Monday, February 9, 2009

Hungerwork: Reconnecting to Hunger Cues

The longer someone has depended on external cues (diets or healthful eating advice) to guide their eating the more out of touch they are with internal cues that guide eating.

The whole idea of tapping back into the internal cue system is like a choose your own adventure book. The results/findings that you become aware of in each step determine the next step you take. This means that what works for one person may not work for another person. Everyone has different experiences and pasts. For some it may be very simple and for others it may be alot of work to regain the awareness of internal cues. How you answer the following questions helps determine what to do next.

Step 1: Understand your own experience of hunger and satiety.
  • How do you know when you are hungry?
  • How do you know when you are full?
  • How do you know when you are satisfied?
  • What is the difference between full and satisfied?
  • Does your hunder feel different at different times of the day? Sometimes more urgent? Sometimes more gentle?
  • How does your hunger vary from day to day?
  • What happens to your hunger when you do not eat right away?
  • Does the food taste differ depending on how hungry or full you are?

Possible responses to questions.

NOT listening to the body.

  • Stomach growling. (Just air moving through intestines, not a hunger signal)
  • Start thinking about food in response to an uncomfortable feeling or thought.
  • Crave certain foods.
  • Time of day.
  • Opportunity presents itself.
  • Think it's time to eat.
  • Believe you have not eaten enough food.
  • Haven't eaten since breakfast.
  • See of smell something enticing.
  • Plate is empty.
  • Belly Hurts
  • Pants get tight.
  • Stops when someone else stops.
  • Think that is all your suppose to eat.
  • Think this is all the food plan allows.

IS Listening to the body.

  • Feel dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Cranky or irritable.
  • Gnawing emptiness in the belly.
  • Lose interest in food.
  • No Longer hungry.
  • Feel full.
  • Physical hunger signs are diminishing or gone.
  • Feel satisfied.

Step 2: Quantify and monitor physical cues using the Basic Hunger/Satiety Scale.

  • Create a language for hunger and satiety. Use a 0 to 10 scale. 5 being nuetral. 10 being Thanksgiving Dinner full. 0 being empty.
  • Rate your hunger at this moment.
  • Each person will have their own rating scale.

Example Hunger Scale:

  • 0 - Starving and beyond.
  • 1 - you are so hungry you want to order everything on the menu.
  • 2 - Everything looks good. Very preoccupied with Hunger.
  • 3 - Hungry and urge to eat is strong.
  • 4 - Little Hungry. You can wait to eat, but you know you will be getting hungrier soon.
  • 5 - Not hungry. Not full.
  • 6 - No longer hungry. Sense food in the belly but could eat more.
  • 7 - Hunger is gone. If you stopped here you may not feel hungry for 3 - 4 hours.
  • 8 - Not uncomfortable but definitely have a full belly.
  • 9 - Moving into uncomfortable.
  • 10 - Very uncomfortable maybe even painful.

You may ask, "Where should I start eating and where should I stop eating?" Having strict guidelines would resemble dieting. The answer is, "It depends." One must consider the situation when deciding at what point they should start eating and at what point they should stop eating.

For example, if you will not have oppurtunity to eat again for several hours you may want to eat to a point of 8. Or if you know you will have a snack in a couple of hours you may only eat to 6. It all depends on when you will have the oppurtunity to eat again.

REMEMBER: Eating dessert every day or eating a high-fat diet does not necessarily cause weight gain, but consistent nonhunger eating will.

Step 3: Use a food journal, if needed. (Not a necessary step, but it may help you see the whole picture.)

  • Quality of Diet. Any meal pattern guide can be used. You want to choose one that is supportive to your health.
  • Hungerwork (0 - 10 scale from above) Graph where you start on the scale at the before point of eating and then graph where you stopped eating.
  • Moods, Thoughts, or Feelings. It is suggested that one seek out supervision with a therapist when exploring the relationship between these things especially if there is a strong relationship between the two.

So, with all this being said it starts to get deeper and deeper into the issue at hand. Some maybe able to help themselves from here. Some may need a little guidance from others. Some may need to seek guidance from a professional.

I may or may not continue to blog about this specifically but if you would like more information and I don't blog anymore about it feel free to email me directly


1 comment:

Heather & Adam said...

Thanks Carrie! Great info, as always.