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Am I Really Hungry? Use the Hunger Scale.

Drinking water is a great way to curb appetite.

Last week, I launched the hugely popular Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program and I’ve been getting a lot of great feedback and questions. One of the more common questions is about identifying true feelings of hunger.

As I’ve mentioned before, there’s a difference between hunger and appetite. Hunger is the body’s need for food whereas appetite is more about psychological desires for food. Because of appetite, we consume food when we’re not really hungry – often as a way to cope with stress, to deal with boredom, to self-sooth, etc.

To become more aware of the difference between cravings and true hunger, many nutritionists recommend using a hunger scale. While you can use any range of numbers, I prefer scoring hunger and fullness on a scale of 1 to 10 as follows:

  1. Insatiably hungry
  2. Seriously hungry
  3. Stomach growling hungry
  4. Slightly hungry
  5. No longer hungry but not yet satisfied
  6. Comfortably satisfied
  7. Starting to feel full
  8. Feeling quite full
  9. Starting to get a stomach ache from so much food
  10. In actual pain from overeating

When you feel yourself reaching for food, rate your hunger. If it’s a 4 or higher, maybe you can just have a tall glass of water with lemon to hold yourself off for a half hour. Or maybe, if you’re somewhere closer to a 3, an apple might hold you over until your next meal.

Ideally, you’d like to stay somewhere in the 3 – 7 range. If you become insatiably hungry, for example, you’re more likely to overeat (as it takes up to 20 minutes for the stomach to signal to the brain that is full). To do a better job of self regulating, it’s just as important to rate your fullness after eating.

Using this hunger scale, you’ll slowly learn to both identify true hunger and do a better job of differentiating psychological desires for food.

For more information about losing weight and keeping it off, download The Davey Wavey Weight Loss Program.