Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Hunger Scale

Hungry Vs. Tired/Sad/Depressed/Mad/Bored

The past few weeks I've been working on learning when I'm truly hungry. Only eating until I feel satisfied and actually stopping at the point of "feeling" satisfied.

For some people this probably isn't an issue. You're probably wondering what I'm talking about. You mean you eat when you're not hungry? You keep going when you're full? Well yeah. That would probably explain the plus size jeans...

Emotional eating. I do it. And over the holidays and through the past 6 months I did it a lot. There were some stressful weeks over the past few months... but it really wasn't all because of stress. And it's not because I was sad or frustrated or even mad... but bored? Quite possibly. Because it's a habit? Definitely. 

I know how to eat well. But actually making healthy eating a daily practice is often quite a challenge. And I get off track. It's almost like a bad "on again - off again" boyfriend that you just can't seem to shake no matter how unhealthy the relationship is. Yeah I had a few of those too.

But thanks to good friends like Erin Elbertson of Gluten Free Fitness  and Meghan Telpner of Making Love in the Kitchen... I'm trying to let go of that "on again - off again" bad boyfriend eating habit for good.

Meals lately have been simple. I'm focusing on lean proteins (so GLAD my body likes eggs, I'd be so sad if I couldn't eat them!), nuts, beans, fresh vegetables and fruits. I'm still eating carbohydrates, but I just keep an eye on how much I eat.

Last night my dinner was a veggie sandwich on Udi's bread. I very thinly spread some mayo (don't judge me, I'm working on cutting my southern girl mayo habit! lol) & some dijon mustard on the bread, and then I piled up sliced tomatoes, thinly sliced cucumbers, shredded carrots, and some fresh spinach. It was exactly what I wanted. It was satisfying. it was crunchy from the carrots and toasted gluten free bread. It was soft & a tiny bit sweet from the tomatoes. I'm trying to learn to eat fresh vegetables when my body craves them. I'm trying to be a better listener to my internal signals of what my body really needs.

But I also wanted cake. So I made a gluten free cake mix. I used egg whites, applesauce, and cut the oil in half. I made a loaf cake, which is so pretty it doesn't need icing. I had 2 small slices. I sliced up the rest of the cake and froze the slices so that they were not immediately accessible. I made a lower-fat version of the chocolate cake. And it was delicious. And I had just enough. It's still a process. 

I'm keeping a journal that includes my food intake/activity/water intake every day. I really stink at making sure I get enough water. I just never feel thirsty!

But I know that's part of the journey. I know that sometimes my brain tells me I want food when my body actually just needs some water. It's all a process. I'm learning. It will take time for this to be permanent. Erin is helping me learn that to make REAL & healthy habits stick it will take time. I need to start with small changes. So that is what I am doing.

Here is an excellent PDF that explains the hunger scale and how to start listening to the signals from your body: http://medweb.mit.edu/pdf/hunger_scale.pdf

How are you doing? Tell me about how your day is going? Do you keep track of your "hunger scale?"

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  1. Carrie, what a wonderful post! It is so true - emotional eating is my downfall. But, I overdo it especially when I am bored. I like that hunger scale, btw! Looks like you are doing awesome though! Keep it up!

  2. Wow, this was exactly what I needed to read today! I am sitting here craving a snack so badly. I just want something sweet but I know its empty calories. Sigh. I really need to learn to control how much I eat in a healthy way.

  3. Ohhh- I'm going through this too. I've lost 80 pds over the years but never conquered emotional eating. I read Women Food and God and got some really good things out of it and think I will revisit it. It's all a process and journey. I ate lunch the other day without TV or reading for the first time in a long time and it was like torture. Mindful eating is my goal!

  4. I am NEVER thirsty either. I struggle a lot with hunger and emotional eating. It is a constant struggle for me. I go through good times and bad but overall I'm still searching for that balance. It sounds like you're making all the right decisions Carrie! Keep up the great work!

  5. Great post! I identify with the plus size jeans, the vegan + eggs (oh, I love eggs too!) healthy eating, the emotional eating and the on/off eating. I'm going to copy/paste the text into my special folder of inspiration.

  6. I have figured out that over the years, I have mistaken my "thirst cues" for hunger pangs. A lot of my munching or overeating isn't because of hunger, but I'm actually dehydrated. It's not even emotional eating.

    My mother is a dietician and has told me a couple things about water intake:

    You should drink half your pound weight in ounces. So if you're 140 lbs, then you should drink 70 (one half of 140) ounces of water. The 8 glass a day rule isn't really accurate because everyone's got a different body mass. One might be drinking 8 glasses a day and it's still not enough.

    And also, when I'm not thirsty, it's actually because I'm already dehydrated. My body is focusing on survival and my ability to read my "thirst cues" is skewed. So I have a big plastic cup of water that holds 24 ounces. I know I need to have one done by 11 am. My 2nd by 3 pm and my last one by 7 (so I'm not peeing all night). This is regardless of the tea, coffee, soda, whatever else I might take in.

    Love your blog, btw! :-)

  7. Kim - thank you so much! I always appreciate your support! (((hugs!!!))))

    Sleeping Spot - Me too girl! I'm learning. It's not easy. I also get frustrated that when you change eating habits (at least for me) i don't get immediate results. I'm learning patience too!

    Jaime - I agree, I think it's hard to eat without a distraction of tv or the computer! I absolutely haven't conquered that yet. I don't know why it's comforting to sit in front of the tv with something to munch on... but it is! It will take me a while with that one!

    CupcakeGirl (Jenn) - Thanks chica! You know I really appreciate all your support! I want to have your weight loss success one day! You've come SO far!!

    Jean - ((((HUGS))) thank you so much! It can be kinda hard to tell the whole world about your personal issues... so I really appreciate it when other people can identify with me!

    Monkey Momma - thanks so much gal! Great info on water intake! I will definitely keep that in mind! Thank you so much for reading!!

  8. I definitely used to struggle with this a lot...taking a deep breath and thinking about what's happening between you and food puts things into perspective...I also made a pact with myself never to eat unless sitting at the table. It avoids the open-fridge door and stuffing my face moments. Learning about ayurvedic practices helped me a lot too.
    I wish you luck and strength on this!

  9. I too deal with emotional eating - and eating when I'm already full. It's something I'm working on - and recently, I've made it a point to slow down and really chew each bite (I know, novel concept!). This will give me more time to evaluate whether I'm full - although my primary goal was actually to assist my body in digesting, so I can have less issues later on. Also, if I eat a diet that is very focused on whole foods, I find that those cravings for sweets and empty calories lessen. I've been increasing my daily intake of raw foods and it helps too. I sincerely doubt anyone gained weight by eating too many carrots. :)

  10. such a timely post for me personally. ive let 20 lbs creep back on again. got to take another look at the Mindless Eating book from Brian Wansink at Cornell. the work those people are doing is amazing. what leads us to eat more than we need...well, for me anyway...i felt so stupid to fall for those cues. like....big plate...fill it up...eat it all. small plate, fill it up, eat less. seriously!! here's the book:


  11. Carrie,
    I love this post and thank you so much for your honesty and openness. I can tell you one thing for sure: one significant comfort for emotional eaters is simply knowing we're not alone! Hang in there and keep being kind to yourself no matter what!

  12. You are definitely not alone Carrie! I htink most of us have some bad relationships with not being able to guage hunger and full. I love the chart, very cool. Good luck!

  13. Good for you! That is something I struggle with because I like the feeling of satiety. I also love the taste of food and will keep eating it just so I can taste it! Not good :/ thanks for this post, its good to know I'm not alone!

  14. Amen. I think so many of us struggle with this. I applaud you for being so open about it. This is a conversation I have had often with girlfriends lately, and I'm going to share this post with a very dear friend who struggles just like you and me.

    Hugs from Wisco!

  15. I had to come by and give some big props to Carrie. She is making huge strides in changing her relationship with food for the better. It's been a very short period of time, and already her attitude and perspective have made shifts. It's about the long haul, about making healthy decisions for health and for life, not about the number on the scale. The weight will drop when the choices are made that nourish your body the proper amount. Carrie and I have talked about how you can eat too much of even healthy, "clean", nutritious food. I am very proud of her progress and know she will continue make improvements. Small changes + ass busting work + consistency + time = results.

  16. Thanks for this! I never know when I'm just full enough (satisfied) and was thinking about that the other day in the context of Meghan's 21 Days. The PDF is great. I'm going to print it out and keep in the two places I eat most often: My desk at work, and my living room. Maybe even add it to my little resource binder where I keep all my Meghan-y books.