The goal of utilizing the hunger scale is to learn more about your body, without judgement. This includes the signals your body is giving you, what hunger feels like in your body, how to support your body around hunger/food, and discovery of any patterns that aren’t supporting your wellness.
Ideally, we would stay within the happy tummy zone but often when we are not connected to our hunger signals, we will go from one extreme to the other. Getting below a level 3 hunger, can be dangerous territory. You may experience being “hangry”, are more likely to eat things that don’t make you feel great, and react to the extreme hunger by eating to the point of being overfull. Getting beyond a 7 or for some an 8 in fullness is more likely to cause discomfort, bloating, and indigestion. If you find yourself regularly eating to a 9 or a 10, or frequently letting yourself get to a 2 or a 1, it can be helpful to look at the surrounding circumstances, your stress level, etc., without judgement to see what is contributing to that pattern.
The hunger scale can also be used for planning ahead. It is helpful to pay attention to how long it takes you to get from 5-4, 4-3, 3-2, to help with planning for meals in the future. If you know it only takes 15 or 20 minutes for you to get from a 4 to a 3 or 3 to a 2, you will want to be sure when you start to seek out food when you are at a 4, or if you are at a 4 and have two hours for dinner, you might want to eat a snack. On the fullness end, its helpful to know that if you eat to a 7 you may be hungry in 3-4hrs, so if you are eating dinner at 5pm, eating to a 7 and then not planning to eat again before bed at 11pm, you might find you are too hungry at bedtime. You may want to consider eating to an 8 or planning to eat a snack.
Overall the hunger scale is a guide to learn more about your body. Using it can be every helpful as long as it is with a lens of curiosity and without judgement. I hope you enjoy my colorful take on this powerful tool.
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The first step to healing our relationship with food is reconnecting with the signals our body gives us. One of the ways to do that is by checking in with your hunger before you eat. Here's my spin on the traditional hunger scale.