Updated: Jul 1, 2022
One of the first things I work on with my clients is relearning how to eat like a natural eater.
In order to do this, we have to reconnect with the signals from our body that let us know when we’re hungry and when we’re full.
When we can listen to our body to tell us when to start eating and when to stop, we’ll always be able to eat the right amount of food that our body needs.
This is exactly how we ate as children, right? We intuitively knew when to eat, how much to eat, and when to stop.
We didn’t have to overthink it and we certainly didn’t have to follow a diet to control our eating. We simply ate when we were hungry, stopped when we were full, and that was that.
I want you to know that if you feel like this way of eating is impossible for you to return to (I know I did), it’s not. I promise.
The body doesn’t forget, nor does it stop giving us these signals. We simply need to relearn how to listen to them again.
Once you’re able to reconnect with your body’s innate hunger and fullness cues, this way of eating will become natural for you again and you won’t have to think about it so much.
In the beginning though, I teach my clients how to identify their hunger and fullness using the hunger scale.
The hunger scale helps us tune in to our body’s natural hunger and satiety sensations. The scale ranges from -10 (starving) to 0 (not hungry) to +10 (stuffed to capacity).
The beginning of hunger is -1 on the scale. I usually recommend to my clients that they eat from a -3 or -4 (comfortable hunger) to a +3 or +4 (comfortable fullness).
The best thing about using the hunger scale is that it helps you reconnect with your own body’s wisdom. We’ve become very accustomed to eating or not eating based on external factors such as diet plans, calorie counts, or even time of day.
We forget that the most important thing to do is simply to check-in with our body. This is the way we’re meant to eat. This is how natural eaters eat.
To practice using the hunger scale you can start by taking a moment before you eat to tune into your body and ask yourself these two questions:
1. Am I hungry?
2. Where on the hunger scale am I?
Remember there is no right or wrong answer here. If you’re not sure at first, just take a guess. The most important thing is that you’re checking in with your body and reconnecting to its natural hunger sensations.
Half-way through your meal check-in with your body again and notice where you are on the hunger scale. Then when you're done eating, check-in with your body once more and note where on the scale you are.
At first, don’t worry about changing anything about your eating.
The goal is simply to start reconnecting with your body and relearning what your specific natural hunger and fullness sensations feel like.