The second principle of Intuitive Eating is, honor your hunger. The first principle was all about letting go of diet mentality. Now it is time to tune into your hunger, learn what that feels like, and honor it. Learning to honor this biological signal in our body sets us up for rebuilding trust with food and ourselves.
Part of why we need to let go of diet culture before honoring hunger is because diet culture can cause us to ignore hunger cues. Being hungry is our body’s natural, physiological response to the need for food. It isn’t a bad thing or something to fear! When we feel signs of hunger our body needs something from us. Just like when we need to use the restroom and feel physical signs of this. I often talk to clients about how it is really normalized in our society to ignore hunger (i.e. drink water instead OR wait 20 minutes and it’ll go away…UGH!), but would you do that if you had to use the restroom?
Who here has experienced feeling overly hungry and out of control with food? I know I’ve been there before! When we aren’t feeding our body adequately and get overly hungry that triggers our body’s very primal drive to overeat. Hence, the give me all the food NOW feeling! When we learn to honor our hunger we can avoid this to the best of our abilities.
So how can you start to tune into your hunger?
Signs of hunger can include:
Mild gurgling or gnawing in the stomach
Increased thoughts of food
Uncomfortable stomach pain
Preoccupation with food
Questions to ask yourself?
Am I hungry? What is my hunger level (see hunger scale)?
How to Honor Your Hunger:
- Learn what hunger feels like for you
- Understand your personal hunger/fullness scale
- Feed your body when it’s hungry and also keep in mind what it is hungry for (we’ll learn more about this when we get to the Intuitive Eating principle: discover the satisfaction factor!)
- Use the general guideline of not going longer than 5 (max) waking hours without eating (if you are having trouble connecting to hunger); ideally eating every 3-4 hours
Just a side note here that just because you aren’t hungry doesn’t mean you can’t eat. There are times when we may not be able to notice our hunger for one reason or another. That doesn’t mean we don’t need food! Food is also a form of pleasure and satisfaction! Intuitive Eating is all about nourishing our body as well as our soul. This post is only talking about one specific principle so stay tuned for the rest in the coming weeks!
Lastly, for my eating disorder or disordered eating folks reading. If you have been severely restricting your intake or acting on eating disorder behaviors, Intuitive Eating is not appropriate for you just yet. There is a time and place when this will be appropriate. Following your meal plan and meeting with a Registered Dietitian is crucial in the early stages of recovery. As always, you can contact me here for help!
Source: Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2012). Intuitive eating, 3rd edition. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Griffin.