Do you always feel like you are hungry and need to eat? Do you eat even when you are not hungry? Do you eat until you are stuffed and uncomfortable? Can you even determine what true hunger is for your body? Hunger is your body’s natural signal that tells you when to eat and how much. Hunger is a temporary, passing physical feeling indicating a need for nourishment. Growling is natural contractions of the stomach, however, it is not necessarily linked with true hunger, especially if you have some extra weight on you.

How many times have you walked away from the table or and felt incredibly uncomfortable and maybe even painful? Depending on the amount you overate it can take 30 minutes or even hours to recover. It’s become more and more common as servings in restaurants seems quite often to be “super-sized” and we feel like we need to eat everything we’ve ordered.

When you were a baby, you only ate when you were hungry and needed food and when you had enough food you pulled away from the food because you were satisfied and content. As adults, we feel like we need to eat everything put in front of us no matter how full we are. If you continue to eat when you are not hungry, you’re consuming calories your body doesn’t need.

In Renée Stephens’s book, Full-Filled, she suggests using a hunger scale in order to rate your hunger and avoid overeating and consuming too many calories. She helps you familiarize yourself with what true hunger feels like for your body by rating your feelings. Rate your hunger with a 0 for pass-out-on-the-floor hungry and a 10 for stuffed-like-a-Thanksgiving-turkey feeling. She suggests to keep track and familiarize your body’s levels. She adds if you want to lose weight, you ideally want to go into a meal at 0 or 2 on the hunger scale and finish your meal at a 5 or 6. Use these numbers as a guideline – you alone can only determining where on the scale your body feel truly hungry, satisfied and full.

Some can confuse physical hunger with emotional hunger. It may feel exactly the same to them, and because they’re always feeling hungry, they’re always eating. If you have been eating to satisfy an emotional hunger, distinguishing it from physical hunger may feel hard for you. In her book, Renee helps you release the emotional pain associated with your unhealthful eating habits, and helps you reconnect and tune back in to your body’s natural signals of hunger.

Things to keep in mind to help you determine your true hunger and even help you lose weight.

  • It is easy to confuse hunger with thirst. You may think you are hungry, but what our bodies really need is a nice big glass of water. Pay attention to your level of thirst. So, next time you think you are hungry drink  8 oz of water or other healthy beverage instead of reaching for food. If you are still hungry after drinking the water, then you are most likely hungry.
  • Take note of your body’s hunger –  rate your hunger and track it to learn your body’s hunger scale.
  • Recognize your full and satisfied feelings.
  • Never eat without being hungry.
  • Never eat more than it takes for the hunger to go away.
  • Start rejecting overeating by focusing on your hunger scale and when you begin to feel full and satisfied, put down your fork and push away the plate. When dining out, have the server divide your meal and place it in a to-go box.
  • Eat before you encounter extreme hunger. This helps prevent binge eating and keeps you from overeating.
  • Eat slowly. It takes 20 minutes for the brain to send a signal that we are full. If you think you are still hungry after eating, wait 20 minutes and reassess.
  • Limit processed foods. High fructose corn syrup and other artificial sweeteners confuse our hunger signals.
  • Drink 8 oz. of water, tea or cranberry water to determine if you are hungry or thirsty.

To learn more about The 6-Week Weight-Loss Plan for Changing Your Relationship with Food-and Your Life-from the Inside Out click here.


  1. Dr. Naomi Beltz on June 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm

    Great article Carol

  2. Lisa Stafford on June 13, 2012 at 7:37 am

     Right on, Carol.