The body is giving us signals all the time to clue us in to what it needs. When we are dehydrated, we get a dry taste in our mouths to tell us to drink. When we have to go to the bathroom, the bladder gives us a clear signal that we need to void. Interesting enough, we have been equipped with a very similar system that tells us when we need to start eating and when we should stop. Although we can override the signals to void and drink, most of us are clear about what those signals are and we usually obey them.
So what about eating? We have ignored our innate signals to start eating so much with rules-don’t eat after 6pm, you have to eat breakfast within an hour of rising, you must eat lunch at noon…many of us have lost all concept of listening to our bodies as the best way to guide when and how much to eat.
Most notice the growling of the stomach. Others experience an empty feeling in the stomach, some start salivating, others get a headache. For me it begins with an awareness of “my stomach is empty, I need to go eat.” Then it graduates to the growling stomach, then foggy brain where I can’t concentrate. If I ignore all of those signals, I will get a headache. Do you know what your signals are? Do you know the different severity levels?
The Physical Hunger Scale
NOTE: These are not hard, fast rules, but general guidelines to help you regain a sense of listening to what your body is telling you. If at any time you feel restricted, like you are on another diet. STOP. Go back to eating when you are hungry and stop when you are comfortably satisfied, but not stuffed and don’t worry about the numbers.
By the Numbers…
- 0 not hungry or satiated-usually not thinking about food
- -1 tiny awareness that you are getting hungry, you may want to start preparing your snack or meal
- -2 The point where you want to consider eating so you don’t get too hungry
- -3 is when my stomach starts to growl
- -4 I become foggy headed; can’t concentrate
- -5 weird taste in my mouth careful- too hungry can lead to poor choices because at that point anything will taste good and you will usually eat it so fast you’ll blow past the signal to stop.
- On the + side
- +1 starting to feel full
- +2 satisfied, stomach not too full,
- +3 can feel pressure in my stomach from the food
- +4 even more so, but uncomfortable.
A New Way to Journal
Don’t try to change what you are eating right now. Just take note.
Questions to ask yourself before you eat and notice what comes up for you…without judgment
- What am I thinking? Or Why am I eating this?
- Notice if you are using external or non-physical cues to tell you it’s time to eat (i.e. the clock, habit, argument, an emotion)
- What it my number on the hunger scale?
- How do I want to feel after I eat this?