Do you find yourself watching the clock until “dinner time” and getting so hungry that you end up over-eating and feeling uncomfortable?
Maybe it’s time to check in with your hunger and fullness levels using the hunger scale.
What is the hunger scale?
The hunger scale is a simple scale of 1-10, where each number correlates to a level of hunger or fullness. It can help you listen to your body’s signals and make you more aware of why you are eating.
How do I use the hunger scale?
The hunger scale can be used at three points (before, during and after a meal) to help you take note of where you are.
1. Rank your hunger before you start to eat
Ask yourself “Am I really hungry?”. If your hunger is a ‘3’ on the scale, you can start eating. If you think you are a ‘4’ on the scale, wait half an hour and assess again. By not waiting too long, it may make it easier to thoughtfully choose what you would like to eat and eat until you are satisfied.
By eating regular meals you can avoid reaching ‘1’ or ‘2’ on the scale. At ‘1’ or ‘2’ on the scale, you can experience a loss of control, overeat, make poor food choices, and easily reach a ‘7’ or more on the scale.
2. Rank your hunger level again halfway through your meal
During the meal, eating slowly can help you recognise the feeling of fullness. Once you reach a ‘6’ and are satisfied but not uncomfortable, you should stop eating. Some individuals may continue to eat past this point because there is still food on their plates. Instead, push your plate away, ask for a to-go box or freeze leftovers.
3. If you continue eating, finish your meal and rank your hunger again
If you are comfortably satisfied at the end of your meal, you have likely chosen the right portion sizes for that meal. If you find yourself reaching an ‘8’ or more on the scale, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, question why you continued to eat past the point of fullness. Were you a ‘1’ or ‘2’ on the scale when you started? Did you continue to eat until your plate was empty to avoid waste?
Using this tool can help you reconnect with what the feelings of physical hunger and fullness actually feel like.
Let us know in the comments below where you rank your hunger usually.