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How Do I Know when I am Hungry or Full?

Going too long between eating and overeating at mealtimes makes it harder to know when you are hungry and when you are full.

During your meal or snack (at about halfway is best), take time out to check in with your body. Does the food still taste good? Do you want more? Are you still hungry? If no, then stop eating.

Before, during and after a meal use this scale to help you know your hunger and fullness cues.

At 0, you are starving. You've gone too long without eating (6-8 hours) and are possibly irritable and grumpy. You might be feeling nauseous or dizzy, or you may have a headache.

At 1, you are ravenous. All you can think about is how hungry you are. You can only think about what you want to eat. When you do eat it is likely that you will overeat.

At 2, you are too hungry. You are probably irritable. You may have a headache. Your stomach might be aching by now. It has probably been 4 or more hours since you last ate.

At 3, you are having hunger pangs. It's time to eat. Your body is giving you the natural signals that it needs food. This is a good number to start eating--wait any longer and you will be too hungry. It has probably been about 2-3 hours since you last ate.

At 4, your hunger is just starting to awaken. There is a sense of emptiness in your stomach. This can also be good time to eat. You may have eaten about 2 hours ago.

At 5, you are neutral. You aren't hungry or full-this sensation exists between mealtimes. If you feel this and want to eat, it is not due to hunger-you may want to eat out of boredom or stress.

At 6, you are just satisfied. You aren't hungry anymore, but probably will be in about 2 hours. There is definitely more room for food, and you still feel light and energized. This is a good place to finish a meal or snack.

At 7, you are 'just right'. You have had your fill of the food you wanted. You are no longer hungry and you probably won't need to eat again for approximately 3 hours. This is also a good place to finish a meal or snack.

At 8, you had a few bites too many. You ate a few more bites because it was there or tasted good. You might feel a bit bloated like you need to undo the top button of your pants. You may not be hungry for another 4-5 hours.

At 9, you are stuffed. You have gone overboard. Your meal has gone past the point of pleasure and you now feel uncomfortable. You may feel a bit numb or sleepy. You will not be hungry for approximately 6 hours.

At 10, you feel sick. You feel uncomfortable to the point of pain. You may need to lie down until you feel better. You can expect to be hungry again in another 7-8 hours.


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