November 29, 2010
These days, most of us don’t know when we’re hungry and when we’re full. We lose this ability by the time we reach kindergarten. And it’s making us fat.
I have a solution: Dr. Mike’s Hunger/Fullness Meter. The Fullness Meter is kind of like the “pain scale” doctors ask you about when you are in the hospital. Basically, you rate your hunger and fullness on a scale. This is not a new idea; there are lots of hunger scales out there. But the problem with most is that they want you to rate your hunger on a scale of 0 to 10. That’s too complicated. What is the difference between a 0 or a 1, or a 9 or a 10, anyway? You’d spend so much time trying to figure out your rating that you won’t have time to eat.
I say it’s simpler to use a hunger rating from 1 to 2 and a fullness rating from 3 to 4. Here’s how mine works.
1. I’m little hungry; my stomach feels as hollow as the promises of a politician.
Eat now to prevent yourself from progressing to 2. Other leading indicators of mild hunger are slight stomach growling, mild headache, shakiness and loss of concentration. If you aren’t sure whether you’re actually hungry, you’re probably not. You may be confusing true hunger with boredom, fatigue or thirst.
2. I’m so hungry I could eat the lining of an empty Spam can.
My stomach is growling so loud it scared off a junkyard dog. I’ve got to have something to eat, and fast. Don’t let yourself get here. You’ll be eating a package of Twinkies and guzzling Coke like crazy.
3. I’m starting to feel full. I will stop now so that I can save on my grocery bill.
You have entered that pleasant zone where you are no longer hungry but not quite full either. Feel honorable about leaving a little room in your stomach. Try to keep yourself here at meals ” never starving, never stuffed.
4. I’m so stuffed I’ll have to waddle over to the couch to collapse.
You have eaten too much, even if it’s all on your diet. Avoid this extreme; practice more restraint. Don’t feel obligated to clean your plate, either. Stop eating as soon as your stomach feels full. Those extra bites of food that you’re trying not to waste add unneeded calories.
As you go through your day and manage your mealtimes, ask yourself how hungry or full you are, based on my Hunger/Fullness Meter. Your goal is to listen to your body, and let go of external cues such as the clock to tell you when, and how much, to eat.
Dr. Mike Moreno is a physician and creator of The 17 Day Diet. Click here to purchase your copy!