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Handy Hunger Scale

Intuitive eating at holiday parties

When is the last time you felt truly hungry? With holiday parties and plenty of other eating opportunities, intuitive eating may come in handy this season.  It’s not a diet, and you don’t avoid foods, or restrict what you eat.  Instead you pay more attention to how you feel, eating when you’re hungry and stopping just before you’re full!

Studies show that this non-dieting style of eating has been associated with healthier weights and better food attitudes.  One 2018 study from the University of Otago, observed over 1,600 women, 40-50 years old for five years and their findings reinforced this concept.  Using diet analysis and surveys, researchers found that participants made healthier food choices, ate more fruits and vegetables and made fewer unhealthy choices while using intuitive eating methods that considered both physical and satiety cues.

One of the most basic intuitive eating methods uses a hunger scale and it can be used anywhere!  Before eating anything, users rate hunger on a scale from 1 to 10.  At a 1 you are so hungry you would eat anything, at a 5 you’re feeling neutral, neither hungry nor full, while at an 8 – you are full and content and don’t want anything else to eat.  At a 10 you’re so full, you’re simply stuffed.  Our dietitian’s tip is to try to stay between a 3 and 6 on the scale to avoid overeating and enjoy your meal.  You may also consider jotting down your number before and after meals along with how you feel both physically and mentally; doing so can help you identify your personal eating style.  Master this technique and your holiday cocktail party or pot luck luncheon will be easier on your waistline.

Published December 1, 2018

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