Clean Eating,  Weight

Hunger and Fullness Cues – Learn to Recognize Your Hunger

Hunger and Fullness CuesHunger and Fullness Cues

Binge/Restriction Cycle

It’s tough to restrict your food intake and stay on a diet. Last week we discussed this. When you diet, you ultimately get to the point where you just can’t take it anymore and give in to the cravings for the foods you’ve been trying to eliminate. The odds are you will binge on them, get angry with yourself and just give up until the next diet comes along. It’s important to understand the concept of hunger and fullness cues.

Until you understand what the nutrition is your body needs, your cravings will continue. To complicate things, most of the food we can readily buy today is laced with sugar and bad fats. The sugar is definitely addictive. Add addiction cravings to the food restriction picture, and how can anyone expect to stay on a diet. “Diet” is a four letter word!

Learn to Recognize Your Hunger

In order to manage weight and health, your goal is to eat when you feel hungry and to eat foods that are not empty calories, loaded with salt, sugar, highly processed carbs and bad fat. The real key here, the magic if you will, is to give your body the nutrition it is craving and has not been getting if you’re eating processed foods. This is the very simple reason you keep eating. Your body is trying to save you by cueing you to eat in the hope you might reach for something nutritious instead of a pop tart, chips or a cookie. There are other reasons as well, but this one is a biggie!

There are other things that cue us to eat like boredom, stress, depression and so on. Emotional eating without awareness of what we’re doing can get us into quite a bit of trouble with our weight and with our health.

Respect Your Fullness

This is where I’d like to share with you the Blue Zones. These are five areas in different parts of the world…there’s one here in the U.S. in Loma Linda, California. In the Blue Zones, people live to be easily more than one hundred years old. They are not warehoused either! They are active and engaged. Some of them still work.

The reason I bring them up is that they practice what the group in Okinawa, Japan calls Hara Hachi Bu. This is the consistent practice of eating until they are 80% full and then stopping.

One of the reasons this is a smart practice is that it takes fifteen to twenty minutes for your brain to get the message from your stomach that, “We’re full…it’s ok to stop eating.”

Try it. Even if you’re still comfortable eating, try stopping before you feel full. Wait fifteen minutes, and see if you’re still hungry. If you are, go ahead and eat a bit more, but I think you’ll be surprised at how spot on this is!

Respect Your Fullness. You can go from being ravenously hungry to so full you feel ill. Your goal should be to maintain an average level of satiation, where you aren’t super full or super stuffed…and by the way, it’s ok to feel a bit hungry. If you can get used to that feeling and appreciate it, it will help you in a big way.

Discover the Satisfaction Factor – Focus on Your Food

This is all about your satisfaction factor, and while it seems simple, it is actually very important. What happens with people when they spend a lot of time dieting is not only do they experience a lack of proper hunger and fullness signals, but they no longer get real satisfaction from their food.

Maybe you are someone who eats while distracted, so you don’t pay attention to what you’re eating, or perhaps you eat on autopilot without enjoying the tastes and sensations. Eating at your desk, while trying to finish that report, is not going to allow you to focus on your meal.

It’s important to practice focused eating. Be mindful of what (and how much) you’re putting on your plate and then in your mouth.

Simple things like chewing more slowly, putting your fork down between bites and sitting down at the table instead of in front of the TV will all help you eat more mindfully.

If you focus on mindful eating and on being in touch with your hunger and fullness cues, you will have an easier time of managing your weight.

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Cheryl A Major lives in Westford and is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant. Her TV show, Thin Strong Healthy, airs on WestfordCat and is an offshoot of her blog   Cheryl offers ongoing information, live and online courses and personal health coaching to help you feel better and be healthier.  Follow Cheryl on Twitter @CherylAMajor.  She is also a full time residential Realtor with Coldwell Banker with more than 25 years experience. 

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