• Stephanie Dorfman, MS, RD

Getting in Touch with Hunger and Fullness Cues

As we start practicing intuitive eating, many find that they don't know what their hunger and fullness cues actually feel like - THIS IS NORMAL! Check out the three tips below and discover why these cues are so important and how to get in touch with your own.

Why are hunger and fullness cues so important?

Hunger and fullness cues are our bodies’ natural way of telling us when it needs food for energy and when it has had enough. This is an incredibly important part of intuitive eating - yet these cues are often ignored! External cues like - the time of day, food advertisements, seeing others eating, etc - may make you feel hungry (there are many different types of hunger, but more on that in a different post), but have you deeply paid attention to your own body cues? This is why tuning into these cues is so important. It is yet another step in the process of building a strong relationship with our body, mind, and food. Keep reading to learn how to really tune into these internal cues.


Tuning in Step 1: How to Tune In You and Tune Out Diet Culture

A problem that many people have when it comes to starting their intuitive eating journey is actually hearing their hunger and fullness cues and figuring out what they mean because they have basically been told to ignore them for so long. In a world that praises diet culture, it can be difficult to listen to your body compared to listening to the messages constantly thrown around about eating less. The first step in tuning into hunger and fullness cues is making the tough decision to shut those diet culture messages out and prioritize the messages your body is trying to send you.


Tuning in Step 2: Stay in Touch with your Body

Next, let’s get more in touch with our body. This means something different for everyone, but the key piece here is identifying, learning, writing down, and experimenting to discover what hunger and fullness feels like in YOUR BODY. This is a good time to use the 1-10 hunger/fullness scale (1 being extreme hunger- you would literally eat anything and 10 being overly and uncomfortably full - to the point you almost feel sick). Identifying your hunger and fullness on this scale helps you learn when you need a snack, if you ate enough for breakfast, if you need a bigger dinner, etc.


Tuning in Step 3: Dial in on Flavor and Texture

Alright, so we’re tuning in to hunger and fullness cues, but let’s also dial it in to the flavors, temperature, textures, etc. of what you’re eating. How does this food make you feel? Is this flavor/texture combo what your body needs? The absolutely amazing Tiffany Roe, MA, CMHC has a fantastic way to dial in on flavor and help you decide “What Sounds Good?” - I highly recommend checking out this blog post while you are learning to make peace with all food, reject the diet mentality, and listen to your hunger/fullness cues.


This is the Most Important Part!!!

The most important thing to remember in this process is it will take time to feel fully in touch with these cues if they have been pushed aside for a while. Your body has likely learned that those cues SHOULD be ignored so it thinks, “why send them?” Take it slow and have patience, they will come naturally with practice and persistence! Just like learning any new skill.


Honoring Hunger and Fullness when Others May Not

For most people, it’s difficult to go against the grain and do something that not many others are doing. This can definitely come into play when it comes to intuitive eating and listening to hunger and fullness cues. Use the steps above as a guide to make sure YOU ARE honoring your hunger and fullness when those around you aren’t on that journey (yet…). Other simple ideas could be:

  • Always carry some sort of snack with you to ensure that you’ll be able to honor your hunger and prevent that “hangry” feeling (yea, we’ve all been there)

  • Work on addressing any mental blockades that prevent you from eating more or less than others around you. It is okay to eat more than others if you’re still feeling hungry AND it is also okay to eat less than others if you’re feeling full. This work can be done with the help of a registered dietitian, like me!

Your body’s cues are not the same as your mom’s, your sister’s, your friend’s, or anyone else - THEY ARE SPECIFIC TO YOUR BODY AND YOUR BODY ONLY. That is why it’s so crucial to be in touch with your body’s messages and prioritize that over anything else. Say this to yourself as many times as you need - post it on a wall, on your mirror, make it the background of your phone - engrain these thoughts in your head (and knock out the diet culture ones…)

  • I am the expert of my own body

  • I know my body the best

  • I am allowed to treat my body with respect

  • I am allowed to feed my body with all foods

All in all, to wrap it up - let’s join this intuitive eating and hunger and fullness cue journey together!! Have more questions? Need some help (trust me, no one is a perfect intuitive eater!! We all, myself included, need some help) please reach out!


Looking for a way to start practicing intuitive eating? Download my free guide - 5 Ways to Unlock Your Inner Intuitive Eater - for a way to begin.



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