How to Use a Hunger Scale

It is time for you to befriend your hunger. Listening and responding to your hunger cues can help you optimize your metabolism. The Hunger/Satiety scale is a tool to help you identify and rate your hunger and fullness. Sometimes, we eat because we think we should, the clock says a certain time, or because others are eating. To help you take control of how much you eat as well as your weight, you need to listen to your body. Use the following hunger scale to help determine how hungry you are. Many intuitive and mindful eating books use a slightly different form of a hunger scale.


Hunger / Fullness Feelings

10 Uncomfortably full or “sick” – “Thanksgiving full”
9 Stuffed and uncomfortable
8 Too full, somewhat uncomfortable
7 Full, comfortable – hunger is gone
6 Filling up, but still comfortable
5 Neutral – neither hungry nor full
4 Slightly hungry, faint signals that your body needs food, but you can still wait to eat
3 Hungry, not yet uncomfortable, clear signals that your body needs food
2 Very hungry, irritable or anxious – you want to eat everything in sight
1 Starving, feeling weak, lightheaded, dizzy, or other extremely uncomfortable symptoms of hunger

A great way to use the hunger scale is to rate your hunger level in your food journal before you eat. This will help you decide if you are getting too hungry between meals. At the end of the meal, you will rate how satisfied or full you are. This will empower you to respond more quickly to your hunger and fullness cues.

Here are some more tips to help you obey your hunger.

  • Stop eating two or three times during each meal to ask yourself if you are still hungry or if you are starting to feel satisfied. Feelings of satisfaction or fullness do not happen right away so eating slowly can help.
  • After you finish eating, check again to see how full you are. You want to avoid being too hungry or too full.
  • Start eating when you are at a three, and stop eating when you are at a six. Once you stop eating, it can take about 20 minutes and you will reach a seven as your body naturally responds to the food you have eaten.
  • Try to stay between three and seven on the fullness scale.
  • As you better understand your hunger and satiety patterns, you can use the scale to rediscover hunger and fullness. Along with this you will find more satisfaction and enjoyment at your meal times.

It is time to make an ally with your hunger and let it help you on your journey to a healthy weight. Be watchful of times that you might be using food instead of dealing with some other physical stress or emotions in your life. Seek the advice of an expert if you need additional support. The Weight Treatment Center offers a variety of options to help you reach your health goals through weight loss surgery, medical weight loss, personalized counseling with our dietitian, as well as community classes.

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