How to Use the Hunger Scale for Intuitive Eating
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How to Use the Hunger Scale for Intuitive Eating

Wouldn't it be nice if you can give your body permission to eat without feeling guilty? Often, we rely on binge dieting strategies and beat ourselves up for the short-term numbers we see on the scale. But what will happen if we tune into our hunger scale long-term and eat to honor our body?

In this episode, I discuss two essential skills to gain control over your weight. I will also introduce strategies for tuning into the body's wisdom and tracking hunger numerically. Make sure to tune in to the full podcast to learn more about how you can teach your mind to change how it sees eating.

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Here are three reasons why you should listen to the full episode:
  1. Discover the concept behind intuitive eating.
  2. What does the hunger scale look like?
  3. Learn how you can apply the gold standard of the hunger scale into your eating.
Resources Episode Highlights The Concept of Intuitive Eating

The basis of intuitive eating is to learn to tune into the body and trust your own wisdom. As a result, you will make better food choices naturally and eventually attain a healthy body weight for you, not for others.

While diets work short-term, mounting fact-based studies prove that these can be detrimental in the long run. The mentality involved in dieting creates a mental block and self-sabotage in the bigger scheme of things.

Meanwhile, intuitive eating takes a little longer to be effective. It’s not a quick fix, and it tends to be unstructured, which can be scary for a lot of people.

Intuitive Eating as an Art Form

Combining intuitive eating with structure means allowing life and food to work together while being aware that sometimes structure is helpful. Being able to walk this balance is an art form.

Many programs like Weight Watchers are educational in terms of food portions, calories, and food value. Calorie apps can also teach you a lot, but they can also be the root of the problem if you hate breaking the rules. However, it often does not hold up in the long term because of the “Today I'm on; tomorrow I'm off” mentality.

No one can sustain that for their entire life. You need to see eating as a way of honoring your body. It’s easy to stay focused when eating intuitively because there are no rules to keep track of. Instead, you will develop a continuous mental script that focuses on what your body feels.

Introducing the Hunger Scale

The best way to stop your exhausting diet cycle is to get to the root of the problem. The hunger scale refers to physical—not emotional—hunger.

Emotional hunger happens more suddenly. In contrast, physical hunger usually happens more slowly over time. However, it's important to note that each person experiences physical hunger a little bit differently.

Generally, the hunger scale looks like this: the negative numbers signify hunger, zero is neutral, and the positive numbers indicate feeling full or satisfied.

The Negative Scale

Here’s a better look at the negative scale.

  • −10: You’re so hungry you feel like you’re going to die or pass out.
  • −8: You’re starving.
  • −6: You’re very hungry.
  • −4: You’re hungry.
  • −2: You’re feeling the first pangs of hunger.
The Positive Scale

Here's a better look at the positive scale.

  • +10: You’re so full that you’re physically sick.
  • +8: You’re extremely full.
  • +6: You're very full.
  • +4: You’re full.
  • +2: You’re satisfied.
Your Homework: How Hungry Am I?

Start recording the food you eat using a food diary or a phone app. Write down the food, the time, the portions of the food you're eating, and the number on the scale which reflects how hungry you are. It doesn't matter if you're still eating if you already feel stuffed. Here, you're just recording without any judgment.

After you finish eating, write a second number which reflects how satisfied or full you feel. Having a mental dialogue would help you fight off the resistance of food recording.

The Gold Standard

We’re working toward a gold standard that is more or less a narrow range of −2 or +2. It means that you eat before you're hungry and you stop before you're full. Remember: eating when you're overly hungry pushes you to overeat or eat too fast. Stopping before you're full is the best way of honoring your body and managing your eating.

The Importance of Patience & Self-Compassion

Success in this journey means understanding that it is a journey. It is putting your foot in a gray area of thinking positive and forgiving thoughts. Keep in mind that self-talk is a massive source of sabotage.

You must develop self-love and forgiveness, understanding that you are doing the best you can do at any given moment. Remember: eating is not black and white. Hence, you must allow life into eating and its rhythm and flow to work together.

5 Powerful Quotes from this Episode

“You have to have a mentality of, ‘This is the way I am going to eat to honor my body because what I'm eating right now feels good in my body.’”

“All those ads that you see that tell you you can lose lots of weight fast, that is not going to work in the big picture. It's a waste of time, energy, and money, and it feeds the mental cycle of feeling like a failure with dieting. That is absolutely at the crux of the problem.”

“You must have patience. You must have self-love. You must let go of guilt. You must relax. You must be in the flow of, ‘I'm doing the best I can.’”

“It's not good for your body or for you to be a binge dieter. Yet, in the moment, we act in the best way we know how. So ease up, please, on yourself.”

“It's hard to develop the skill of allowing food intake and food cravings with life because the problem is life is about flow and rhythm and unpredictability.”

If you listened to the podcast and enjoyed it, please share and post a review!

Have any questions or want to schedule an appointment? You can email me at betsy@betsythurstonrd.com or visit my website.

To making peace with eating,

Betsy

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