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    October 17, 2021

    Use the Hunger Scale To Help Curb Holiday Overeating

    From Thanksgiving dinner in November through New Year’s Day in January, the holiday season can be a difficult time for individuals who are trying to manage their weight and eat healthfully. While we spend more time shopping, entertaining and going to parties, one of things that almost always suffers is the quality – and quantity -- of our meal choices. It’s easy to grab fatty fast food, overeat at a party or just graze on low nutrient snacks until there’s time to eat a real meal.

    Learning how to use the Hunger Scale can help arm you with an important tool in the fight to prevent or curb holiday weight gain.

    What is the Hunger Scale? The Hunger Scale is an imaginary scale that can help pinpoint your level of hunger or satiety and assess your need for food. People who eat healthfully not only know when to eat, they also know when to stop. Whether they know it or not, they are in tune to their body’s signals and are using the Hunger Scale.

     Do you ever get so hungry that you no longer feel hungry? Or feel so full that all you want to do is lie down and take a nap? Then beware. These are the extremes at either end of the Hunger Scale and they signal a need for caution. 


    Terms to Become Familiar With 

    Appetite: An instinctive, physical desire to eat that can be stimulated by outside influences. 

    Hunger: A physiological response whereby the body alerts the brain that nourishment is needed. 

    Satiety: The feeling of fullness at the end of a meal; the feeling that you are no longer hungry. 


     The key to using the Hunger Scale is to pay careful attention to your body and what it is telling you. If you are losing concentration and starting to feel irritable during your working day, it's probable that you are already past the time when you should have eaten. Once you start to feel shaky, or develop a headache, there's a very good chance that you will overeat in an attempt to put matters right.


    How to Use the Hunger Scale

    The hunger scale will help you avoid eating mindlessly; keeping your body in tune with when to snack or eat a meal. The more in touch you are with your hunger, the less you need to count calories. Keep in mind, snacking on healthful foods throughout the day will ward off hunger, balancing extreme feelings of hunger throughout the day. 

    First, assess how you're feeling: 

    10: Stuffed. You feel Thanksgiving full. 

    9: Very uncomfortably full. You need to loosen your clothes. 

    8: Uncomfortably full. You feel bloated. 

    7: Full. A little bit uncomfortable. 

    6: Perfectly comfortable. You feel satisfied. 

    5: Comfortable. You're more or less satisfied but could eat a little more. 

    4: Slightly uncomfortable. You're just beginning to feel signs of hunger. Time to snack or eat a meal. 

    3: Uncomfortably hungry. Your stomach is rumbling. Time to snack or eat a meal. 

    2: Very uncomfortable. You feel irritable and unable to concentrate. Time to snack! 

    1: Weak and light-headed. Your stomach acid is churning. Time to snack! 


    If you're feeling 1, 2, 3 or 4 - Eat a meal or a snack. 

    Meal or Snack? Here’s what it depends on: 

    If it’s going to be at least 30 minutes or more until a meal - Choose a sensible snack to hold you over. 


    If you’re eating a meal, put your fork down at 5 or 6 and tell yourself, “I’ve had enough.” 

    Wait until the next scheduled meal or snack. 

    If you’re trying to lose weight, stop at 5, the point at which you’re eating a little less than your body is burning.


    Sensible Snacks

    • Handful of nuts (no more than 1 ounce) like peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, soy nuts 
    • 10-12 baby carrots with yogurt-ranch dip 
    • Low fat mozzarella stick with 4 whole grain crackers 
    • Mini whole wheat pita bread with hummus 
    • Fresh fruit 
    • Small carton of soy milk, low-fat or skim milk 
    • Whole wheat pretzels and hummus 
    • Dried fruit and nut mix or packaged trail mix (limit 1 ounce or ¾ cup) 
    • Cup of bean soup 
    • Low fat yogurt 
    • Sushi roll 
    • Slice of whole grain bread with peanut butter and jelly 


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