Overeating is eating more than our body needs for fuel.
When we are hungry we either have a sensation of hunger or a thought of hunger.
We view both as a reason to eat. A lot times we eat way more than our body needs for fuel because we are not wanting to feel an emotion (boredom), or we see something ( a commercial) that makes us want to eat, or we are at a party and food is everywhere! 😬
A true sensation of hunger starts in the body and travels to the brain.
A thought of hunger starts in the brain and travels to the body. So if you feel hungry the question to ask yourself is “Am I having the sensation of hunger or the thought/feeling of hunger?” Both can can feel like real hunger. Then you can decide if you want to eat or not.
The Hunger and Fullness Scale
If you aren’t sure if you are eating because you truly hungry, using a “hunger fullness scale” is a great tool. It helps you to become more aware of what the sensations of hunger and fullness may feel like.
Rachel Hartley is a dietitian. She says ” The hunger and fullness scale helps you get back in touch with the subtle signs of hunger and fullness. If you eat when you’re just getting hungry, and stop when you’re satisfied, but not uncomfortable, you’ll eat just the right amount of food for your body, an amount that changes from day to day based on multiple factors (physical activity, how much sleep you got, stress, etc).”
How to Use the Hunger and Fullness Scale
Here is an example of how to use the hunger/fullness scale.
- When you are getting ready to eat a meal or snack, ask yourself, “Where am I on the hunger and fullness scale?” Ideally, you’ll be between a 3 and a 4.
- Halfway through your meal, pause for 10 seconds and check in with your body. …
- Eat until you get to a 6 or 7, then stop
A Few More Thoughts
Due to our lifestyle and crazy schedules sometimes its not possible to eat when you are at a 3. Because of that, you want to consider eating a snack – even if you aren’t hungry – to hold you over until you get a chance to eat. Or eating a meal consisting of protein, fat, and healthy carbs to keep you full longer.
Also it makes sense to eat when you are satisfied (7-8) instead of just to where are no longer hungry (5). Otherwise you may find yourself hungry again quickly.
To summarize, using the hunger fullness scale is great tool to help you become more mindful when eating. It will also help you tune into your body so you can assess if you are truly hungry or not. And it also can help you know when you are full and satisfied instead of eating until you are uncomfortable.