Honoring Your Hunger and Fullness

Who are you being when you eat?  Do you eat when you're not actually hungry because it's noon and you're mentally programmed that at noon it's time to eat?  Do you eat too little or too much for your body's energy needs? 

My intention is for you to have a deeper understanding of this.  So the place I want to start is what I call honoring hunger.

How do we honor hunger? Honoring hunger is about recognizing what happens internally before you get hungry. So Instead of waiting until you’re so hungry you could eat a horse, you tune into the internal signal that the body needs nourishment.

It’s kind of like the gas tank on your car. There’s a buffer zone when you get in the red. When the gas light first appears, depending on your car you may have 20-30 miles to go before you actually run out of gas and come to a stop.

We don’t want to wait until we run out of gas to eat. Because that’s when the crazy unleashes. That’s when you are super hungry. That’s when your eyes glaze over and you slump in your chair? When you’re unable to do anything. When you maaaay become reallly bitchy?

Aaaand you could end up eating things that you wouldn’t normally choose to eat simply because it’s within reach and you feel desperate. Basically, if you let yourself get too hungry, it’s almost impossible to think clearly or make good decisions.

The need to feel full becomes so irresistible you’ll eat almost anything—five pieces of toast, a candy bar, a whole pint of ice cream, a bag of chips... And even after you eat all that, you may still feel unsatisfied because it wasn’t a real meal.

The body’s appetite mechanism is still searching for the meal, and it won’t shut down until you’ve had what feels like a meal.

So, the first step is to recognize the hunger.  If you're on the email list, you've received the cheat sheet for this post.  If you're not on the list, get on it here.

2 - is where the gas light would come on.  It's the indicator that it's time to plan for nourishment... 10 would be psycho-crazypants-hungry.  We don't want to let it get past a 5 or there's a good chance you'll be setting yourself up for poor food decisions or a binge.  Start to plan for food when you are at a 1-2.  Does that make sense?

Now let’s talk about honoring fullness. We can also create a fullness scale from 1-10. 

10 is so stuffed that you need to unbutton your pants to breathe. What we’re looking for is a 7 on the fullness scale. 7 is where you are nourished and energized from food, satiated not stuffed. And the thing is – people will ask – how do I know when I’m at a 7?  Well, it does take a little practice and a little intuition.

Just noticing – am I eating this next bite for pleasure and indulgence or am I actually needing more fuel? And there is no judgement in that – it’s just being curious about it and being mindful. Having a measurement of what eating for energy really means.

Because if we tip over a 7, the indulgence feels good, it feels pleasurable, it certainly makes us happy, but it’s kind of to the point of diminishing returns… because we’re asking our bodies to do extra work.  To break down those food your body has to assimilate or eliminate, right? So at that point the extra food will either be eliminated (IF our bodies are working really really smoothly) or it will get stored as fat.

So basically, it means eating to about 75% fullness. Don't worry.  You'll get it.  Here are 6 ways you can practice: 

  1. Start planning what and when to eat when you are at a level 2 on the hunger/fullness scale.
  2. Eat high-energy foods that your body wants.
  3. Eat for energy (aim for Level 7 on your inner intuitive scale, versus a Level 10 when you’re so full you have to unzip your pants)
  4. Make a physical gesture that your meal is complete by pushing your plate away, putting a napkin over it, or crossing your silverware.
  5. Declare out loud to yourself or whomever you are eating with that you are full. This will dissuade you from continuing to eat because you’ve already announced that the meal was complete for you.
  6. If you’re out, ask your server to box up the rest of the meal so it’s not calling to you.

OK - that's it for today! 




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