Honouring Hunger (and Fullness)

I’m sooo hungry!!! I’m starving!!!! Really?…Starving?

This week we are going to take a look at hunger and what it means to be truly hungry.

What is Hunger?

Think of a scale between 1 and 10, 10 being so full you can’t get off the couch, and 1 being so hungry that you need to eat right away and you’ll put anything in your body to stop feeling this way. Where would you put yourself right now?

What are the cues our body uses to warn us when we’re hungry?

At a 2 on that scale, I will start to feel a little sluggish, my energy level is low and I am starting to get brain fog. Sometimes I feel a hint of level 2 hungry before I think I should need to eat. At this point, I first reach for a glass of water.

Your body needs water more than anything else, and the feeling of hunger is another way for your body to signal your brain that it might be dehydrated. Water is the body’s lubrication and nutrition transportation tool. Turning on the system with a glass of water in the morning gives the body time to get the engine running. Remember, you have lots of fuel still in the tank from yesterday.

What is Fullness? 

That level 10. The reason for stretchy pants on Thanksgiving. The trick is to recognize when you hit a 7 on the fullness scale, and wrap up your meal before you reach for “one more scoop of potatoes”. That gives your “Stomach Brain” time to get the message to the ”Head Brain” via the vagus nerve to tell you you’re actually full. Then you can walk around after dinner like a normal human.

Yes, you have a brain in your stomach! 

Have you ever heard of the term gut feeling or gut instinct? It a real thing. Some people describe the feeling as butterflies or nausea. That is your Gut Brain saying hi! 

Peak Fullness

Where is the balance? What does it mean to find Peak Fullness?

That middle range, 5,6,or 7 on the scale – typically means you feel nourished, comfortable and energized. Less than that, and we’re constantly craving something to keep us going. More than that, and our bodies can shut down as the digestive machine gets overloaded. 

Peak Fullness feels different for every body, and can vary depending on the meal or even the time of day. Learning to listen to your body is critical!

How to Listen

Before we can listen to our body, we need to give it time to talk. Remember, your stomach brain takes time to talk to your head brain. Let’s slow things down a little. 

  1. Set the table – have a place where you eat… and only eat. No work. No TV. No phone, no distractions. Connect with your family, or take the quiet time to connect with your own brain. 
  2. Breathe. As you sit down to eat, take 3 deep, full breaths. This will reset the vagus nerve and prepare the body for food. Who knew saying Grace before a meal had another purpose?
  3. Put the cutlery down every once in a while. Once you put food in your mouth, put down the tools and chew your food. Savour the flavours and slow down. Take this time to be thankful and mindful of all the hands that brought the food to this point, from farm to table.
  4. Check into your fullness as you pause. How are you feeling when your eating? Have I had enough? Am I still hungry? Listen for the bodies cues.
  5. Make an announcement when you’re finished eating. Tell yourself, out loud, that you are done. You don’t have to finish everything off your plate. If you’re done, be done. Cover your plate, push it away from being right in front of you or remove it completely. This is a good time to put away leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.
  6. Gamify your meals. Try counting the number of times you chew a piece of food and watch your average. Try and be the last person to finish their meal. Critique your meal, does it have proper seasoning, flavour and textures. Don’t be too critical, just curious about how the meal was made.

Ritual Keeps us on Track

Now that you’re finished eating, whats next? How do you stick with your announcement that you’re “Done Eating”? 

Post meal rituals can help the body process the fuel it just received, and help you get to that happy state of 7 on the hunger scale. Take a walk, do the dishes, then write in a food or daily journal. Describe how you feel after eating, especially after an hour or two. 

Understanding our body’s personal Fullness Scale leads to a better relationship with our food. You’ll feel more satisfied, less overstuffed and hurt by your dinner. You’ll be less likely to reach for an unhealthy snack at a moment of weakness (remember to have a glass of water first!). You’ll sleep better, and wake better rested. You’ll probably start seeing the pounds melt off, too.  

Tune in next week when I will share some food rituals that will bring the ceremony back to the table. Let’s spend the soiree season sharing food and friendship with our friends and neighbors.

If you would like to learn more about honouring hunger and fullness, setup a 45 min Free Kick Off Coaching call with me today. Together we will find out why you are stuck and how to get unstuck. I can help you learn to listen to your personal fullness scale and control those cravings.