Quick! On a scale of one to ten, how hungry are you?
I was introduced to the “hunger scale” recently in my nutrition class. As an exercise, we had to keep track of everything we ate and drank for three days. We also had to report how hungry (or full) we were, before and after we ate anything.
Consider a 1 as “I’m going to pass out unless I gnaw my neighbor’s arm off” and a 10 as “I’m so stuffed I need to buy elastic pants before I puke.” A 5 is neutral.
The idea is to help you make the connections of when, why, and how you eat. Are you eating because you’re truly hungry? Bored? Being social? Are you skipping meals and then binging later?
As you get further from your previous meal, your hunger level will drift towards the lower numbers. When you eat, of course, the number goes back up. The goal is to never drop below a 3 or 4, and never go above a 7 or 8.
If you are at 1 or 2 each time you eat, you’re waiting too long between meals, and you’ll be more likely to overeat, hitting 9 or 10 before you stop.
By eating less food more frequently, you’ll stay within a narrower range on the scale throughout the day. You’ll increase your metabolism, and feel more consistently satisfied, comfortable, and energetic — instead of weak and hungry (or bloated and lethargic).
Although it’s a bit tedious, this is definitely a worthy exercise, helping restore (or reinforce) a connection between your mind and your stomach.
Image by The Green Album.