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One of the principles of the non-diet approach to health is to eat when you are hungry and eat enough until you are comfortably full. This is not easy to do if you have been dieting on and off for a long time. Often people will say they can tell when they are full but they are not sure of hunger or if they recognise hunger it’s probably only when they get to the ravenous stage and when they eat at this point they tend to eat quickly and will often overeat and end up feeling uncomfortably full.
So the first thing to work out when you go to eat is, are you hungry? And if so how hungry are you? To explain this most practitioners who use this approach will talk about a hunger/fullness scale from 1-10 where 1 is ravenous and 10 is painfully full. Both ends of the scale can lead to a feeling of being sick but most people should be trying to eat before they get down as far as 1 on the scale and stop eating before they reach 10 as neither ends are conducive to feeling good.
When you work out where you are on the scale at any given time then you can start to decide when you need to eat so that you don’t get too hungry. See an example of the hunger fullness scale below but remember you should be using this as an example and making your own list for 1-10 of your body hunger fullness signals as you start to identify them.
1 Ravenous, extremely irritable, sick with hunger, very shaky,
2 starving, irritable, shaky, difficulty concentrating
3 hungry, stomach rumbles, food would taste good
4 stomach rumbles
5 satisfied - not hungry/ not full
6 starting to feel food in your stomach
7 comfortably full
8 starting to feel very full
9 stuffed, feeling uncomfortably full
10 painfully full, need to lie down feeling sick.
You might want to start thinking about getting food around 4 so you can be eating at 3
When starting to use this approach you need to start to listen to your own body during the day and work out where you are on the scale and start to recognise your own body signals for when you are getting hungry. If you can go all day without feeling hungry then you probably are not listening to your body. If this is the case you might want to start eating every 4 hours or so and really start listening to your body and you should start to feel your body signals. Even though I am suggesting eating regularly for someone who generally doesn’t eat all day, for most people hunger is not something that goes by the clock. Sometimes you might be surprised that you are hungry at 11 am as you usually are ok until lunchtime or some days you are more hungrier than others but that’s ok on those days you just maybe need to eat more or at different times.
If you are someone who eats because it’s a mealtime or because your diet plan says you should perhaps this week you should start noticing how you hungry you are and start working from there. Food always tastes better when you are hungry.