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Tips for Mastering Hunger Cues

Successful weight management means tuning in to your hunger cues and satisfaction signals. If you have dieted a lot, you may have lost touch with your sense of physical hunger. You may have trained yourself to ignore typical signs that your body needs foods, like:

● A growling stomach

● A slight headache

● An empty feeling in the pit of your stomach

● Fatigue or light dizziness

● Crankiness

Hunger is a gauge, not just an “on” or “off” switch. With a few easy tricks, you can learn to be in tune with both your hunger and satisfaction levels.

Before you eat

Before your next meal, tune in to your hunger.

1. What hunger cues are you experiencing and how often do they occur? Get familiar with the list above. If you don’t have physical symptoms, it may just be in your head.

2. Distract yourself for 5 minutes and drink a glass of water. What happens? Are you truly hungry or did it pass? True hunger will let you know. Sometimes you may just be thirsty and a glass of water will satisfy you.

3. Take a bite of food. Does it taste better than usual? Paying close attention to how your food tastes can help you know if your body needs fuel. When it’s true hunger, your taste buds are stimulated and food tastes really good.

Most people experience true hunger cues every three to four hours. If you ignore your signals and wait too long to eat, your hunger may surge, your energy may plunge and you’ll be more likely to overeat.

Before a meal or snack, rate your hunger on a scale of 1 to 5:

1 = Not Hungry

3 = Ready to Eat

5 = Starving

Now, adjust your timing so you eat most meals when you are a ‘3’ so that you can respond in a more moderate way with portion control.

During and after eating

Now that you know that you are truly hungry, go ahead and eat! Just be sure to eat slowly and mindfully. It takes the body roughly 20 minutes to register feelings of fullness. Try these tricks to help you slow down:

● Put your fork down between bites.

● Pace yourself with the slowest eater at the table.

● Chew and swallow before you spoon up your next bite.

Mid-way through and as you are finishing, rate your satisfaction. Rating your satisfaction is just as important as determining your true hunger. Here’s how to do it:

On a scale of 1-5 are you...

1 = Still Hungry

3 = Satisfied

5 = Stuffed

Aim to stop at a level “3-satisfied” -- that just-right feeling when you’ve had enough, but not too much. Try to do this for a week or two, and you will become a master at determining your hunger and satisfaction.

Get started today. Pick one meal or snack each day to rate your pre-meal hunger and post-meal satisfaction.