How many times have you found yourself reaching for a snack when you know you’re not actually hungry?
I’ve been guilty of doing this so many times.
If you’re trying to lose weight and eat healthier, it’s important to learn how to listen to your body and use the hunger scale before you eat.
What is the Hunger Scale?
A hunger scale is a mindful eating technique that involves paying attention to how hungry you feel before you eat.
It’s a way to rate your current hunger level to judge if you’re actually hungry or just reaching for a snack out of boredom.
If you learn to only eat when you’re actually hungry, you’ll lose weight easily and avoid unwanted calories.
What Makes You Hungry?
As our bodies digest food, a number of factors occur that make us hungry.
This includes a drop in your blood sugar, how empty your stomach is, and different hormone levels in your body.
When your blood sugar drops, this signals your body to release the hormone ghrelin. Ghrelin then tells your brain that you’re hungry.
As ghrelin increases, so does your hunger level (Source: Current Obesity Reports).
What are The Physical Signs of Hunger?
It’s important to learn to recognize what hunger actually feels like.
Although this may feel different for everyone, in general, hunger usually involves a rumbling sensation in your stomach.
You may notice a drop in your energy level and some crankiness.
Benefits of Eating When You’re Hungry
Food tastes better.
Think back to the last time you ate a meal when you were actually hungry. How good and satisfying did every bite taste?
Now try to think about a time you ate a meal when you weren’t actually that hungry. You may have enjoyed the meal, but it probably didn’t bring the same physical pleasure because you weren’t as hungry.
You Are Less Likely to Overeat
When you learn to wait to eat when you’re hungry (but not ravenous), you are less likely to overeat.
Once you become more attuned to your body’s hunger level, you’ll also be able to recognize your fullness level. As your stomach stretches from the food you eat, your stomach will signal your brain that you’re no longer hungry.
Alternatively, if you eat when you’re not actually hungry, your stomach will already be stretched. Your body won’t adequately tell your brain when you’re full since you weren’t hungry to begin with.
The Hunger Scale
One of the best ways to lose weight is to learn how to pay attention to your hunger scale.
This way, you’ll eat when you’re hungry and learn to stop eating when you’re satisfied, but not overstuffed.
Think of the hunger scale as numbers 1-10.
1 or 2 are beyond hungry. You make have a headache, feel weak, shaky, irritable. You might feel like you may pass out or need to lie down.
This is not a hunger level you want to be at.
3-4 are when you’re stomach is empty, you’re thinking about food and you start noticing some grumbling of your stomach. This is the level you want to find something to eat shortly.
5 is neutral. You’re not thinking about food. You’re not necessarily full, but you’re also not hungry.
6-7 are where you want to be at the end of the meal. You’re satisfied, but not uncomfortably full.
At a 6 you could eat a little more, but you don’t feel like you need to. A 7 is pleasantly full.
8-10 uncomfortably stuffed. This is the range you end up in when you overeat. You probably feel like you need to rest for a bit. You may feel sluggish, heavy and dragging.
If you constantly eat to the point of an 8-10, you’ll most likely gain weight.
How To Use The Hunger Scale
The next time you’re reaching for a snack, take a moment to reflect on your hunger level.
Try to place your hunger level on the scale and see if you’re reaching for a snack out of boredom or if you’re truly hungry.
When you learn to apply the hunger scale every time you eat, you’ll be on your way to living a healthy lifestyle without counting calories or dieting.
If you’re new to eating healthier, you’ll love these tips on clean eating for beginners.
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