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Are you Really Hungry? Getting Back In Touch With Your True Hunger.

Posted Jul 27 2010 9:40am

Did you know that when we are born that we have an instinctive ability to eat only what we need?  At this time period of our lives, we only eat when we are hungry and refuse food when we are satisfied.  Sadly, a lot of us loose this ability as we grow up, and some of us get so far away from it that we end up adding a lot of unnecessary fat to our bodies.  We are taught to ignore our signals of fullness and we stop relying on true hunger cues to signal us that it is time to eat.

It shouldn’t surprise you, if you have read about my journey , if I tell you that I am one of those people who lost this ability and it lead me down the unhealthy path to morbid obesity. It wasn’t until I began to put conscience effort in recognizing my true hunger that I was able to get on the path to better health when it came to my eating habits. Below you will three strategies that can help you start getting in touch with your true hunger.

The first step in learning to listen to your true hunger is recognizing the difference between psychological and physical hunger. For those out of touch with their true hunger, the two are hard to recognize.

Psychological Hunger: Is not caused by an actual, physical desire or need for food to survive. Psychological hunger is caused by a craving to eat either out of habit, because you see food around you, because you are feeling some type of emotion, or because you like the taste and/or you are associating eating as a fun activity. It is simply the desire to eat, accompanied by no physical proof that it is necessary at that moment.

Physical Hunger: Are physical feelings of emptiness in your stomach, rumbling accompanied by weakness. This is what I mean when I say true hunger.

Because recognizing true hunger (your physical hunger from your psychological hunger) can be difficult. Keeping a food journal where you list not only what you ate but you include a rating of your hunger level before and after eating can help give you a clearer picture. A rating scale I like to use is “The Hunger-Satiety Rating Scale” from Why Weight? A Guide to Ending Compulsive Eating by Geneen Roth.

Satiety 10 = Stuffed to the point of feeling sick
9 = Very uncomfortably full, need to loosen your belt
8 = Uncomfortably full, feel stuffed
7 = Very full, feel as if you have overeaten
6 = Comfortably full, satisfied
Neutral 5 = Comfortable, neither hungry nor full
4 = Beginning signals of hunger
3 = Hungry, ready to eat
2 = Very hungry, unable to concentrate
Hungry 1 = Starving, dizzy, irritable

Once you have been keeping your food journal with your hunger rating you can start to see patterns of where you have stopped listening to your true hunger. These are times where you are eating past a level 6 on the scale above. For example, let’s say, you find that you are often putting off eating until you are at a level 1 or 2 and find that you tend to fed yourself all the way to a level 9 each time you do that. Or maybe you see that every night you choose to snack after dinner but you are at a level 6 when you start eating but you eat the snack anyway out of habit. It is noticing trends like the one above that can help you make adjustments to your current eating patterns so that you aren’t going overboard.

Questions for You:

  • Why do you think we end up becoming out of touch with our true hunger?
  • What tips do you have staying in touch with true hunger?

Quote of the Day: “Habit is either the best of servants or the worst of masters.” ~ Nathaniel Emmons

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