Intuitive Eating – Part 3

Posted: April 6, 2010 at 9:00 pm

Are you ready for another installment on intuitive eating? I know I am no scientist, dietitian, or expert, but this is something I am passionate about and I love sharing my thoughts on the approach. Today I will be tackling principle two and how it will help with eating intuitively. To catch up on parts 1 and 2, click here for my introduction and here for rejecting the diet mentality. After reading, please be sure to share your insights as well 🙂

Principle Two - Honor Your Hunger

How easily do you recognize your hunger signals? Do you know what hungry feels like, in comparison to reaching the point of wanting to inhale anything and everything? Do you know what satisfied feels like, versus stuffed too full or having to convince yourself you have eaten enough? Hunger and fullness are two physiological signs that we should be able to easily recognize, but many of us do not. Perhaps it is because we follow a clock on when to eat. Perhaps it's because we stick to rules on how much should be in any given meal. Or perhaps its because we allow emotions, stress, boredom, etc to be the sole determination of how, what, and when we eat. And what about pills that have claims like this?

Hoodia Pills Ad


After following those types of actions for any extended period of time, we begin to lose sight of our bodies' signals. We may get to the point of only being able to recognize extreme hunger. That "MUST. EAT. NOW!" feeling. Have you ever not eaten when hungry because you weren't "supposed to", only to turn around and eat more than necessary and feel uncomfortable from eating too much? Most of you know I have experience there, back before Makenzie when I battled binging. Fluctuations like these are common when not eating based on biological hunger.

hehe this made me giggle


How can you learn to honor your hunger again? There are various things you can be mindful of to help reacquaint yourself with your own hunger cues.

  • Recognize and allow yourself to always have access to food. If you try to eat based on a certain number of calories, a certain number of meals/snacks per day, only eating certain types of food, etc your body and mind will register the deprivation. Even if you are eating enough, having any limitations in place can affect how you perceive your hunger.
  • Know you don't have to be ravenous to be hungry. Those are two different feelings and your body will respond differently to both. If you eat when simply hungry, you are more likely to be able to approach food in a rational manner, instead of being ravenous and consuming too much and not enjoying the process.
  • Check in with your body regularly and assess your hunger level on a 1-10 scale. This will eventually become unnecessary and is simply a step in getting your body aware of how it feels when hungry.
  • Don't consider eating only when hungry a way to lose weight and another diet mentality. It is perfectly acceptable to eat under different circumstances. The Intuitive Eating book mentions emotional eating, social eating, eating as a way of planning ahead (for example eating before hunger due to being in a meeting for hours and you know you will need to eat), and eating something purely for pleasure. Doing things mindfully are no reason to feel guilty and can definitely be part of honoring your hunger and intuitive eating.
  • Understand your body's warning signals. Some people may feel their stomach growling before others would in their level of hunger. Some may get a slight headache first. Others may get a bit cranky as a sign of hunger. *cough cough*  When checking your levels of hunger regularly with the 1-10 scale, focus on what your physiological symptoms are and being to recognize them for the future.

Are you aware of your hunger cues? What things of the above do you, or have you, struggled with the most? Which of Tribole & Resch's tips do you think are most helpful for honoring hunger?


No Comments to “Intuitive Eating – Part 3”
  1. love this! I eat intuatively and love love love it! so much better than when i inputted everything into and drove myself BONKERS!

  2. homecookedem says:

    I love that you’re focusing on intuitive eating!! Even though I’m sort of following body for life’s way of eating, I chose it b/c it closely fits my natural preference of how I like to eat. I don’t eat on any kind of schedule like I have in the past with “diets.” I now eat when I’m hungry and I don’t plan anything out… I eat what I want, when I want it. Intuitive eating is fabulous!! 🙂 This was such a well written post, well done Tina!!

  3. Vee says:

    Great post. I used to confuse hunger in the past with ‘boredom’ and other feelings. Only when I stopped thinking about food, I actually started seeing food as a fuel.

  4. Another great post. I am very aware of my hunger cues and really do try to eat only when hungry as opposed to every x number of hours. Though, I do typically eat every 3-4 hours. I am one of those people who get really ugly to be around if I allow myself to get too hungry. I always keep snacks with me. I have a drawer at work that is filled with things like almonds, clif bars, even cinnamon, stevia, and protein powder for my other snacks I keep in the fridge. LOL. My coworkers think I just eat all day long!

  5. I started reading this book but didn’t finish…I know, I’m horrible! But I did get a lot out of it. Like so many people with EDs and disordered eating in the past, it had been YEARS since I’d really eaten when hungry. For me, it was all about the right time and the foods with the right calorie content. Some days I eat meals just 2-3 hours apart, which I used to make myself wait at least 4-5 hours. I realize now this is so silly, and I’m a MUCH happier person to be around!

    One thing I do really, really struggle with is deciding what food sounds good when I’m hungry. I have it so engrained it me to stick to my “safe” foods (yogurt, fruit, Larabar, etc.), that I have trouble thinking, “I really want ___ for dinner.” I know that sounds odd. 🙂 I’m working on it, though!

    Thanks for the great review!

  6. Kelly says:

    This is an awesome post! I love it! You are quite amazing Tina! 🙂

  7. i really appreciate your in-depth on this. i think the thing that stuck out to me the most is that you don’t have to be ravenous to be hungry, and taking that seriously. for so long i thought i had to be hungry enough to just faint if i was going to eat, and it’s been a severe battle to get past that!

  8. Lindsey says:

    I definitely am aware of my hunger signals and I always try to eat before I am ravenous b/c I usually do end up eating too much when that happens. I like the 1-10 scale idea as well, I try to use that when I am in the process of eating so that I don’t stuff myself.

    I love intuitive eating, thanks for sharing with everyone! 🙂

  9. I used to struggle with this alot when I first started losing TOO much weight. My stomach would growl and growl and growl, but I just kept drinking water, making myself believe that it wasn’t okay to eat because “it wasn’t mealtime yet”…SO WRONG! I am so glad I’ve gotten healthier and can totally relate to this topic! Great post, Tina! It’s so cool to see how much I’ve grown, nutritionally in knowledge! I feel ten times healthier.

  10. Jenn N. says:

    I recognize early hungry signs REALLY quickly and always try to honor those or else I know I will be like that kitty in the picture. (Super cute pic btw). My hunger patterns are very well suited to the 3 meals plus 2 snacks pattern. Although sometimes I don’t get hungry for snacks if I’ve enjoyed a bigger meal. What I’m not as good as is recognizing signs that I’m full. 😉

  11. Hallie says:

    This was SO great. I think my hunger cues have gotten really messed up in the past few years of me reading every diet and fitness article and trying to get it “right.” Where you said, “Even if you are eating enough, having any limitations in place can affect how you perceive your hunger” really put it into perspective. Something else I’m working on is the idea that “hunger is not an emergency.” Yes, I get cranky (like woah) and a little sleepy when I’m hungry, but it’s OK to wait a little bit if I have to because I’m out or in a meeting or whatever. Food always tastes better when you’re hungry anyway and I want the food I eat to taste GOOD 🙂 I am loving this IE series you’re doing (and I didn’t even like the IE book)

  12. lisaou11 says:

    love your posts about IE! Im really working on it now and it’s getting much easier!

    “Even if you are eating enough, having any limitations in place can affect how you perceive your hunger. ”

    This is so true. For the past year or so, Ive been eating enough but still binging bc of limitations and “dieting” going on in my head. It was terrible.

    I think eating right when you feel that first pang of hunger is so important to help you not over eat later.

  13. Krista says:

    Hey, I love your blog! Especially posts like this one about being intuitive about your body and what it needs. I’ve been down a similar road of going from prepping for a competition (which I didn’t do) to getting on the good foods/bad foods binging cycle. It’s a slippery slope.

    I also like the comment above about recognizing that “hunger is not an emergency”. So many diets are about eating every 2-3 hours to prevent the binge, which is good. But it helps to remember that we don’t need to always be eating or obsessed with our next meal. We can wait till we get a little hungry.

    • Tina says:

      Hey thanks for stopping by my blog! Let me know if you have one as well. And competing had me reverting to some of my old eating issues too. Fortunately, I stopped it relatively quickly this time around.

  14. Jennifer says:

    Wow thank you for all of this information. I haven’t gotten around to getting the book but I really appreciate all these tips. I know you know how much they mean to me. 🙂

  15. love this post – I am definitely far from perfect in terms of intuitive eating, but I am working on getting better at it – thanks for the advice ! =)

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