A hunger scale is a tool sometimes used to develop intuitive eating skills (see earlier blog on intuitive eating). Like other intuitive eating tools such as mindful eating, the hunger scale has recently been co-opted by diet culture as a weight loss strategy. It is actually intended to improve your relationship with food and body by helping you tune back in to the signals we receive from our amazing bodies about our food choices (or lack there of!). It’s about collecting information from these messages and reflecting on this. It’s about identifying helpful or non helpful eating patterns. It’s about learning how to interpret these signals and make food choices that honour our body’s needs and our values.
All journaling or mindful reflection takes time time and effort, the hunger scale is no different. Here’s a few pointers about making the hunger scale a valuable tool in bring peace to your experience of eating:
• to rate your hunger level, don’t just pick a number. Scan your body and focus on your stomach as well as your brain- notice any emptiness, gurgling, fogginess, lack of concentration
• to rate your satiety, consider the feeling of food in the stomach, level of energy and satisfaction from the meal
• think about the days, or time of the day you would like to change your for choices and use the hunger scale then. If you try to use it all day everyday it becomes tedious and loses meaning
• even though using the hunger scale just in your mind is helpful, writing it down strengthens the lessons you learn. This can mean you identify patterns quicker and make changes that will better meet your needs
• it’s extremely helpful to also record some observations or reflections after the meal e.g. if you started eating at a 2 and finished at an 8, why do you think that is? Is your mood impacting your choices? How did you feel in the hours after the meal?
• there is no ideal numbers for everyone to start eating and stop eating at. The hunger scale is not about making everyone eat in the same way. It’s about working out what pattern of eating and food choices work best for you
Image from www.advanceddiabetescentre.com
If you would like more support with using a hunger scale, ask an Eat Smart Dietitian 🙂