilst eating, you have a very low chance of responding effectively.

So! Before eating, assess how hungry you are, make a choice and plate up your meal/snack accordingly and then get slowly and mindfully, with your attention ideally just on the food and how you feel in your body while doing so.

Now, side note, when we are checking in with ourselves to assess how we feel, it is really important that we do so without judgment or criticism. This is purely for self-awareness and to help us understand our minds and bodies a bit better, not as a way to judge ourselves. Every day will be different in terms of our hunger and fullness, so there is no ‘perfect’ here. It’s just a case of meeting your needs on any given day, as best you can.

The more you check in, and the more you pause and reflect, the easier it will be for you to notice your cues without even having to intentionally check in and as a result, you’ll find yourself much more in control of your eating.


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