Well you made it! You survived Thanksgiving…even if just by the skin of your teeth. And if you’re anything like me you’re probably scrambling to get ready for Christmas. The holidays can be a mix of celebration and stress! And both of those can get healthy eating off track. So it’s important to stay mindful of our eating especially through the holidays.
With so many sweet treats around us now 24/7, mindful eating can seem almost impossible. Stack a hectic schedule and a little holiday stress on top of that and it can become the perfect food storm. I can relate because I have battled with being an emotional eater and if I am not “mindful”, I can find myself gravitating to food when I am stressed, antsy and simply burning the candle at both ends. So I wanted to share a little tip that I (and my clients) use to help keep eating in check…it’s a hunger scale. A hunger scale chart is a wonderful way to help you listen to your body instead of your head before you eat.
If you can identify as an emotional eater, you are not alone. We all eat for many reasons and being hungry isn’t always one of them. Stress, anxiety, boredom, social influences, even exhaustion are just a few emotions that can drive us straight to food. And holidays are the perfect time for these emotions to become elevated. Using a hunger scale during this eating season is one of the best ways to keep the scale steady.
So when you find yourself standing in front of the refrigerator, over that plate of cookies or in the pantry looking for something to eat, first ask yourself…”Am I really hungry?” This little graphic might help you answer that question…
Emotional hunger vs. Physical hunger
|Emotional hunger comes on suddenly.||Physical hunger comes on gradually.|
|Emotional hunger feels like it needs to be satisfied instantly.||Physical hunger can wait.|
|Emotional hunger craves specific comfort foods.||Physical hunger is open to options–lots of things sound good.|
|Emotional hunger isn’t satisfied with a full stomach.||Physical hunger stops when you’re full.|
|Emotional eating triggers feelings of guilt, powerlessness, and shame.||Eating to satisfy physical hunger doesn’t make you feel bad about yourself.|
If you decide it is more “emotional hunger”, find something to distract yourself or grab a bottle of water. If it is “physical hunger”, see where you are on the hunger scale. The goal with the hunger scale is to never start eating below a 3 and to stop eating when you are at a 6:
10 So full, you feel like you will bust
9 Full and Uncomfortable
7 Starting to feel full
6 Slight feeling of fullness (good time to stop eating)
5 Neutral- feel energized and comfortable
4 Slight feeling of hunger (good time to eat)
3 Hungry (best not to drop below this)
2 Hungry and light headed
1 So hungry you feel shaky and can’t think straight
(will be hard to make healthy food choices, watch portions and eat slow)
Remember, it takes the body 15-20 minutes to feel full or satisfied. Eating slowly and pausing frequently can be helpful in figuring out when you need to stop eating to reach the feeling of 6 after a meal. I like to keep a copy handy of the hunger scale in the kitchen on my fridge and a copy in my purse. Keeping it handy helps me remember to use it.
You may find that using a tool like this feels a bit foreign at first, especially during the holiday season, and that’s okay. The key is to be mindful of why you are eating as well as what and how much you are eating.
Here is a simple, easy to use HUNGER SCALE for you to print and start using today.
Let me know how it works for you!
Hi! My name is Angela. I am a mom to 2 wonderful children, a wife and founder of Total Nutrition Technology. I believe that good health is contagious and I love sharing all I know about it…from recipes, eating tips for you & your kids to suggestions on how to incorporate healthy living into your schedule and so much more. I have been educating others about health and nutrition for the past 21 years and am excited to share this passion with you. **Special note – I am not associated in any way with the products I mention. They are simply things that I have found and fallen in love with and have made my life just a little easier.**