LivingBetter Online Magazine

Ideas for improving health and lifestyle. Copyright Living Better Magazine ISSN 1935-6161

Monday, December 14, 2009

How hungry am I?

Dr . Michelle May, M.D. struggled with weight problems most of her life. She has found that diets don't work. Instead people need to make a lifestyle change, which she describes in her book Eat what you love; Love what you eat.

One tool she presents is the Hunger and Fullness Scale. It assesses your hunger and fullness levels before, during and after eating. "It will help you identify hunger cues, observe how different types and amounts of food affect you, and recognize when the urge to eat has been triggered by something other than hunger...."

The Hunger and Fullness Scale ranges from 1 to 10, with a level of 1 representing ravenous, and a level of 10 meaning you're so full that you're in pain and feel sick. The smaller numbers mean your stomach is smaller stomach; the larger numbers mean the stomach is larger.

Level 5, in the middle of the scale, equates to being satisfied and comfortable. At a 5, you cannot feel your stomach at all. It's neither empty nor full; it isn't growling or feeling stretched. This may be how your stomach feels after you've eaten a light breakfast, writes Dr. May. 

Here is a description of the scale:

1 = Ravenous: a high-risk situation where you are too hungry to care what you eat.
2 = Starving
3 = Hungry
4 = Hunger pangs
5 = Satisfied: You are neither hungry nor full, but rather are content and comfortable.
6 = Full
7 = Very full
8 = Uncomfortable
9 = Stuffed
10 = Sick

If you are 5 or above, you know something other than hunger triggered your desire to eat. If you are a 4, you should either wait or eat a small amount. At 2 or 3 you should eat. Dr. May recommends you eat only enough so that you are at a level 5, where you are feeling comfortable. You can get a visual reminder of how much you need to eat by making a fist and then opening your hand. That's about the amount of food it takes to go from a level 2 to 5. If you're at a level 1, you need to exercise caution.  The tendency from a level 1 (a ravenous situation) is to overeat.

Here are some maxims about eating from Dr. May.

- Eating when you are hungry helps signal to your body that food will be available when you need it and it allows your metabolism "to run on high."
- Eating small meals satisfies hunger best.
- It may take 20 to 30 minutes after eating for your body to signal the brain that you are full.

Dr. May's book is available from or


Post a Comment

<< Home