HUNGER DISCOVERY SCALE

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Principle two of Intuitive Eating is Honor Your Hunger.  The idea in this step is to reteach your body what it feels like to be full or hungry.  Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, authors of Intuitive Eating, aided in this quest of retraining your body by setting out The Hunger Discovery Scale.  It is on this scale that you rate your hunger from 0 to 10, with 0 being starving and 10 being stuffed to sickness.  Below is the basic gist of the scale (the actual scale can be found on pg. 126 of the book).

10—Sick

9—Stuffed

8—Full

7—Satisfied

6—Just Satisfied

5—Neutral – neither hungry nor full

4—Pangs – first awakening of hunger

3—Set – quite hungry, ready to eat

2—Ravenous

1—Empty

0—Starving

For me, this scale was extremely helpful in learning to trust my body’s hunger signals.  The first step for me was learning what a “2” on the scale meant for me and my body.  And, for each of the numbers on the scale, I had to test and retest what they felt like in my body.  The next step for me was to recognize the thoughts and feelings that went along with each number.  See below for my scale with thoughts and feelings.

Normally feelings of shame and thoughts of weakness and disgust propel me to make negative judgments about my self-worth and body.  Feelings of desperation and thoughts of how starving I am only propel me to binge because I rarely take the time to decide what my body really wants to eat or give myself the time to let my mouth enjoy what I am putting into it.  What I am trying to do is change some of those thoughts when I do let myself overeat to a 9 or 10 or wait too long to eat at a 1 or 2.  Those changed thoughts and feelings are in italics.  It is a work in progress, but I have already seen success.

Number

Description

Physical Signs

Thoughts

Feelings

9-10

Stuffed/Sick

Bloated, uncomfortable, clothing too tight

I am disgusting.  I am fat.  I am weak.

I ate too much this time.  I feel really uncomfortable.  I don’t want to do this again.  I need to do better at stopping when I am satisfied or full.

Shame, anger, disgust

Determination, disappointment

8

Full

Belly is filled and comfortable, probably won’t need to eat again until next meal

That was good.  I can’t eat another bite.

Content

6-7

Satisfied

Belly is mostly filled, will be hungry again soon

That was good.  I might have dessert.

Happy

5

Neutral

No signs

I am not hungry or full.

Neutral

4

Pangs

Random rumbles in belly but they quickly recede

I am going to need to eat soon.  I need a little snack.  Maybe I’m thirsty.

Content, curious

3

Set

Consistent rumbles in belly, feeling empty in belly

I need to eat now.  I wonder what sounds good.

Excited, happy

0-2

Starving/Ravenous

Faint, sick, weak, gnawing in belly

I waited too long.   I’m starving.  I want to eat everything in sight.

I waited too long to eat, but that doesn’t mean I need more food.  I know if I really pay attention to my body, I can still eat the right amount of food and not binge.

Focused only on food, anger, desperation

Determination

When was the last time you overate or waited too long to eat?  What was the consequence and what did you feel?  How has the Hunger Discovery scale helped you begin to trust your body again instead of a diet or arbitrary nutrition rules?

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