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How to Use the Hunger Fullness Scale in Intuitive Eating — Registered Dietitian Columbia SC

One of the lies diet culture sells is the idea that left to your own devices, you wouldn’t be able to manage eating. Without calories, points, macros, or a list of good and bad foods to keep things in check, you would just gorge yourself silly. Diet culture teaches you not to trust yourself, that you need their external rules to keep under control.

Of course, because the goal of diet culture is weight loss (usually as quickly as possible), not nourishing your body adequately, it prescribes an amount of food that is unsustainable at best, deadly at worst. Unless following the rules and prescriptions about how to eat leads to full blown anorexia (which is, needless to say, not great!), you’ll eventually break down and backlash to those rules. When you do, it’ll feel pretty out of control. That icky feeling only reinforces the need for diet rules, despite the fact that it is a totally predictable response to restriction – not a lack of willpower or you being addicted to food.

Intuitive eating teaches that you have everything you need to manage eating on your own*, we just have to build the interoceptive awareness and body trust to be able to tune in and honor those cues. And sure, there may be some situations where external advice is helpful, as human beings our species has survived for 300,000 years, the vast majority without diets, so we’re pretty good at navigating food.

One of the ways we do that is through our body’s hunger and fullness cues. Intuitive eating helps you get back in touch with those cues, often using a tool called the hunger and fullness scale. This blog post will discuss how hunger and fullness cues can help guide eating, and how to use the hunger and fullness scale in intuitive eating.

*Some people with sensory processing differences, trauma/dissociation, an eating disorder, or other medical conditions might experience significant barriers to feeling their hunger and fullness cues, especially in the traditional “stomach cues” kind of way. In these situations, having a bit of structure (like a meal plan or flexible eating schedule) can be really helpful. While the hunger and fullness scale can be adapted, I’m just briefly touching on that here, as that is a bit beyond the scope of this post. To learn more, Kevin Does ARFID, Lauren Sharifi, and RDs for Neurodiversity offer some great resources! All that to say, if the hunger and fullness scale doesn’t connect or feel helpful for you, that’s OK!

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