Last week, I wrote about the first principle of intuitive eating as outlined in the book, “Intuitive Eating” by Evelyn Tribole, M.S, R.D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D. which is to Reject The Diet Mentality. This week, I thought I would focus on the second principle – Honor Your Hunger.
The word “hunger” itself seems to have negative connotations especially in the wake of the extremely popular novel and subsequent movie, “The Hunger Games.” I find myself stifling the words, “I’m starving.” I remember being told as a child that I didn’t know what real hunger was and that I should just ask those kids in Ethopia with the distended bellies what starvation felt like. It’s true. I have never felt real starvation but at the same time, I am not sure if I can recognize real hunger either. My brain will often tell me that I am hungry when I am actually tired, bored or sad. How can you honor your hunger if you can’t recognize when you are truly hungry?
2. Honor Your Hunger Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food.
Recently, I began keeping a food journal. Pasted on the inside front cover of my journal is a Hunger/Fullness Scale. This guide, based on the scale featured in the book “Health At Every Size” by Linda Bacon – gives 10 categories of fullness. Using this scale has helped me determine how hungry I truly am and what actions steps I need to take.
- Emergency Hunger
Can’t think straight and feel dizzy. I call this my emergency hunger mode because at this point, I am not feeling good at all. I sometimes feel too tired to even eat. This is when I need a small but filling protein meal that will immediately fulfill my needs. I reach for a protein smoothie made with tofu or a cup of yogurt.
- Immediate Hunger
This stage is characterized by very low energy, irritability and anxiousness. I need food immediately. A quick protein snack like a 1/2 of nuts, a slice of cheese or even a hard-boiled egg helps me to feel stable enough to seek a more balanced meal.
- Hungry Hunger
Energy is getting low and am preoccupied with thoughts about food. It’s time to eat. This is when easy meals like burritos or omelets make good selections because I am much too hungry to focus on planning or preparing an elaborate meal.
- Preparation Hunger
At this point, I haven’t yet started to feel Hungry Hunger so it’s a great time to start planning and preparing a meal.
Feeling good and full of energy.
Feeling full and a little tired.
Feeling heavy and lethargic.
Too full. Am very tired with low energy.
Uncomfortable. Need to lie down.
- About To Explode
Extremely uncomfortable to the point of being almost painful. Feel like you are about to vomit. “Wafer-thin mint?”