4 Steps to Learn Your Hunger Cues

One of the 10 Principles of Intuitive eating is using your hunger and fullness cues, but what does that actually mean? How do you do that?

After years of fad dieting, I kind of lost touch with my physiological signs of hunger. I ate when society said it was “time to eat”. If I was hungry at 11:00am, I’d avoid it like the plague until the clock striked 12:00pm. I used to treat hunger as a “bad thing”–because I associated eating as a “bad thing”. Now that I have a healthier relationship with food and myself, I am able to eat when I am hungry and stop when I am satisfied, and you can too! Use my 4 Steps to Learn Your Hunger & Fullness Cues!

Hunger & Fullness Cues
Learn you Hunger & Fullness Cues

Use a hunger/fullness scale before, during & after meals
When you are first learning your hunger/fullness levels, it is important to use some sort of scale to keep your hunger in check. On a scale from 1-10, how hungry are you? how full are you? are you satisfied? Ask yourself these questions before, during and after a meal or snack to help you gauge your true hunger. The goal is to be completely satisfied with your meal–not hungry or overly full. This is not only to keep you physiologically full  until the next meal, but also to help you keep your mind off of food.

Hunger & Fullness Scale
Hunger & Fullness Scale

Journal before and after your meals
As cheesy as it sounds, this can be your most helpful tool in re-learning your hunger & fullness cues. When you use the hunger & fullness scale, write about it! Before your meal, document what level of hunger you’re experiencing. After your meal, note what level of  fullness you’re experiencing. If you are not satisfied, figure out what you can add to your meal to appease your hunger. If you are miserably full, write down how you can prevent that from happening in the future.

Hunger & Fullness Cues
Journal before & after meals while learning hunger & fullness cues

Avoid starvation: use practical hunger
Practical hunger is essentially eating something when you’re not physically hungry to prevent overidulgence later. For example, if you are not very hungry at 12:30pm but you know you won’t get to eat again until 6:00pm, use practical hunger to tide you over. When using practical hunger, choose foods that will nourish your body with at least 2 of the 3 macronutrients. This will keep you full for a longer period of time.

Slow down at meals
Take time to really enjoy your food. It will not only make your meal more enjoyable but also allow your hunger to catch up with your brain. When you take your time at meals, it allows you to feel hunger satisfaction before you reach the “over full” stage, preventing overindulgence.

A note on overeating:
It happens. Try not to beat yourself up about it. Our bodies can handle some overeating here and there–we learn from it and move on. It takes time in the beginning when you’re learning how to correctly use your hunger/fullness cues. Give yourself grace and learn from your experience. Eventually, you will know your body so well that overeating will happen less.

 

I challenge you to learn your hunger & fullness cues. Take it one step at a time, and you’ll eventually become fully in tune with your body’s hunger.

 

Remember! If you’d like to receive my email newsletters for more easy + balanced eating ideas & food freedom tips, subscribe here! Tell your friends 🙂

 

Until Next Time,

Happy Chewing!
Katrina Detter, RD, LDN
Registered Dietitian
Follow me on social media!
IG: @balanced.nutrition.dietitian
FB: Live Better with Kat Detter
Twitter: @katrinadetterRD

 

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