Time to Eat: How to Use the Hunger Scale | MOBE

Time to Eat: How to Use the Hunger Scale

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How much should you eat? Everyone is different. It depends on your weight, age, and activity level. That said, your body sends you lots of cues about what it needs. Yet sometimes other things going on, like when you’re busy or distracted, get in the way of listening to what your body needs. Check out this list to see the range of hunger, satiety, and where you should try to be.

The hunger scale

This scale is a great guideline for checking in with your body and reading your cues. Remember to also drink plenty of fluids throughout the day; this not only keeps you hydrated but ensures that your hunger cues aren’t confused with thirst.

  1. Hangry: You’re starving, possibly cranky, and having a hard time focusing on anything other than food. Cortisol is being released in your body and Sneaky Pete is telling you to eat whatever you can get your hands on—and as much of it as possible. You’re stressed.
  2. Moderately hungry: You want to eat. Your blood glucose levels are lowering, and you should eat soon.
  3. Content: You’re not hungry, nor are you full. Nice job—eat in about three hours.
  4. Full: You’ve eaten a little more than you like and can last for more than three hours without eating.
  5. Stuffed: It’s painful and a bummer. You want to crawl into bed and sleep it off. Your pancreas is working in overdrive to produce enough insulin to handle the excess glucose in the bloodstream. You’re stressed.

Tune back into your body.

When you’re trying to assess where you are on the scale, close your eyes and focus your attention on your stomach. Don’t think about when you last ate, simply let your stomach give you a number. If you want to eat without really feeling hunger from your stomach, you might want to eat out of habit or for an emotional reason.

Try to avoid either end of the scale. It’s natural to feel hunger every 3–5 hours after you eat a meal. Hangry usually happens when you skip meals or don’t eat enough and can trigger a stress response in your body. Stuffed often happens when you eat too fast to listen to your body. Aim for level three: not too full, not too hungry. Here, you’re just right—enough to last you for about three hours. Eat slowly to give yourself the chance to feel when you’re reaching the full stage. This means your blood glucose levels are stable, consistently fueling your body and brain, and minimizing dietary stress.

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