Do you ever feel like counting and numbers are taking over your life and your mind? Are you constantly counting pounds on the scale? Weighing and measuring your food? Do you know the number of calories in every food and the grams of carbs in everything that you put in your mouth? Is this obsession driving you crazy?
Many of my clients come in feeling as though they’d love to stop counting calories, but they don’t know how, they feel as though if they did, they’d totally lose control. Counting calories helps give them a sense of control and satisfaction.
Usually, when I begin people on the road to intuitive eating and mindful eating, I help them wean off of calorie counting by using numbers to help them assess their appetites. It’s actually a lot more challenging than calorie counting, but ultimately more useful. It increases mindfulness and helps you to actually get in touch with the needs of your body.
How to do it:
1. Learn the hunger and satiety scale.
|0||Starvation mode. Void of feelings. No energy, tired, empty.|
|1||Ravenous. Feeling uncomfortably hungry. Dizzy, grumpy.|
|2||Very Hungry, unable to focus on work or conversation.|
|3||Hungry. Stomach is beginning to growl, you are beginning to lose focus.|
|4||Getting Hungry. First thoughts of food begin.|
|5||Neutral. Not hungry, not full. Not obsessing about food. Nurtured, productive, able to focus. If you are eating, you can still eat more.|
|6||Satisfied. You’ve eaten enough to be content. You are not uncomfortable, yet you do not need more.|
|7||Slightly Full. A bit more than satisfied. You might feel like you had a bit too much.|
|8||Very Full. You begin to feel bloated as though you’ve had too much.|
|9||Uncomfortably full. You just want to go to sleep. You might feel depressed or regretful.|
|10||Completely Stuffed. You feel like you might throw up. You are in pain, you can’t focus, and you don’t know how you got here.|
2. Decide to learn to not let yourself drop below a 3 and not go above a 7.
3. Check in with yourself throughout the day. When you find yourself at a 4, it’s time to think about getting a meal.
4. Before each meal, note or write down where you are on the hunger and satiety scale.
5. Eat your food slowly and mindfully and stop right in the middle. When you stop, note or write down where you are. If you are at a 5, you know that you can eat a bit more. Stop again and if you are at a 6 or a 7, stop eating.
It’s that simple. But it’s not simple really because you are using the wisdom of your body to tell you how much or how little you should be eating rather than an arbitrary number that doesn’t necessarily relate to what your body needs. Keeping track of the numbers on the hunger and satiety scale will help you to feel as though you are in control in a way that calorie counting did only it’s also a way to increase mindfulness. After a while, you will be able to stop using the numbers because you will intuitively know when to eat and when to stop eating.
Start by trying it for one meal a day. You can also check in with yourself every 1-2 hours and ask yourself where you are on the hunger and satiety scale.
Interested in doing a seven day experiment? Try it and link to this blog post, I’d love to see how it goes for people!