THE HUNGER & FULLNESS SCALE
The Hunger & Fullness Scale combines two very effective practices to bring about great results:
Mindful Eating is about bringing an awareness, and self-compassion to your eating habits, and food choices. Fast paced living, and a world full of distractions, like electronic devices keep us zoned out. When we become more present, regulating appetite and weight becomes natural.
Intuitive Eating is centred around listening to your true appetite and bodily signals. Diets interfere with this internal communication system by giving us rules on how to eat, but when we are able to re-develop the skill of listening, we can decide what is best to eat for ourselves, and regulate our weight with relative ease.
HOW TO USE THE HUNGER & FULLNESS SCALE
Throughout the day, get used to asking yourself, “where am I on the hunger and fullness scale?” It is best not to let your hunger go to a level 2 or under.
When you are just about to eat, ask yourself, “Where am I on the hunger and fullness scale?” A level 3 or 4 is an ideal number to eat.
Set an intention of what number on the scale you would like to stop eating at- a level 7 is often the most comfortable, and sets us up for regular hunger cues a few hours later.
Halfway through your meal, stop eating – put your food/cutlery down, and take a few moments to ask, “where am I on the scale now, and how many bites am I away from reaching my end of meal number?”
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THINGS TO WATCH OUT FOR
THIS ISN’T A DIET:
If you get it ‘wrong’ then it’s ok. Eating above a certain number on the scale, or, going under is ok. Just try again next time. In fact, it’s almost guaranteed that it won’t all go smoothly. Expect some turbulence and offer yourself some compassion and understanding before you set out on this journey. Consistency is the real key to success here.
HOW LONG SHOULD I DO IT?:
There is no set time limit. You might keep it as a tool for life that you go back to in tough spots, or maybe you might just decide to do it for a few days, or weeks, and that’s enough for you. Use it as long as it serves you. I’m still using it, and it’s brilliant for me!
WHAT IF YOU CAN’T EAT FREQUENTLY ENOUGH:
Not everyone can eat with strict regularity. That’s just life. We all have commitments. In the case of you knowing that you are not going to be able to eat for a long time after the current meal, you might consider eating a little more than is the most comfortable, to say a level 8. Yes, you’ll be over full, but you are also anticipating a lengthy period without food and so it could also be called prudent planning. Making an intention to do so makes it an act of mindfulness that is far different from mindless numbing out, and overeating.
On the other hand, you might even prepare your mind mentally to endure the hunger and still eat until a level 7.
Which do you prefer? I like to try both depending on the occasion.
DO YOU HAVE TO EAT UNTIL A LEVEL 7/8?:
By no means are there any iron rules. You dictate your limits. Just be mindful that if you just eat to say, a level 5/6, you may not be hungry anymore, but you will not be full for long either. Many diets encourage this kind of eating. If you enjoy eating every hour then by all means do it, but maintaining a level 5/6 will likely have you craving food for much of the day, and frequently dropping to a level 4 and below.
WHAT IF YOU DON’T FEEL PHYSICALLY HUNGRY?:
Many people are not immediately aware of their hunger. Interoceptive awareness is the ability to be in tune with physical sensations in your body. You may not therefore feel hunger immediately by your stomach. Instead, you may notice it by other physical sensations like headaches, shakiness, stress, shallow breathing, feeling anxious, irritable, and many other bodily signs. I know for myself that I lose all sense of joy. Caffeine is one of my main perpetrators that blocks all signs of appetite in me, and so I have to look for other signs like those listed. However, by the time you feel one of these signs, it can sometimes be too late. If you’ve gone more than 3-4 hours with no food, try to anticipate that you might need something, if not now, then soon.