Hunger Directed Eating
Hunger-directed eating is a key component of being an intuitive eater.
Let's dig into it! There is a misconception in our society that suppressing and delaying hunger is a good thing. But this is false. Why?
Because we can't outsmart our biology! We get hungry for a reason. And the more that we prolong hunger, the more we're actually driving ourselves to overeat.
Let me explain. We can think about hunger-directed eating by using the intuitive eating hunger scale.
Check out the image below to give you an idea of what this looks like.
Becoming a hunger-directed eater.
Often people will wait until they are a 0, 1 or 2 on the scale before they start eating. Why is this an issue?
Well, the fact of the matter is, is that our brain, particularly our primitive brain, has one main job and that it is to keep us alive. Hunger in our body represents a lack of energy. The stomach growling and all those other hunger signals are our body's way of telling us that it needs calories AKA energy. And the hungrier we get, the more our body starts to worry that it does not have enough energy available to it.
The primitive part of our brain has not evolved enough to realize that being hungry isn't necessarily an imminent threat to our survival. It is still under the impression that we are living thousands of years ago when death was around every corner and the depletion of energy would make us susceptible to things like a lion attacking us (and us not having the energy to run away).
When we allow our hunger levels to get to the 0, 1, 2 on the scale, our primitive brain starts to panic.
And what does panic look like?
It looks like a pendulum swing all the way up to an 8, 9, or 10 on the intuitive eater's fullness scale.
That is because our brain wants to get our energy levels back up and it wants to do it quickly. Our attempt to reduce our calories by not honouring our hunger will likely result in our eating more calories than we would have had initially if we had eaten earlier. Completely backfiring!
We can also think about this as this feast-famine mentality. Meaning that the longer we go without food, (the longer we delay our hunger), the more our primitive brain thinks that we are in a famine.
And so what does our brain do?
It will send us strong urges and cravings to go eat lots of high-calorie (energy) foods, a feast!
So in fact what we think is self-sabotage, is actually self-protection as far as our brain is concerned.
We didn't blow our diet, it was our brains' way of trying to make sure we stayed alive. Thanks, brain!
Maybe you can relate that as we get hungrier, our body starts to crave higher-calorie foods.
Meaning that maybe when we are a 3 or 4 on the scale we might have sufficed with something more nutrient-dense like a protein and veggie-packed salad. But…. by the time we finally decided to go and eat and we're closer to a 0 on the scale, we’re wanting the chocolate bars and the candy.
Again why is that? Because high-calorie and high-sugar means high energy!
What can we do about this?
Well, we want to stay in The Intuitive Eaters Sweet Spot. Start eating when we're a 3 or 4 on the scale, and by doing so, we’ll be able to honour our bodies' fullness cues and stop eating when we're comfortable around a 6 or 7.
But wait! This is simply a small tip for hunger-directed eating. We need to be engaging in the full E.A.T framework in order to have true success!
Education, Accountability and Tools!
All 3 are required when learning to become an intuitive eater and good news, I teach exactly that in my online course!!
Are you curious to learn more about what hunger-directed intuitive eating can look like for you?
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