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Often we eat mindlessly, even when we aren’t hungry. In fact, many of us are out of touch with really knowing when we are hungry (the meal skippers) or when we’re actually full (the overeaters).

But it’s no wonder we are confused; everywhere we go these days we are tempted with the 24/7 availability of food. In our parent’s or grandparent’s times, food just wasn’t as available and most people stuck to three square meals a day.

That’s why it’s so important to re-learn our hunger and satiety alerts. Believe it or not, we were born with these cues. Notice how most babies and toddlers (and often older children) just naturally eat only when they’re hungry, and stop when they’re comfortably full (rather than overstuffed).

Learn to Distinguish and Tolerate Real Hunger

To do this, try using the ‘hunger scale’:

The Hunger Scale

  • 1)  Starving (“I’m ravenous and my stomach is rumbling loudly”)
  • 2)  Uncomfortably hungry (“I’m becoming weak and grumpy”)
  • 3)  Very hungry (“I’m ready to eat now.”)
  • 4)  A Little Hungry (“I am still noticing my hunger”)
  • 5)  Not yet full, but not noticeably hungry either (“My mind is on things other than food”)
  • 6)  Satisfied and light (“I could eat more but I’m satisfied”)
  • 7)  Slightly too full (“I feel a little uncomfortable”)
  • 8)  Very Full (“I ate more than I needed.”)
  • 9)  Too Full (“Now I’m feeling very heavy and uncomfortable”)
  • 10)  Christmas dinner full (“I’m in a food coma!”)

Avoid the common weight loss mistake of waiting until you’re starving to eat, then overeating when you do. Aim to stay in the range between No. 3 (very hungry) to No. 6 (satisfied and light). And remember, if you have eaten recently (ie. 1-2 hours ago), then it’s unlikely that you are actually hungry. It may be more likely to be down to emotional hunger, stress or boredom.

When you start to listen to your body more closely, you will notice the signals of real hunger. Eating every three to four hours helps with awareness of hunger and will help to reduce food cravings – this will naturally keep you out of No. 1 & 2. Slowing down your eating – and making sure it lasts at least 20 minutes – will help you to avoid Nos 7, 8 & 9.

Eating mindfully and understanding your necessities is key to have a successful weight loss journey.