By Lauren Denos: 8/25/2014 (Nutrition)

There is an epidemic in our society of obesity, and while not all the cases of obesity are from over eating alone, it is still a big factor for many people. If we eat too much we are burdening our system with too many calories that it does not have an immediate use for, and therefore gets stored as fat for later use. One problem is when we let ourselves get too hungry we tend to go into an over eating binge. Keeping yourself from getting either too hungry or too full is a tool that everyone should have.

When we feel hungry sometimes it is emotional reaction and not actual hunger. By understanding how your body feels when it is hungry or full, you will learn to understand whether you are actually hungry or if you are having emotional hunger come up. When you are dealing with emotional hunger, that is the time to do another activity. Go on a walk, run, bike ride, socialize with a friend or another activity that you like. Activity in general gets your blood flowing and releases endorphins into your system, which alone can alleviate some of the emotional issues you can be facing. You may notice when having an emotional issue, taking a walk will help you calm down and get better perspective on the situation. This quiet time is the point that people usually come up with a solution for whatever was bothering them in the first place.

What does full look like? One of the issues many people have is they don’t understand what the levels of fullness are anymore. Look at it like a percentage chart, a scale of 1%-100%. Below is a chart to help you figure out where your hunger/full levels are. Do your best to keep yourself in the 40-70% range. This can take time to master but if you know what you are shooting for it makes it a lot easier.

1-10% Near collapsing
11-20% Ravenous
21-30% Hungry
31-40% I could eat something, but not very hungry
41-50% Neutral
51-60% Not hungry at all
61-70% Comfortably satisfied
71-80% Full to very full
81-90% Stuffed
91-100% Disgustingly sick

Do you have days that you get to the ravenous stage and then want to scarf tons of food down or eat something not as optimal for yourself? Have some snacks on hand so you can go ahead and let yourself scarf down a couple of bites of something while you prepare a meal. What that does is give you the instant fuel you body needs and gives you the satisfaction of the instant food, but helps keep it in check because you know you have an awesome meal on the way and you want to be able to savor it.

Another great way to know if you are actually hungry verses bored or emotionally hungry is with what you want to eat. If what you are desiring chocolate, nacho's, a loaf of bread and butter but chicken and veggies do not sound good, chances are you are not really hungry. On the other hand if vegetables, lean meat or something healthy sounds good then you are probably getting actual hunger signals.

What levels of hunger do you tend to hover at more than others? If you are on the hungry side more, then perhaps you need to be eating more frequent meals. If you are on the really full side more often, then maybe you need to split up your portions and save some for later. Start thinking of this when you are reaching for food and see where you are. It will take some time to really learn to use this, but it is a good tool to master.



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