Principle 2: Honor Your Hunger
Honoring your hunger sounds easy, right? One of the strongest and loudest cues our bodies give us is to eat, but what if I told you that years of ignoring your hunger cues due to dieting or following your own “food rules” can actually change the way you feel and interpret hunger? This can make following the second principle of intuitive eating a little more challenging than you might think.
Diet culture teaches us that in order to lose weight we must silence our hunger. It’s all about how to trick your body into thinking it’s not hungry. Remember diet mentality? This is another prime example of why it is so harmful, physically and mentally. We ignore our hunger all day, but then what happens? We start to obsessively think about food and oftentimes this leads to overeating which then leads to guilt and shame, the classic endless cycle of diet mentality.
Each and every one of us were born intuitive eaters. Babies are the best example of intuitive eating; they cry when they feel hunger and turn their heads away when they are satisfied. Hunger is how our bodies communicate its most basic need for survival! The goal of intuitive eating is to get us back to our primal instincts to fuel our bodies once we feel hunger. Once we relearn to do this, you will find that overeating is no longer a problem.
In order to honor your hunger, it is important that you know your own hunger cues. Hunger cues can be different for each person so you will need to take some time to evaluate your own hunger cues.
Here are some examples of what hunger cues may feel like:
– Growling stomach
– Sharp stomach cramps
Take some time during your day to really tune in to your body’s cues to better understand how you feel hunger. Once you are able to recognize your own cues, honoring your hunger becomes so much easier! Remember to always be compassionate with yourself. Hunger is not something to be punished. Honoring your hunger is being kind to your body. Ask yourself these questions:
- Where in my body do I feel hunger?
- What sensations do I feel?
- Does hunger affect my mood?
- Is my concentration affected by my hunger?
Once you have a better understanding of your own hunger cues, next take time to evaluate and identify your hunger and fullness scale. On a scale of 1 to 10, one being the absolute hungriest and 10 being so full you feel sick. This scale can be a helpful tool when you’re first starting out so you are able to frequently check in with yourself to identify where you are on the scale. Eat once you feel you are at a 3 or 4 and stop eating once you are at a 6 or 7. That way you will eat before you are too hungry and you will stop before you’re uncomfortably full.
Becoming more in tune with your body will help you build a healthy relationship with food that will allow yourself to trust your body’s hunger and satiety cues. It may take some time and work, but honoring your hunger means you can finally let go of calorie counting and feelings of guilt and shame.