How often do we hear people say , “ I am always hungry “ or “ I am never hungry “ … Quite so often ,isn’t it ? .
Feeling of hunger is often described as “growling stomach or discomfort in stomach, coupled with the desire to wanting to eat “
Those of you who know, the term “Hangry” .,know what I mean ..So often this term is described with physical signs like:
…and just wanting to raid the fridge
This is often considered as an extreme hunger.
Why do we get hungry?
This is a very complex process but in very simple terms, this is a mechanism between our brain and body, telling us ….Hey, I need more energy to function .Get me some food!
Through the internal hunger and fullness signals our brain tells us when to eat and when to stop eating.
Ghrelin is known as a hunger hormone that is produced and released mainly by the stomach with small amounts also released by the small intestine, pancreas and brain. It has several functions but one of the main function is to help stimulate appetite .
When eating. We do not just eat to be physically full; we eat for mental satisfaction as well; as this does play a role in managing the hunger hormones and develop regular hunger signals.
So, how do we know, when it is time to eat?
Hunger scale is a great tool to help us get attuned to our body to understand when it is time to eat but also helps us understand when to stop eating whilst feeling satisfied.
Interpreting hunger scale:
1: Beyond hungry, you may start having ‘hangry ‘symptoms.
2: Very hungry: Irritable /cranky, with little energy /may feel nauseous
3: Stomach feels empty and urge to eat is strong
4: You may start thinking about food .Your body is giving you the signal that you might want to eat.
5: You feel physically and psychologically just starting to feel satisfied.
6: you are fully satisfied and full up
7: You are past the point of satisfaction but still find room for little more time when your body says no, but your mind says yes sort of feeling
8: You probably know you should not have had more, but it tastes good.
9: you feel discomfort from eating more.
10: Beyond full…typical feeling of after Christmas day meal…Can’t move and never want to see that meal again …Not a good point to reach.
How to use Hunger scale?
Ask yourself ‘Am I hungry ‘, at about level 3-4?
Use the hunger scale to decide your level of hunger .I suggest having something to eat when you reach level 3-4 and eat till you feel you have reached about level 5-6.
Slow down during your meal and reassess your level of hunger in-between. It may take a while before you learn and attune to your hunger signals .So be patient.
Always remember that you can always eat more if you’re hungry later .You do not need to overstuff yourself for later.
One of the very common mindset I see in clients is skipping meals for cutting down calories to help lose weight or have a busy day and no time to eat. etc. etc.!
Unfortunately ,this type of habits in a longer run can make you lose your natural hunger signal and lead to negative relationship with food .But also make you hangry (level 6-7).
What should I do if I feel very hungry (level 6-7)?
This tends to happen if you ignore your hunger signals or skip meals.
To help you prevent over eating at this stage, try the following:
1: Eat a small snack like fruit or cracker to reach hunger level 3
2: Wait for 10-15seconds
3: If you still feel at level 3, eat your planned meal to reach level 5-6.
Hunger scale is a tool to help you learn to listen to your body and its requirements. It is not a hard fast rule to get to any perfection.
It never is about a cookie cutter diet plan to help you achieve healthy you, but is about listening and understanding what your body is trying to tell you of its needs.
So, try this tool and you’d be amazed how it helps balancing your hunger, fullness and satiety. This is essential to break the diet mentality and develop healthy relationship with food.