Sometimes you eat because you feel hungry and sometimes you eat to satisfy your appetite. Understanding the difference can help you maintain a healthy weight.
Hunger is a physical need to eat. It’s what you feel when you haven’t eaten for at least 3 or 4 hours and your stomach starts speaking to you.
Often, your brain and not your stomach is what’s at work when you’re really not hungry, but you still want to eat because you’re bored or lonely or angry about something, or just because the food is there. You look around the kitchen and a box of cookies starts speaking to you.
The next time you want to eat, you can figure out how hungry you really are on a scale of 1 to 10.
- Check-in with yourself to see how you are feeling.
Simply close your eyes, take a couple of easy slow breaths, and focus your attention inward. Scan your body from head and toe and notice any sensations. Not focus your attention on your stomach, which is just beneath your ribcage. Imagine that your stomach is like a balloon and notice how full it feels. It could be empty, somewhat full, or very full.
- Use the Hunger Scale as a guide to rate your level of hunger.
The goal is to stay in the mid-range, between 3 and 7. Do your best to not let yourself get to 1, where you’re ravenously hungry, or to 10, where you stuff yourself to the point of feeling sick. By eating when you are hungry, you satisfy your body’s need for fuel and nutrients. Eating when you are not hungry is called emotional eating and can lead of overeating.