Updated: Jul 19, 2022
By: Lizzie Lonon, Winthrop University Graduate Student
Food is our fuel. The fascinating thing about our body is that it tells us when we need energy, giving us the urge to eat. Throughout each day, biological signals will alert us when we are both hungry and satisfied. It sounds so simple, yet many struggle listening to their body. We have learned to ignore and distrust our biological signals, creating a disconnect between our mind and body when it comes to eating. So, what does it mean to honor your hunger and respect your fullness?
Honoring your hunger requires trust in your body and learning to listen to your internal eating cues. Feeling one's fullness is simply the ability to stop eating when our body is fed and satisfied. If a person frequently ignores hunger signals, it can lead to a ravenous hunger state and unconscious binge eating. How can your body trust you if you consistently disregard hunger and fullness? Eventually, when the mind repeatedly ignores these cues, the signals will begin to fade and only be sensed in extreme hunger states. Respecting your fullness and honoring your hunger go hand in hand. Do you feel the need to clean the plate every time you eat? The clean-your-plate mentality can come from a variety of factors. It could come from being taught to finish everything on your plate or not wanting to waste food. Or it could come from a habit of eating until completion or beginning a meal in an overly hungry state.
Do you struggle with this disconnect between your mind and your body? Do you find yourself waiting to eat until ravenous and then overeating until sick? No matter your background, you most likely relate in some way. There is good news: with time and practice, you can learn to regain trust in your body.
How to honor your hunger / respect your fullness
The first step is to listen to your biological hunger.
Start to ask these questions throughout the day…
● Am I hungry?
● What is my hunger level at this moment?
● When was I last hungry and what did that feel like?
Check for hunger feelings
● Uncomfortable stomach pang / gnawing
● Difficulty concentrating
● Faint / Shaky
Use the hunger scale: 5 Is the neutral point where you are neither hungry nor full. Every time you eat, ask where you are on the scale. If you are five or above, you are not biologically hungry. If you are two or below, you have waited too long to eat and are at risk for binge eating. The more you start to pay attention, the more your body will talk to you.
What patterns do you see in your eating?
During a meal or snack, be present - Ask yourself these questions.
● How does this taste?
● Pause halfway through your meal and ask, “What is my current level of hunger/fullness”
● Don’t commit to cleaning your plate
● Check the hunger fullness scale following a meal.
These steps might seem hyperconscious but the more you practice, the more natural it will be to listen to your biological signals. Allow your body to trust you by listening to it and respect your body by feeding it when it tells you.
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