Mindful Eating Programs and Training

Mindful Eating Programs and Training

Relearn to trust your body wisdom

Michelle May

How-to-use-the-hunger-and-fullness-scale

Many of you shared eating challenges that indicate you’ve forgotten how to listen to and trust your body wisdom. What is body wisdom—and why is it so important to interpret and trust what it tells you if you are going to resolve your most difficult eating challenges?

In this video, I’ll answer those questions and share a simple tool, the Hunger and Fullness Scale, to help you begin the process of relearning to trust your body wisdom.

Trust Your Body Wisdom

Can you trust your body wisdom?

You were born with the instinctive ability to know when you need fuel, to recognize when you’ve eaten enough, to eat what you love without being afraid of losing control, to enjoy eating enough to stay tuned in to the experience, and to stop when eating doesn’t hold your attention anymore.

But if you are like many people who struggle with food, you don’t trust yourself anymore.

How do we unlearn such a basic and essential skill?

  • Parental messages, like “Clean your plate”
  • Societal messages, like eating certain meals at certain times
  • Restriction and deprivation

What happens when you’ve lost that essential skill?

When you don’t know how to interpret what your body is telling you, you’ll have trouble using your instinctive hunger and satisfaction signals to guide you to eat when you need fuel, recognize when you have other reasons for wanting to eat, be able to feed yourself in an enjoyable way that doesn’t leave you feeling regretful.

The Hunger and Fullness Scale

As I demonstrated in the video, the Hunger and Fullness Scale is a simple tool for helping you visualize how empty or full your stomach is.

Hunger and Fullness Scale to relearn to trust your body wisdom

Of course, there is a lot more to teach you about using the Hunger and Fullness Scale for relearning to trust your body wisdom! But for now, just check in before, during, and after eating to see if you can identify where you are.

What questions do you have about your body wisdom?

What are your questions, concerns, and challenges about using the Hunger and Fullness Scale to relearn to trust your body wisdom? Please post them below so I can address them in future posts or videos!

In my next video, I will address “fearless eating.”

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10 thoughts on “Relearn to trust your body wisdom”

  1. Thank you for the refresher on the hunger and fullness scale, Dr. May. The visual of the balloon was very helpful. I really try to use this image (or the image of a gas tank in a car) before eating; however, I’ve noticed that once I get the granola bar, the piece of chocolate, the bag of popcorn, etc. on my mind, I can’t get it off my mind until I eat it. Usually I’m around a 3.5 to 4 on the hunger and fullness scale when this happens. Any advice? Thank you.

    1. Thanks for your question Tracey! I’m glad the Hunger/Fullness scale and balloon imagery are helpful.
      Two thoughts about your challenge with certain foods:
      1) Eat them! If you are hungry (a 3.5 to 4 on the Hunger and Fullness scale), why not have a small snack of exactly what you want?
      2) Alright, if 1) sounds too simple (or too hard to do) be sure to catch my next video Fearless Eating.
      Michelle

  2. Sometimes I don’t realize that I’m hungry until I feel sleepy. Does that mean I have waited too long to eat? Also, I believe that I have overeaten so often that my stomach is stretched out and can thus hold more food comfortably before I start feeling full. Is it true that a stomach can be enlarged from frequent overeating or bingeing?

    1. Thanks for your questions Kathy!
      Yes, sleepiness can be a symptom of hunger (and a lot of other things too!). Mindfulness will help you learn to tune into your body more regularly and pick-up on other symptoms of hunger before you feel sleepy.
      It is controversial whether the stomach actually “stretches.” However, people who frequently binge or eat well past fullness may be less attuned to the symptoms and discomfort of fullness. In my experience, they can learn to become more aware of those symptoms to help guide their eating.

  3. I have trouble with my hunger fullness realization at night and find I tend to use my thoughts instead of physical feelings. In other words, I hear myself thinking I want (fill in the blank) and my brain tells my stomach that it is hungry but it’s not. From years of dieting and deprivation during the day, I got in the habit of trying to eat enough before going to bed so that I could sleep. Although I am trying to change that and eat enough during the day, the old habit is hard to break. I guess it is just a process but I also have a huge problem thinking I should have a “treat” every day and I don’t always have time to have meals I love every day. If my meal is boring, I tend to think I need something else. It seems very childish to me and I am not being a good parent to myself. I suppose that is a process, too, but I welcome any suggestions. I would really like to find my just right point of fullness without overeating and learn to be satisfied with unglamorous meals.

    1. Valla, your comment (and the one above) demonstrate how complicated this can all become! With this quick read, I see several issue to work on:
      – You have a bit of restriction (by your doctor’s advice and your husband’s restrictions).
      – You are having trouble distinguishing – or honoring – the differences between physical and “head” hunger.
      – Old habits, like eating at night after a day of deprivation and feeling you need a “treat” every day. (By the way, I think the word “treat” loaded! https://amihungry.com/chocolate-lover-ban-words-like-indulge-and-treat)
      – And feeling deprived when your meal is boring (which makes perfect sense to me!)
      You are absolutely right… this is a process! But you are asking the right questions and obviously willing to figure this out so you are on the right path! Keep going!

  4. The Hunger/Fullness Scale is often superseded by a feeling of social obligation, manners and tradition. For 40 years I have cooked for my family. We have always eaten together and at the same times of day. The boys have flown the coop but my husband and I continue with the ritual. How do I eat what I want when I want using the Hunger/Fullness Scale without seeming disrespectful?

    1. You’re right Jennifer! Old social messages and rules can make it difficult to be your own guide. I wonder what your husband would say if you sat down and talked to him about your desire to be more mindful of your needs.

      Now don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of family meals. Awareness of your hunger and fullness symptoms can help you adjust when, what, and how much you eat earlier in the day so you will be hungry at a convenient mealtime.

      Although this article is about diet rules for eating by the clock, I think there are some ideas in here that might be helpful: https://amihungry.com/articles/hunger-doesnt-follow-a-clock.

      Let me know!

      1. Talk? What a novel idea! We did and my husband is excited about learning more about the program as well (he is pre-diabetic.) We now ask ourselves together, “are we hungry?” Then, “what do I want, what do I need and what do I have.” The process of shopping for food and preparing meals is now a joint effort – not only satisfying and healthier but FUN! See, you can teach an old dog new tricks!

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