Hunger and fullness exist on a continuum…the one end being completely empty, absolutely starving, the other end being completely full, overflowing. If you’re trying to identify your hunger and fullness patterns and sensations so you feel more stable about responding to them, these numbers with corresponding sensations can help. I recommend you begin eating at a “3” and try ending at a “7” – these graphics from the book are helpful:
0 – EMPTY
ANYTHING! You’ll eat anything and actually you want EVERYTHING! You want it all and then some. And you feel like adding extra (probably sweet stuff) for good measure. You feel crazed probably because you have low blood sugar and you feel dizzy, lightheaded and pissed at the world in general.
1 – NEARLY EMPTY
Your energy level is low and productivity is down. You probably feel shaky, have poor concentration and your mood is declining.
2 – REALLY HUNGRY
Your stomach feels empty and hollow and food is dominating your thoughts. You need to find some food fast and your energy levels are dropping. Junk food is starting to sound very appealing.
3 – HUNGRY
You can tell, within your body, it’s time to eat. If you wait any longer you’re going to start feeling physical symptoms that aren’t pleasant; symptoms that biologically you try to avoid.
4 – SLIGHTLY HUNGRY
You’re starting to think about your next meal. You could eat, but could also wait a bit. If you ate now, you’d probably only want a little.
5 – NEUTRAL
You are neither hungry nor full. You’re just doing your thing (whatever that is) and not thinking about food.
6 – SLIGHTLY SATISFIED
The hunger sensation is gone. There is food in your belly, but you could definitely eat more. If you stopped now, you would probably be hungry again soon.
7 – SATISFIED
Hunger sensation is long gone. You could eat more because it’s so comforting or because it tastes amazing or because it’s one of your favorites. You feel content and satisfied and don’t need to eat more.
8 – FULL
You were perfectly content and then pushed the envelope just a little. Those last three to four bites put you over the edge. If you’re wearing something tight around your belly, you want to loosen it a bit.
9 – NEARLY UNCOMFORTABLE
You overate and your stomach feels overfull. You’re finding it a little hard to breathe; you have to really concentrate and it’s a little painful and maybe a little nauseating. You do not want to talk about food.
10 – STUFFED
Oh wow. You went waaaay too far. You feel like the kid in the movie “A Christmas Story” wearing a constricting snow suit that allows little movement. You definitely need some comfy clothes, but you’re finding it hard to move, let alone breathe. Lying down is worse; you need to be propped up a bit.