Hunger signs—what are they and how do I know if I’m having them?
This is a question I’ve struggled with since I lost the weight two years ago. Eat when I’m hungry and stop when I’m full. It seems like such an easy concept when I can define my hunger.
My brain says I’m hungry, but my body shows no signs of it, so which part of my body do I listen to?
Signs of Hunger
Dr. Michelle May, author of Eat What You Love and Love What You Eat lists these signs of hunger:
- Hunger pangs
- Growling or grumbling in the stomach
- Empty or hollow feeling
- Slight queasy feeling
- Weakness or loss of energy
- Trouble concentrating
- Difficulty making decisions
- Slight headache
- Irritability or crankiness
- Feeling that you must eat as soon as possible
At first I waited for actual gnawing hunger, but the problem with using that sign is then I’m starving, and I was more likely to overeat.
So what does hunger feel like? Before I lost the weight, I ate on a schedule. Breakfast, lunch and dinner with snacks in between—not because I was hungry, but because that was my routine.
But as I’ve gone from losing weight to maintaining it, I want to continue to listen to my body and eat when I’m hungry.
The Checklist Diet by Rebecca Clark offered these suggestions that I’ve found helpful in determining when I’m hungry and when I’m not.
Rebecca says, “If you’re thinking you SHOULD be hungry because you haven’t eaten in a while or you SHOULD be hungry because this is the time of day you usually eat, then you’re not listening to your body.”
Rebecca also had these suggestions for determining hunger:
“Think of your hunger as a scale of 1-10
- 10—Thanksgiving stuffed
- 7—You feel like you ate a bit too much and are slightly uncomfortable
- 3—You’re a little bit hungry, but you could wait
- 0—You stomach is empty and you need to eat right now”
I want to learn to eat instinctively, but it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight. After all, I’ve spent over 50 years eating uninstinctively, so why should I think I can change it that fast?
Dr. May had this Mindful Moment in her book that I’ve found helpful on instinctive eating:
“When you are eating instinctively, you eat what you love, but you don’t obsess about food because you don’t need to. Instead, you trust your body to let you know when and how much to eat.”
My goal is to learn to eat instinctively. I’ve made progress, but I’m not all the way there yet.
What are your signs of hunger?