Monday, September 04, 2000

Healthy Eating

Get in touch with body's natural hunger response

        Question: People tell me that to lose weight I should only eat when I'm hungry. Honestly, I don't know what it feels like to be hungry. I either feel nothing or feel famished. How do I start to learn my body's signals of hunger?

        Aswer: It's not uncommon for people who are trying to restrict what they eat to not identify the subtle signs of hunger that their body sends them. For discussion, let's define hunger as the state of discomfort or weakness caused by a lack of food.

        For some people this means they experience a sense of being “light-headed,” some feel an empty sensation in their belly, some people hear their stomach “growl.” If hunger builds, it can feel like an urgent sense to eat anything. And at that point, most people will overeat because normal portions are not satisfying.

        To get connected to your body's signals of hunger you may want to try keeping a hunger journal for a couple of days. Before eating anything ask yourself how hungry you are.

        Pay attention to your energy level, your appetite, and your sense of fullness in your belly. Use a “0” for an intense hunger, you don't care what you get to eat as long as you get some food. Use a “3” for a strong urge of hunger. Use a “4” when you are a little hungry. You can eat, but you will know you will be getting hungrier soon. Use a “6” to indicate you are not hungry and not full.

        Also ask yourself how do you decide when to start eating and to stop eating? Would your eating style be different from what it is now, if it didn't impact your weight or health?

        Paying closer attention to the way your body feels during the day will help you to get reconnected to your hunger levels.

        These steps may seem awkward at first, but following them will help you get reconnected to your body's natural hunger response, and help you follow through with your plan of only eating when physically hungry.

        Healthy Eating is provided by staff members at Jewish Hospital Weight Management Center (, Evendale.


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