Diet Recovery: Learn How to Honor Your Hunger with Intuitive Eating

No guilt or shame allowed in the 2nd principle of intuitive eating, honor your hunger. Learn about the hunger discovery scale, types of hunger, and biological signs of hunger

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That meme is one of my favorites because it describes me in a nutshell. Maybe you too?

I’ve always been a food lover. Never a picky eater and always down to eat. I thought obsessing about food was just part of me. But, when I started to examine my past, which included dieting, the reason why food and eating had become an actual hobby of mine was because I was restricting myself.

Let me explain. When someone tells you, “Don’t eat X,Y, or Z!” , your mind will gravitate towards that exact thing, either from a place of curiosity or rebellion.

Fantasizing about ice cream and enchiladas wasn’t weird to me at the time. But, because I made those foods off limits (i.e. restriction), food obsession became a normal thing.


Restricting what I ate also wrecked havoc on my hunger. Instead of eating to a satisfying point, I would binge when indulging in a “cheat meal.” Because of dieting, I was no longer in tune with my hunger. Instead I learned how to tune it out.

Experiencing hunger should not be a shameful thing.

A grumbling stomach is one way your body is communicating that it needs food, just as a feeling of fullness is telling you to slow down.

When you ignore your body’s hunger cues you’re not only depriving yourself of nourishment it needs to function at its best, but you’re likely to experience a lack of energy, headache, or irritability.1

The second principle of intuitive eating, honor your hunger, is all about getting in tune with your body and recognizing when you’re hungry or full.

If you’ve dieted in the past, learning this principle may take a little more work. Because diets are all about restricting what and when you eat, you’ve probably learned to ignore your body’s true hunger or fill it with air food (i.e. sugar free jello or popcorn).

I’m going to walk you through the signs of hunger, the hunger discovery scale, and types of hunger so you can begin to honor your hunger and EAT!


Signs of Hunger1

  • Mild gurgling or gnawing in the stomach
  • Growling noises
  • Headache
  • Light-headedness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Uncomfortable stomach pain
  • Irritability
  • Feeling faint

Hunger Discovery Scale1

(use this scale to identify your initial hunger when you start to eat)

0-1= Empty

2= Ravenous (when you reach a point of #2 or below you’re now over hungry and at a risk for overeating)

3= Set (ideal level to begin eating)

4= Pangs

5= Neutral (#5 or above indicate that you are not biologically hungry)

6-7= Satisfied

8= Full

9= Stuffed

10= Sick

Types of Hunger1

Taste hunger: eating because it sounds good or the occasion calls for it (i.e. events, cultural celebrations)

Practical hunger: when you’re busy or unable to eat a complete meal you have a light snack to hold you over before the event (i.e. planning ahead)

Emotional hunger: you eat to reduce uncomfortable feelings like boredom, anxiety, sadness, or loneliness


Now that you have an understanding of what honoring your hunger is, keep all of this in mind…

  • It is okay and normal to experience taste hunger.
  • Experiencing shame when eating, depriving yourself of food, and overeating food are behaviors associated with dieting. Remember to be patient with yourself if you experience any of that.
  • Intuitive eating is a process that takes time! It doesn’t happen overnight. Just like anything else, with more practice the better you’ll get.

When you commit to an intuitive way of eating (by honoring your hunger) you will become more in tune with your body. When this happens you will build confidence and trust when it comes to eating.

Good-bye to the days of overeating, under eating, or eating for emotional reasons.1 Instead, you’ll begin to eat for nourishment and satisfaction.

If you’re wondering what foods are going to give your body sustained energy and nourishment, keep an eye out for a blog post in the upcoming weeks. I’ll be discussing gentle nutrition, which is all about food and exercise.


  1. Tribole E, Resch E. Intuitive Eating: A revolutionary program that works. New York: St. Martin’s Griffin; 2012.



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