We are born into this world with the innate sense of how much food we need at any given point. As infant we will cry until we are fed or refuse a bottle if we are full. Our body is capable of gauging when to eat and when to stop eating. Hunger and fullness cues allow an individual to distinguish between when to begin eating and when to stop eating.
Over time we can become disconnected from our hunger and fullness cues due to ignoring hunger, over eating, dieting, or simply being too distracted by life. Emotions also play a big role in our cues by increasing or decreasing appetite. Even if you are not currently feeling accurate hunger and fullness cues your body is capable of regaining the ability to do so.
Portion Control Through Hunger & Fullness
The first step to reconnect to our internal mechanism of portion control is eating mechanically. This means that you eat by the clock regardless of physical sensations: breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner. Additional snacks may be added if necessary. This allows the body's metabolism to normalize, which allows your internal cues to "reset."
Portion Control - The Hunger & Fullness Scale
The hunger and fullness scale is a scale from 0-10, 0 being I haven't eaten all day/I am about to pass out and 10 being I am so full I need to lay down. We want to try to stay between 3 and a 7, never allowing ourselves to become too hungry or too full.
The biggest issue with not noticing our hunger cues is being overly engaged/distracted in whatever you are doing. The biggest issue with not noticing our fullness is eating too quickly. Try to make your meals last at least 20 minutes. This is the amount of time it takes for your brain and your stomach to send signals of fullness back and forth.
· 0 – Empty, haven’t eaten all day
· 1 – Ravenous
· 2 – Over-hungry
· 3 – Hunger pangs, just the right amount of hunger
· 4 – Hunger awakening, will probably eat in the next hour
· 5 – neutral
· 6 – Just satisfied
· 7 – completely satisfied
· 8 – Full, a couple bites too many
· 9 – stuffed, need to unbutton pants
· 10- sick, need to lay down or throwup
Every time you think about eating, ask yourself, "Am I hungry?" If the answer is yes, eat. If the answer is no, address what is really going on or occupy yourself with something else.