Do you often find yourself eating past the point of fullness, eating when you’re not hungry, or ignoring your hunger when you’re trying to lose weight? If so, using a simple tool called the hunger scale can get you more in tune with your body and help you naturally lose weight.
Keep reading to learn how to use the hunger scale and how it can help you become a more mindful eater.
What is the Hunger Scale?
The hunger scale, also known as the hunger fullness scale, is a tool to measure your hunger level on a scale of 0 to 10. This scale can be a really helpful tool to help you identify when you’re actually hungry and when it’s time to stop eating.
If you’re like the majority of people, you may not be eating solely out of hunger. You may be eating when you’re stressed, anxious, bored, or because of the environment you’re in. I also have some clients who simply eat out of habit when they engage in a certain activity (like watching TV at night).
But this type of mindless eating is one of the biggest barriers to weight loss.
This tool can help you to lose weight by becoming a more mindful eater, reducing the likelihood of emotional eating or eating out of habit. You’ll also become more aware of how you feel before and after eating, and learn how to listen to what your body needs.
How to Use the Hunger Scale
Here is an example of a hunger scale and what it looks like: (insert infographic similar to this one)
When using this scale, you want to identify where you are on it before you decide to eat or stop eating.
The hunger portion of the scale ranges from 1-5, with 5 being neutral (neither hungry nor full) and 1 being starving.
5 – neutral, neither hungry nor full
4 – early signs of hunger, you’re starting to feel interested in eating
3 – you’re feeling more hungry, more urgency in the need to eat
2 – starting to get very hungry, nausea, growling stomach, low energy
1 – starving, ravenous, starting to feel dizzy or weak because you’re so hungry
When you’re at a 4 or 3, this would be the ideal time to start eating.
The fullness portion ranges from 6-10, with 10 being overly full and uncomfortable, and 6 is when you’re starting to feel satisfied.
6 – satisfied – you’re starting to feel full but you could eat a few more bites
7 – feeling completely full and satisfied – you could eat a bit more but you may get uncomfortable
8 – stuffed – you feel too full and have some mild discomfort or bloat
9 – uncomfortably full – you are way too full, feel heavy or tired, or have stomach pain
10 – painfully full – you feel overstuffed, in pain or nauseous, or feel disgusted at the thought of food
When you’re at a 6, this is when you’ll want to slow down or completely stop eating. If you stop at a 6 and after 10-15 minutes later you’re still hungry, it’s okay to have a few more bites.
It may take some practice to remember to use this tool and to use it effectively, but it can be immensely helpful in building healthy eating habits. I help my clients learn how to use this tool and then hold them accountable for incorporating it into their daily lives.
How Can The Hunger Scale Help You Lose Weight?
If you often wait too long to eat and then overeat because of it, the hunger scale can help you prevent this.
Or if you frequently eat when you’re not hungry, then you are giving your body calories it doesn’t need. The hunger scale can help you identify when you’re truly hungry or just eating out of emotions.
If it’s emotions, then there are plenty of things you can do instead of eating such as drinking water, breathing it out, or going for a walk.
The hunger scale is meant to be used as a guide to help you to eat more mindfully. Remember that you don’t have to be perfect. For example, maybe you’re at number 4 and starting to feel a bit hungry, but not yet ready to eat.
However, you have a work meeting coming up. In this case, you may want to eat because it can help prevent you from overeating later on. Even though you may be eating a bit earlier than you may “need” to, this is going to prevent you from becoming starving and then overdoing it once the meeting is over.
Awareness Leads To Weight Loss Results
If mindless eating is getting in the way of your weight loss goals, you need to become aware of your hunger and fullness cues. This can help you naturally lose weight and increase your self-awareness.
Your body is smart – it will tell you what it needs if you are able to listen to it. The hunger scale helps you do just this, by giving you the opportunity to check in with yourself and ask yourself where you are on the satiety index.
Satiety is a measure of fullness and satisfaction with food – the goal is to be satisfied and be able to stop, not eat past this and become uncomfortable. I help my clients learn to identify when to start and stop eating so they are giving their body what it needs to feel their best.
If you struggle with overeating, contact me to see if my weight loss program is a good fit for you. I’d love to help you get your eating habits under control and in a place that helps you feel your absolute best.