When hunger strikes, it can be hard to resist shoveling anything and everything into your mouth, at speed.
But the problem comes with telling when enough is enough.
As babies, we were primed to beat food away when full. But as adults, it’s trickier. We grown-ups not only eat food for fuel, but let’s be honest, pleasure and comfort are key driving forces.
As a result, it’s harder to gauge when we are full, leading us to overeat and in some cases, gain weight.
But experts have revealed that you can use a simple tool that can stop you from over-fueling yourself and might even help you lose weight.
By visualizing a “hunger scale” experts at MyFitnessPal said you can start to understand what your hunger cues really mean.
They say you should imagine your hunger on a scale on zero to 10, with zero feeling empty and 10 feeling stuffed.
To use the hunger scale to lessen your chances of emotional eating, you first need to measure your hunger before you eat.
They explain: “If you rate yourself overly hungry at 0–2, pay extra attention to how fast you are eating.
“Purposely slow down, so you don’t pass through satisfaction without even recognizing it.
“Gentle hunger can be felt at 4, and slight satisfaction is felt at 6.”
Nutritionist Kristina LaRue said these are ranges in which it is normal to eat, but keep in mind, that you may not need very much at all to get you to the point of satisfaction.
In this case, a small snack may do the trick.
If you’re satisfied and not physically hungry and you’re tempted to eat, she said you should ask yourself what it is you actually need.
This is because if you’re eating in reaction to your emotions then you will still feel empty.
While eating your meal, you should measure your hunger halfway through.
Rather than being on autopilot, Kristina said you should keep checking in with the hunger scale throughout the meal.
“If you are stuffed and still have food on your plate, don’t throw in the towel and continue eating to oblivion.
“Instead, push your plate away, ask for a to-go box, freeze leftovers or compost it”, she added.
Once you finish your meal you should then rank your hunger again.
Feeling comfortable satisfaction at the end means you have chosen the right portion size.
But if you’ve overdone it, then that’s ok as this is something that happens to everyone.
WASTE NOT WANT NOT
The guru explained: “Don’t beat yourself up or feel guilty. Instead, question why you continued to eat past the point of fullness.
“Were you overly hungry when you started? Did the food just taste too good, so you didn’t want to stop? Or maybe you didn’t want to ‘waste’ it?“
Kristina said that before you can use the scale properly you need to be able to identify what true hunger is, especially if you’re in the habit of yo-yo dieting.
She added that a great way to recalibrate your hunger scale is to eat balanced meals from a variety of food groups.
You should combine this with an appropriate food pattern, so eating every four or so hours.
“This helps your body get back in tune with a rhythmic eating pattern and allows normal peaks and valleys in satiety.
“Until your meter has been recalibrated, it’s tough to really get a clue on hunger and fullness,” she added.
This story originally appeared on The Sun and has been reproduced here with permission.