Ask yourself why we eat, and the answer seems obvious at first: Because we’re hungry, of course. But we all know there’s more to it than that. If we only consumed food as an answer to hunger, and then stopped eating when we were full, most of us wouldn’t struggle so much with weight gain. We probably wouldn’t ever need a weight loss plan, either. Yet, most of us need assistance with nutrition and weight loss at some point.
Why? Because human beings eat for many reasons other than hunger. We eat for social reasons, emotional reasons, or even boredom. Sometimes sleep deprivation triggers cravings. So if you’re following a weight loss plan, one of your first tasks should be to learn about the different reasons you eat, and how to identify and manage those situations.
A hunger scale can help you with this task. On the hunger scale, 0 means you’re absolutely starving and 10 means you’re uncomfortably full. At most times you should fall somewhere in between those two extremes. Nevertheless, using the scale to identify emotions and then eat in a conscious manner can prevent you from overindulging in unhealthy or unnecessary snacks. Here’s how to use the hunger scale.
Before eating… Rate your hunger on a scale of 0 to 10. Obviously, you shouldn’t even eat if you’re feeling above a 5 or 6. But if you rate yourself 0-2, remember to eat mindfully. When you’re starving it can be easy to eat too quickly, and become overstuffed without meaning to.
Stop eating halfway through, and rank yourself again. You should stop eating once you begin to feel full (a 6 to 8) so that you don’t reach a 9 or 10 (uncomfortably stuffed). This step is especially important to those of us who were raised to “clean our plates”, so that you can learn to recognize your own fullness signals.
Rank yourself again when you finish. If you do continue to eat after the halfway point, rank your feelings again when you finish the meal. On the occasions that you find yourself overly full (a 9 or 10), refrain from judgement but do use the situation as a learning opportunity. Why did you continue to eat past your comfortable fullness point? What can you do differently next time?
This strategy might sound a bit unnecessary, but it can be a helpful tool early in your weight loss plan. By learning to recognize hunger and satiety, as well as other emotions regarding your eating habits, you can start to eat more mindfully and break old habits. Call our office to schedule an appointment, and we will discuss your weight loss plan in more detail.