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Hunger: Part III



You just got off the phone with your sister who, once again, dropped the ball when it came to doing her part in caring for Mom.  So typical and frustrating and unfair!  Ugh!!


Why does a muffin sound so good right now?


In this 3 part Hunger Series, we were introduced to the Hunger Scale (get yours free here) and discovered how to avoid getting Over-Hungry (Part I) and learned to eat until satisfied, not full (Part II).


Now that you have a handle on how your body feels at each number on the Hunger Scale, you can use that skill to tackle the “Holy Grail of Eating”:


Distinguishing between physical and emotional hunger.


Here’s how:


When you first have the idea that you want something to eat (see muffin above), do two things:


  1. Ask yourself when and what you last ate. If it was 20 minutes ago, you’re likely not physically hungry, unless it was an apple snack and then you might be. (Remember, we usually get hungry every 2-3 hours after eating a reasonable meal).


  1. Ask yourself where you are on the Hunger Scale. Given the information from Step 1, really feel into your physical state of hunger. This is where lots of practice helps—you better know how you physically feel at each number on the Hunger Scale.


Give the current physical feeling a number, somewhere between -5 (Empty) and 5 (Stuffed), but hopefully you’re somewhere between -2 and 2 (Comfort Zone).



If the Hunger Scale number is higher than a -2 (anywhere from -1 to 0 to 5), consider waiting to eat. Your body doesn’t need fuel at this time. It’s a clue that the craving is a cry for some sort of comfort and not a need for sustenance.


Now, here’s where the work happens:

Try filling the very real need for comfort with something other than food.


  • Take a walk to get some fresh air and a different perspective
  • Connect with a friend who will be supportive
  • Watch a funny video to get a laugh
  • Try journaling or meditating or taking a bath


Anything (non-food) that will bring some relief to the feeling of being disappointed by your sister (in this example).


We may decide we’re “hungry” (aka want food) when feeling other emotions as well. We’ve learned to treat these feelings with food, but there are often more direct ways to deal with the uncomfortable feelings of:


  • Boredom: Find a different activity or shift your mindset rather than crunch on something mindlessly.
  • Tiredness: Plan to get more sleep instead of a sugar fix.
  • Loneliness: Connecting with friends or family, in person or on-line solves this problem straightforwardly.
  • Anger: Deal directly with the conflict to get it resolved once and for all.


And remember: thirst can often be mistaken for hunger. So if you haven’t had something to drink in a while, have a glass of water and re-evaluate in 20 minutes.


Once you have a healthy grasp on what each number feels like on the Hunger Scale and you use it to discover your true physical hunger levels throughout the day, you are in control of your eating!


Hoorah! This is huge!


When you’re eating to satisfy your body’s needs and not your emotional ones, you’re on your way to sustainable weight loss. Forever.


Download your free printable Hunger Scale right here.



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