Welcome back for part 2 of my 2-part series about the hunger scale!

To review my first blog post about the hunger scale, click here.

So now that you know what the hunger scale is, I want to show you how to apply it to your eating habits so that you can start losing weight.

I speak for myself, but I’m quite sure most of you will agree, that before I applied the hunger scale, I kind of ate….whenever. I did a lot of eating because it was “time to eat.” I may or may not have been hungry at that time. Whether I was hungry or not was kind of irrelevant!

I certainly would snack, if the opportunity arose. In my office, we had those huge Sam’s Club-size containers of animal crackers. I think the official reason we had those was to be able to have a kid-friendly snack at the ready if a patient really needed something immediately. But who are we kidding?

By far, most of those animal crackers were eaten by the staff. And they were always around.

Didn’t like what you brought for lunch? Supplement with animal crackers. Drug rep didn’t bring dessert with lunch? Supplement with animal crackers. Crazy stressful afternoon clinic finally over but still 1.5-2 hours of paperwork and phone calls to make before going home? Animal crackers make that better!

Introducing my brain to the concept of the hunger scale kind of threw me for a loop, if I’m being honest. You mean I actually have to tune in to my body before I eat and figure out where I am on the hunger scale? My first thought: Ain’t nobody got time for that!

But I was committed to the process, so I decided to give it a try. It was much easier than I thought it would be to learn what a -2 or a +4 feels like in my body. Are the numbers subjective? Totally. What’s important is that you learn and define what these numbers feel like in your body. And the more often you check in with yourself to determine where you are on the hunger scale, the easier it gets. It seriously takes about 1-1.5 seconds for me now. Maybe even less.

So what this meant is that certain meal times might come up and I might legitimately not be hungry. What do I do with that?

I personally believe that eating a family dinner together most nights is one of the best traditions for children as they age. So what that meant is that I’d eat dinner with my family (if I was home in time), whether I was hungry or not. I thought it was weird to serve my family dinner and not eat it. But I decided to give it a try.

The next time I had dinner ready to go and I did not feel hungry AT ALL, I decided that would be the night I ate dinner later than my family. I served up the food to everyone and we all sat down. I had a placemat with a tall glass of water…and nothing else.

My 10-year-old son G asked me why I wasn’t eating. “I’m just not hungry yet. I’ll eat later when my body lets me know it’s ready for food,” I lightly told him. He completely accepted this explanation and dug into his meal. My younger kids were oblivious. And you know what? It was a really nice family meal! When someone needed more water or dropped their fork or spilled something, I was completely happy to help because I had nothing else to do. We had the nicest dinnertime conversation that I could remember in the recent past. It was a thoroughly enjoyable and not weird family meal and I didn’t eat a thing. Shocking.

Later, after the kids were in bed, I was actually hungry, so I reheated the plate of food I had reserved for myself and ate it. And I didn’t wolf it down, hoping to finish quickly so I could help whichever kid needed something next. I was able to pace myself and truly enjoy the flavor of the food. It was the way a meal should be. AND, I was so in-tune with my hunger scale!

As I was eating, I noticed when I got to a 0, then a +1, then a +2, and finally, just as I was approaching +4, I stopped. I didn’t get overly full. I was nice and satisfied. The hunger scale at work.

The truth is, the hunger scale is the body’s natural, inborn way of telling us when we need food and when we don’t anymore. If we pay attention to it and eat foods that serve our bodies, our bodies will naturally find their way back to their ideal or natural weight. We don’t need to depend on willpower, white-knuckling it through the process of weight loss. We need to pay attention to and honor the fine-tuned machine that we live in. Our bodies.

So give the hunger scale a try. See what comes up for you. Is it pretty easy or a bit of a struggle? I promise, the more you practice it, the easier it becomes.


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