Weight Loss Support - Feeling hungry

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03-04-2007, 05:04 AM
what does feeling hungry actually feel like?

if your only supposed to eat when you feel hungry how are you supposed to eat when you dont know what it feels like?

i am like many people, eat three meals a day regardless of whether im hungry or not. maybe if i just ate when im hungry things would get easier.

i have noticed a loss this week, which is good because ive only ran three hours :D

03-04-2007, 05:16 AM
I read about the "hunger scale" in Paul McKenna's "I can make you thin" book. I'm an emotional eater and I also seemed in the past to have issues with not wanting to ever get hungry so I just grazed all the time. While Paul didn't make me thin :D I was able to make a change in determining whether I was hungry or not.

I just got this from the internet, not Paul's book, but same principle...


At 0, you are empty. You probably haven’t eaten in quite some time (7+ hours). You might be feeling nauseous, dizzy, or light-headed. You might have trouble concentrating. Your metabolism is slowing down to conserve energy. These are all signs that your body is begging for food.

At 1, you are ravenous. All you can think about is how hungry you are. You are consumed with ideas about what you want to eat. Because you’re so hungry, once you do eat, it’s likely that you will over-eat to compensate.

At 2, you are over-hungry. You’ve been thinking about food for a while now. You are probably irritable. Your stomach might be aching by now.

At 3, you are having hunger pangs. It’s time to eat. Your body is giving you the natural signals that it needs food. You start to salivate when you think of something that tastes good, and your stomach might be growling.

At 4, your hunger is just starting to awaken. Eating isn’t your biggest priority, but you’re planning to do it in the next hour or two.

At 5, you are neutral. You aren’t really hungry but you might have a light snack if someone offers you something.

At 6, you are just satisfied. You aren’t hungry anymore, but probably will be again fairly soon.

At 7, you are completely satisfied. You got your fill of the food you wanted. You are no longer hungry and you probably won’t need to eat again for 3-5 hours.

At 8, you are full. You had just a couple bites too many. You might feel a bit bloated like you need to undo the top button of your pants..

At 9, you are stuffed. Your eating experience has surpassed pleasure and is now just uncomfortable.

At 10, you are sick. You feel terrible. You are likely to throw up or need to lay down until you feel better.

Ideally, a person begins eating at a 3 and ends eating between a 6 and 7. Even once you’ve mastered the hunger scale will you constantly eat between 3 and 7? No way. There are all kinds of other factors that might effect your eating. Sometimes a hectic schedule causes you to go without food longer than you’d like. Sometimes you take a snack even when you aren’t hungry just to be polite. Sometimes you eat a little beyond your comfort level of a certain food because you rarely get to have it. These are all okay things and you should NEVER criticize yourself for them. Instead, just be mindful of how far you’ve gone below or above your ideal hunger level.

03-04-2007, 07:26 AM
I've been trying to learn to identify true hunger most of my life, but I've had a really hard time of it. Even though I've gone days with out eating (in high school), I'm not sure I can say that I've ever been able to distinguish appetite from hunger. Being obese virtually all of my life (at least after the age of 4), I think my hunger signals have always been crossed. Even though my family didn't have perfect eating habits, I was the only one OBSESSED with food. I was always hungry, often even after eating until my stomache hurt, I still felt like I was STARVING. Even as a young child I remember hiding food, and finding ways to eat without being noticed.

I remember in college, when we studies Prader Wili syndrome (a syndrome causing a host of symptoms including obesity, mental ******ation, and an insatiable appetite - most parents of Prader Wili children actually have to put a lock on the refrigerator and food cabinets) - I remember identifying with these children, and wondering if I too had some "brain defect" that warped my perception of hunger. Distinguishing between mind hunger and body hunger has always been nearly impossible for me.

I read an article recently (it might have been in Prevention, but I'm not sure) that many overweight people have difficulty recognizing hunger, and also are more likely to confuse appetite (desire for food) with true hunger. The article also pointed out that many people have different experiences of hunger. Some may never feel hunger pangs in the stomache, but might instead become irritable, get a headache, or become light-headed.

Even though I've gained some control over food obsessions, I still have difficulty identifying hunger. Often my husband will notice that I've waited too long to eat, before I will. I get very irritable and get a headache. He will notice me getting impatient and irritable, and will ask when I've eaten.

This thread really hit home for me, because I had an unmistakeabe true stomache hunger experience this morning. I've been sick for a couple weeks now (on Tuesday finding out, I have pneumonia), and I've had absolutely NO appetite mentally or physically, having no desire ot eat whatsoever (extremely rare for me, even when I'm sick). I've been on the antibiotic five days now, and late this morning, I was working on the computer, and noticed I was starting to feel kind of "sick." I had a headache, but I also felt sort of weak and nauseous. I was actually quite concerned at the sudden uncomfortable symptoms, and suddenly realized it was hunger.

Eating low glycemic index, lower carb, and whole foods, counting calories, drinking water, and eating several smaller meals, seem to help with cravings and the desire to eat huge amounts of food in one sitting, but
I don't know if I'll ever be able to identify true hunger well enough to eat "intuitively."

03-04-2007, 08:30 AM
kaplods, I'm really glad you went to the dr. and got some treatment! I hope you feel better soon. Yogurt is great after you finish the antibiotics--helps restore your digestive system. If you like yogurt that it...

Veveteen, that's a very helpful scale! Thanks for posting it!

I have learned to distinguish between "body hunger" and "mouth hunger." I think the latter might be what Gamerchick was talking about in her thread about "taste." Body hunger is the body crying out for food, whereas mouth hunger is a conditioned response to "goodies."


03-04-2007, 08:47 AM
Great post, Velveteen, I've printed it off for future reference.

I too have difficulty recognizing true hunger and often confuse hunger with being tired -- subconsiously thinking that eating something will help me stay awake and alert when in fact, it just tends to make me even sleepier.

Many of us with a continuing history of obesity may never really resolve this hunger dilemma; but collecting all the information available is definitely a step in the right direction.

Good luck, 100py . . . just don't go too far the other way . . . sometimes you have to eat to keep your body fueled even if you don't think you are feeling hungry.

Have a great moving and shaking kind of day, gang. :carrot:

03-04-2007, 10:43 AM
Me too. I very seldom have a feeling of emptiness accompanied by growling. I still have trouble with what it feels like to be comfortably full or satisfied. I do recognise over-full.
Maybe some day I'll learn this but my mind and my munch-craving mouth do interfere ... a lot!

03-04-2007, 11:05 AM
Glad I could help :) I'm in a constant process of working on this myself so I know exactly what many people are talking about. Since I absolutely LOVE food it's hard for me to say "no" to something when it's presented to me so I have to continually ask myself if I'm really hungry or not.

03-04-2007, 11:20 AM
Velveteen, this is a great chart you posted!!!!! Yes, it is a constant, ongoing process. I used to eat all the time, regardless of hunger. Thank G-d that is no longer the case. It took me a while to get to the conclusion that although I WANTED something to eat, I was not necessarily hungry. Bored yes, hungry no. Craving something yes, hungry no. The key is to really THINK about it. I also find when I feel like eating something just for the sake of eating a drink of water will do the trick.

Having said that, I really don't like the FEELING of being hungry, so when #4 starts kicking in - it's time for me to eat. I eat my 3 meals a day plus 2 or 3 snacks to AVOID feeling hungry. I just don't like it.

I never get overstuffed anymore - never. I am barely full most of the time. This was a scary concept for me as well, since I was so used to that stuffed feeling. But you do get used to it and see that it really is all that you need. It does take a conscious effort to realize that. You must make the decision to not allow yourself to get too full.

03-04-2007, 12:09 PM
I still have problems with feeling like I am over full and less than 15 minutes later feeling hungry or even over hungry. Its better than it used to be but has been worse again this week.

03-04-2007, 01:42 PM
I still have problems with feeling like I am over full and less than 15 minutes later feeling hungry or even over hungry. Its better than it used to be but has been worse again this week.

It has been my experience that at least some of that problem is related to the types of food you are eating, not just the amount. I had that problem a lot when I was eating food that was mostly a lot of empty calories with not many nutrients.

03-04-2007, 01:44 PM
Colleen, hope you feel better soon..and take good care of yourself..DH should be bringing you lots of hot chicken soup, warm beverages and extra vitamin-C as well as the yogurt Jay suggested (at any rate that's what mom has always recommended :)).

I think its far better to eat at certain times rather than according to when hungry. Often by the time you feel hungry its too late as you may not have healthy food available to you. Then you are starving (i.e. ravenous) and you will eat anything, including the nearest fast food etc (ya get the point). I get that way a lot (namely yesterday..grrr) because DH is slim and has a very weird appetite where he can go very long periods without eating, and I am the opposite, I must eat constantly or I get nauseous, weak and quite nasty and irritable. It is a horrible feeling and sometimes you will eat anything to make it stop. Once ravenous, I will chow down a lot really quickly.

I recently had my resting metabolic rate tested and my test reading actually came back as a higher than normal metabolism, so no wonder I'm constantly hungry. But really, if I dont eat at certain times, unless I've had a huge meal earlier, I will go from the hunger pang stage to the empty stage very quickly. When you're running around town with a DH who doesnt get the urgency of the situation, things can turn ugly. Yesterday I wanted to just fill up at a diner on a high fat meal because last week I ate an average of 1450 calories and frankly just wanted to feel really satisfied and I knew DH wanted to go out for the whole day running around. Well we never did get to eat anywhere (except I grabbed an order of 5 fried vegetable dumplings) and I was just thinking about food the whole day, but somehow couldn't find anything I wanted to eat (once hungry I become extra picky for some reason). I did end up losing another .5 pounds so I must admit I was a bit glad DH kept me from a high cal meal (I ended up eating 1550 calories..but ravenous in the process). Better off planning ahead when you can to eat something healthy so you don't get hungry at the wrong time and end up with high fat/calorie food.

03-04-2007, 02:47 PM
It has been my experience that at least some of that problem is related to the types of food you are eating, not just the amount. I had that problem a lot when I was eating food that was mostly a lot of empty calories with not many nutrients.

Nope, not for me. Its better when I follow a diabetic diet, but its still there.

For example, last night: Grilled chicken breast, salad, small serving of mixed whole grains with some olive oil and toasted pine nuts, large serving of assorted roasted veggies with a sprinkle of parmesan, iced tea. STUFFED. 15 minutes later STARVING

03-04-2007, 03:27 PM
I still have problems with feeling like I am over full and less than 15 minutes later feeling hungry or even over hungry. Its better than it used to be but has been worse again this week.

I got like that too. Especially when I was breastfeeding and baby was in a growth spurt. I would eat a great, healthy filling meal and within 30 minutes, be scrounging for leftovers. It did pass, thankfully. I find I still have days like that, but if I look at my calander it's usually in relation to if I've just ovulated<the 24 hours when ovulation occur are a huge hunger trigger for me> and if I'm within 24 hrs of starting TOM I feel ravenous.

03-04-2007, 03:36 PM
you know I might be at TOM right now...hard to say. I use mirena so my TOM is really really light to nonexistant and I havent really established a regular schedule since baby (still ebf) but I've had a couple things make me think this is maybe TOM

lol growth spurt hunger is a whole nother beastie. His 12 week growth spurt just about killed me. I went up from my normal 2000 or so calories to 2600 for those days and still had a deep down bone level hunger/weakness feeling.

Even beyond nursing though, I have always just had a huge huge appetite. That was really frustrating to me because I have never been a junk food junkie. I got fat on whole grains, veggies, lean meats, fruits, etc. It is better than it used to be because I have solved some insulin resistance issues, but its still there.

Given a room with 100% healthy food doled out to me in perfect protein/carb/fat ratio but no way for me to count calories, just go by hunger, I think I would eat about 3000 calories a day.

03-04-2007, 08:39 PM
Ennay, guess we have more in common than the ages of our babies :). I've always eaten lots of healthy stuff but I'm just ravenous most of the time. I am not hungry when I eat around 2200 calories, but unfortunately I need to eat around 1700 or so to lose weight regularly. Can't wait til I'm maintaining again because I didn't have to starve just to get to a good size, just had to watch what I ate but I could get away with eating lots to fill up my huge appetite without becoming overweight. To those who can eat 1200 to 1400 a day and feel satisfied, consider yourselves lucky!

03-05-2007, 06:49 AM
I usually know that I need to eat if I feel faint, have stomach rumbles and want to kill whoever I'm talking to at the time! :lol: I turn into the she-devil and you'd better not stand between me and fridge, otherwise I'm taking you OUT! :boxing:

I talked to my skinny DH about this, and he says that he never has tummy rumbles, he just feels faint when he needs to eat and gets a bit of a headache. I said that I hated feeling faint, and how do you not eat something that's right in front of your face if you're that hungry? He then offered that as an explanation why people have regular mealtimes! :lol:

I also think that I'm hungry when I'm tired. I know this is a evil fault in my wiring somewhere and I have to tell myself that it's caffiene I need, not sugar! :lol:

03-05-2007, 08:40 AM
My hunger symptoms get so bad my blood sugar has been tested twice, but it came back normal. I do get just like 2frustrated, and like her DH, my skinny DH gets a headache rather than the crazed feeling I get (he doesnt even know he's hungry and I have to suggest he eat, at which point his headache goes away). Lucky him and no wonder he's skinny. Once I even thought, I'll just eat only when DH eats and then eat what I want at that time. Well I was starving and couldn't keep this up longer than a few hours. LOL. The things we come up with to lose weight!

Now that I think of it, my skinny sister and father also do not get these hunger feelings and can go very long hours without eating. I discovered this when the 4 of us (my little baby came of course :)) went on a weekend trip recently. The first day I ate a light healthy breakfast and was of course hungry again within a few hours. I had taken some yogurt along and ate that, but a bit later was hungry again. Meanwhile, my sister and Dad were no where near hungry and we didnt end up eating for hours. For the next few days I ate high calorie high fat meals with pretty much abandon (watching a little on the portions though) so that I could go longer without eating to keep up with them. I did end up losing a few pounds following the "skinny plan".

But when home I tend to eat somedays when I'm not hungry as well as hungry so I couldnt follow their diet all the time. My sister and Dad religiously eat 3 meals a day, with very little snacking in between. But they must have their meal, and its always a balanced fairly healthy meal. They're plan is interesting, but not for everyone. I guess for someone like me, its better to eat several small meals throughout the day and evening.