Using the Hunger Scale to Prevent Over-Eating
Do you need help when it comes to portion control? As a new mom, I find it so interesting that my daughter never needs to be told not to overeat—except perhaps when it comes to chocolate. Toddlers generally just naturally lose interest in food when they become full, and stop eating.
Unfortunately, as adults, we often lose that ability to acknowledge when our stomachs are full. This frequently leads to overeating and weight gain when the body converts the surplus of calories into body fat.
Making an effort to use the Hunger Scale can be a game-changer when it comes to losing weight and maintaining a healthy body type.
What is the Hunger Scale and How to Use It:
- The Hunger Scale is a tool in which you gauge your hunger from 1-10.
With 1 = you are so hungry that you feel dizzy, and 10 = you’ve eaten so much that you actually feel sick. Sitting at 5 would be ideal after a satisfying meal.
- Before you eat, rate your hunger. If you are rating 3 or lower, then be wary about how quickly you eat, because you are susceptible to binging when you let yourself reach those uncomfortable levels.
- If you are rating between 4-6, this could mean you have the option to have a small snack or another small serving, rather than a large meal.
- If you’re at a party with tasty treats to indulge on, but already feeling around 6+, this is an excellent time to stop and make a conscious decision about whether or not your body needs food right now. If you want to nibble, really try to savour the food and tuning into how your body is feeling.
- Keep checking in with yourself as you work through your meal. When you feel like you might be sitting around a 7, note that! You don’t need to keep eating just because your plate still has food on it! Bag it up and save it for later. If you are finished your meal and rate yourself a 4-5, I recommend to try drinking some water, waiting 20 minutes, then re-evaluate.
Note that this is not intended to make you feel like eating is something you should feel guilty over. Food is fuel and is something that should be savoured and enjoyed! This is just one method for being mindful of your body and avoiding those over-eating occurrences.
Practice makes perfect, so don’t expect this to be something you easily remember before each meal. If you’ve been doing a lot of different types of calorie-restrictive diets, then your body needs time to develop a healthy sense of hunger again. Be patient with yourself.
Finally, remember that over-eating happens sometimes! Don’t beat yourself up—rather, look back on the situation and pinpoint what happened to lead you to eating so much, and try to correct that behaviour in the future.
Coach Julie Germaine is an NFLA-certified fitness expert and prenatal trainer, and an NASM-certified nutrition specialist. She is also a fit mom to an active toddler and a 2x world-class fitness champion who has been featured in and contributed to numerous fitness, fashion, and lifestyle magazines and other media. She has loved helping men and women lose belly fat and maintain their incredible body transformations as a virtual coach since 2005.