In the last intuitive eating blog we discussed principle one, rejecting the diet mentality. The next principle we will discuss as part of the intuitive eating process is honoring your hunger. This means keeping your body feed with adequate energy and nutrients, including enough carbohydrate, the ultimate fuel. Excessive hunger can lead to a primal drive to overeat. Honoring your hunger is a building block to re-establishing trust with yourself and food.
Many clients tell me they never feel hunger or don’t know what gentle hunger feels like. Years of dieting may have caused them to deny hunger and tune it out or numb it with calorie free beverages or other tricks to temporarily fill the stomach. Others ignore their hunger due to chaos in their job or daily life. The good news is you can began to tune into your body and begin to feel hunger cues again. Here is a list of sensations or symptoms (from Intuitive Eating) that you can begin to tune into your body’s cues.
- Mild gurgling or gnawing in the stomach
- Growling noises
- Difficulty concentrating
- Uncomfortable stomach pain
- Feeling faint
Any combination of these may indicate hunger ranging from gentle to ravenous. Every time you eat, start the habit of asking yourself: “Am I hungry? What’s my hunger level?” If you are having trouble identifying if you are hungry, try asking “When was the last time I ever felt hungry? How did my stomach feel? How did my mouth feel?”
As a very general guideline, to avoid ravenous hunger, avoid going longer than five hours without eating. In the beginning of this process a hyper focused approach of checking in with your body and hunger at every meal/snack and between meals will help you get in touch with the nuances of hunger. The hunger discovery scale may be a helpful tool as you begin this process
Keep in mind, if you eat for reasons other than hunger you have not failed or broken “rule.” Sometimes we simply want to taste or experience new foods or we need to eat for practical reasons to avoid becoming hungry at inconvenient times, that’s OK!
Read more on intuitive eating or to start the process of honoring your hunger work with a dietitian certified as an intuitive eating counselor.