You’ve probably heard over and over again “eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full.”
Good advice, but often people tell me that they don’t even know what hungry feels like. They either feel hungry all to time, or can’t decipher if their “hunger” is true hunger or emotional hunger. Many people on their weight-loss journey have lost their ability to even know what real (ie biological) hunger feels like.
And it’s more common than you think.
The Clock Strikes 12
For some people it’s simply because they’ve never allowed themselves to be hungry. They eat all the time. Or they eat simply because it’s meal-time. The clock say’s 12 noon so they just eat. They’re not really hungry, but they’ve been eating at this time for so long they actually think they’re hungry. But their body isn’t giving them the signals. They have just been on autopilot for so long, that they believe they are hungry but in reality their body is not.
Food, Food Everywhere
We live in a society today where food is around all of the time. Any time of day, any day of the week, you can easily get food. So we can eat at all hours of the day. And there’s no longer eating ‘hours’ for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It is completely acceptable to “eat” at all hours of the day.
This was something different I experienced living in France. If I wanted to eat lunch, whether it be in my office at work, or on the weekends while strolling around town – cafeteria’s, restaurants, canteens, etc where only open during lunch hours. And I would be hard pressed to find a vending machine anywhere.
There are other ‘voices’ of hunger like eating to fill emotions. And emotional eating is one of the top reasons diets fail. But when you divert your attention from whatever is causing you angst (like a bad day at the office) by eating, you’re often just making the problem even worse.
And the food can act like a drug. Eating can take the edge off what ever is going on, similar to the way a drink does for alcoholics, but unfortunately this tactic is a temporary fix at best. After you’re done eating, you still have to deal with the original problem.
But know that the first step to “finding your biological hunger” is to listen to it.
Now it sounds/feels different for different people. Remember, we are all unique so just like eating patterns, biological hunger varies for everyone.
In the beginning, you might be able to recognize ravenous hunger (when you’re so hungry you could literally eat anything), but have difficulty recognizing gentle hunger pains.
So here are some tips to help you recognize when you are hungry:
- mild (or loud!) rumbling in the stomach
- very low energy, feel a bit faint
- uncomfortable stomach pain. It feels really empty
- difficulty concentrating
Another tool to use is the Hunger Scale. It’s a way to help you identify your hunger and get in touch you’re your body’s inner signals.
If you’re not familiar with the hunger scale, it a scale of 1 to 10. With 1 being extreme hunger (you feel so hungry you could literally pass out) to 10 being beyond full (like after eating Thanksgiving Dinner). The neutral point is five. At 5, your body has enough fuel to keep it going and you’re more or less satisfied. You could eat a bit more, but physically your body is fine.
Every time you eat, check your hunger level. Ideally, for you to be truly hungry, you should be at a 3 or 4. If you’re 5 or above, you’re not biologically hungry.
So begin to really listen to your stomach, and not what the clock says, not what your ‘head’ is telling you, and not because you’re feeling some type of emotion.
It’s all a part of what’s called intuitive eating. Eating when you’re really hungry, stopping when you are full, and listening to your body. If you can start listening to your true hunger signals and eat because you are physically hungry, then you are slowly on your way to honoring your hunger and
Part of eating intuitively is knowing what hunger feels like, honoring it, and giving it (and your body) the proper nutrition it needs.
Want to learn more about listening and honoring your hunger, how to stop when you’re full, and how the heck to really listen to your body and give it what it needs? Want more insight into knowing when you’re truly hungry? Then be sure to register for my upcoming f.r.e.e. call where I’ll be covering this and MORE. Learn how YOU can listen to your hunger and your body and lose weight in the process. Get all the details here.