The Hunger Scale

This is a really handy tool to understand the ‘how’ part of an individuals intake, as someone that would be happy to eat every minute of every day I found this helpful to distinguish between whether I was an obsessive foodie or a nourishing human. The Scale moves from 1 being the hungriest you have ever felt through to 10 which is a special place reserved for post-Christmas Dinner or Nan’s home cooking. The differences throughout, I explain below:

Hunger Level Scale Rating Physical Sensation

OVERLY HUNGRY ZONE –

1 Starvation, need to eat now, hunger pains, shaky, light-headed – this is that feeling where your blood sugar has plummeted you feel like you could faint, “get the girl a carb stat!” the Doctor screams.

2 Slight pain in stomach, hard to concentrate, lack of energy – This is that moment you realise it’s 3:00 pm and you haven’t even eaten breakfast, you wonder why you can’t recall anything that happened in your last meeting and you’re deciding between the last remaining fingernail on your left hand or the tiny bits of skin on the edge of your index finger at the side of where the nail used to be, while scurrying to the closest open shop…. 7Eleven!

Ideal ZONE

3 Beginning of physical signs of hunger, stomach growling sometimes – This is that feeling where your stomach is politely reminding you of its existence but also letting you know that it probably won’t be too polite for much longer, ‘GIVE ME ATTENTION/ FOOD’

4 Could eat if it were suggested – this is the polite time where you are happy to eat but not overly hungry, your stomach isn’t offended and nor are you but if you would like to dine it would make a suitable dinner guest.

5 Neutral – Switzerland; that point where to be social you could eat or have the homemade dessert on offer but there is certainly no distinct need, no one is offended, no one is aggressive, neutral is a nice spot to be.

6 Satisfied – the content zone, you know the feeling, to achieve this we need technology away from the eating process, likely good conversation and a willingness to stop without the plate being finished! I know what you just read may shock you, after all, we have all been raised in homes where you show respect for those who have provided the meal by finishing your plate! However a little known fact, our plates have got bigger and our stomachs (before stretching) haven’t, so finishing the plate might be the completely wrong message to be sending.

Full ZONE

7 Feel food in stomach – this is that point where you know you probably should have stopped a few mouthfuls earlier, you’re not as happy as you would have been if you had have finished earlier but you know you have eaten and aren’t in a hurry to again.

8 Stomach sticks out – this is the start of the discomfort zone, you extended yourself a little and you probably didn’t need dessert.

9 Bloated, clothes feel tight, sleepy and drained  – the tryptophan coma has set in and you need an uber select with the pillow in the back, get me home now and don’t worry about the tolls. Apologies for the snoring and burping on the trip but if you don’t say anything I promise a 5-star rating. 

10 FULL!!!! Stomach uncomfortable, no energy, physically sick – 2 words ‘Christmas lunch’ a special effort where we have eaten until we just about burst away from the table. Discomfort, indigestion, heartburn these are all on the cards for the afternoon and boxing day leftovers are the thoughts of a nightmare (that is until lunchtime tomorrow) but right now you can’t move, a waddle to the couch and a nap is about all we’re capable of for the foreseeable future.

So when you’re next having a bite to eat ask yourself where am I on the scale?

The overly hungry zone, 1-2

The ideal zone 3-6 or

the full zone 7-10

and keep checking in as your meal progresses. We may find that ‘non-hungry’ eating is a critical element to our intake that tells us a bit more of a story about the ‘why’ in terms of our health status.

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