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Nutrition: Hunger & Fullness

Hunger & Fullness

When you are a kid, you reach for food when you’re hungry, and leave the table when you’re full. No second thought, no outside influence. Diet culture and the media has created rules and guidelines on how you should eat, and how much you should eat. This has caused most people to develop a mistrust with themselves around food, portion sizes, hunger cues, and eating patterns.

If we can eat when we are hungry, and stop when we’re full, we would be at a weight that is right for us and our bodies. These cues simply need to be honored and not be fought back against. If people listened to them at their simplest forms, they would find themselves in a much healthier place both physically and mentally.

Our bodies are able to give us those signals in their strongest forms when we are giving our bodies an overall balanced and nutritious diet on a consistent basis. The goal here is to think about how much you are eating, rather than what you are eating.

When looking at your hunger and fullness on a scale of one to ten, the goal is to never go into a meal starving, or at a one, and not leaving a meal at a ten, incredible stuffed. You also want to think about slowing down. When you slow down it allows you to be more in tune and pay closer attention to when those signals kick in and where they are at.

If you eat fast, you will notice that you end up feeling full (around a 7-8) and then after about 10-15 minutes your brain to recognize the fullness and you may be closer to 9-10. If you are a slow eater, you will have more of a chance to recognize appropriate fullness when it comes.

You want to feel hungry (around a 3-4) every 3-4 hours during the day. This will prevent you from overeating at meals because you are not starving, and compensating for the lack of nutrition through the day. For example, people who eat breakfast but then skip lunch, are 5x more likely to overeat dinner due to their body being low on fuel.

When we start to pay attention to what our body is communicating you will become more in-tune and have more control. When you are hungry and in control, eat something. When you are satisfied, put the food down. Try incorporating mindful eating, attempting to listen to your hunger and fullness cues at least one time each day. Create an eating schedule that works for you and your schedule, with flexibility of course can be a great place to start.

By: Emilie Burgess, MS, RDN, CSSD, LDN