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Video: The Hunger Scale

Distinguishing between the sensation of hunger and the emotion of hunger is very important because so many of us are eating not when we're physically hungry, but when we are emotionally hungry.

Join in as Brooke Castillo from The Life Coach School introduces the hunger scale and why she has found it to be very effective when working with clients.

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Episode Transcript:

Hi. It's Brooke Castillo from The Life Coach School. Today I'm going to talk to you about the hunger scale.

This is the secret barometer of your weight loss. I know that for some of you, maybe some of you have been exposed to hunger scales before, maybe you've even tried some of them. I want to introduce my hunger scale to you because it's a little bit different than the other hunger scales out there and we have found it to be very effective when working with clients.

The first thing that you have to remember when it comes to a hunger scale is the difference between a sensation and an emotion. Let me explain. A sensation is an experience in your body that starts in your body and travels to your brain, something like cold or pain or thirst or hunger. If someone were to slap my hand, I would have the sensation of pain in my hand and it would travel to my brain and say “yo, someone is hitting your hand.” Or if I sat on something sharp it would travel to my brain and say “hey, you're sitting on something sharp.”

The same is true with the sensation of hunger. It starts in our body and travels to our brain to let us know that we're hungry. We've been depleted of fuel and now the brain needs to know hey, find something to eat. Any other sensation like feeling physically tired, feeling physically sick, starts in the body, travels to the brain.

Contrast the sensation with an emotion. An emotion starts in the brain and travels to the body. The way that we define emotion at The Life Coach School is a vibration in the body caused by a sentence in the brain. It's really important to remember the difference and know the difference, because the sensation of hunger is going to be very different than the emotion of hunger. Distinguishing between the sensation of hunger and the emotion of hunger is very important because so many of us are eating not when we're physically hungry, but when we are emotionally hungry. When we're feeling any emotion besides hunger we're like “oh, I must eat.”

The first step before you can even start utilizing the hunger scale is to really understand that difference. When I ask you “are you hungry right now?” I want you to see where you go to find the answer. If you're anything like most of my clients, you'll probably go to your brain. “When was the last time I ate? What did I eat? Is it lunchtime?” Those are not the places that you want to go to find out if you're hungry. The place where you want to go to find out if you're hungry is your body. You need to go to your body and see if you're having any sensations of hunger. If you aren't having any sensations of hunger, it means you're not hungry. If hunger isn't the problem, then food is not the solution.

Remember, any other emotion that you're having that is driving you to eat has nothing to do with your physical requirement for food. Once you've tapped into the difference between the sensation and the emotion of hunger, then you can start utilizing the hunger scale. The way that we set up the hunger scale is from negative ten to zero to positive ten. Positive ten is you're so stuffed you can barely move.

Think about maybe some Thanksgiving dinners you've had, two helpings of pie and then maybe a turkey sandwich after that later in the day. You may be so stuffed you can barely move. For some of us that are emotional eaters, we've had binges that have left us feeling completely nauseous because we've had so much to eat. That's positive ten on the hunger scale.

Zero is neutral. You're not hungry and you're not full. You're just kind of right in the middle. Negative ten how you feel after you haven't eaten for a week. I know for some of you, you know how that feels if you’ve gone on any of these crazy fasts like I have gone on trying to lose weight. You know what it's like to be starving and wanting to faint.

Those are the extremes on the hunger scale. We like to teach you to eat negative two on the hunger scale to positive two. That's when you're just getting that whisper of hunger and you're stopping as soon as you're sated. You're feeling sated, but you're still feeling light and like you could go and do something active.

When we eat what we call two to two, you'll be eating a lot more often. This is okay, and especially in the beginning with your clients and with yourself you want to be practicing getting hungry, eating a little bit, getting hungry, eating a little bit. Most of us have to reprogram our brains and our bodies to remember “oh, this is what hunger feels like and this is what it feels like to be sated”. You don't want to get too far down on that hunger scale. You don’t want to go negative five, six, seven because that's when you'll be willing to eat what I call gas station food. You'll be willing to eat anything that's quick, full of calories, and will zap that hunger.

A lot of us get panicked when we get too hungry, so try to make sure that you eat before you get too hungry because you'll eat food that you normally wouldn't eat, that normally wouldn't taste good. A bag of Doritos when you're starving is very different than eating a bag of Doritos when you're not very hungry, right?

The other thing that will happen is if you allow yourself to get too hungry before you start eating, then you will end up probably eating too much on the other end of the scale. When we're too hungry we eat faster, we don't pay as close attention, and typically we end up eating more than our body requires for fuel.

Eating between the twos requires you eat more often and less food, which is exactly the process that will get you more intimate with your body, get you more connected to your hunger signals. That's why it's so important for you to understand the difference between a sensation and an emotion. Once you have that difference, then you can tap into utilizing that hunger scale and really starting to eat when you're hungry, stop before you're too full, and repeat that over and over and over and reprogram your body to really connect in to its hunger signals and to only eat enough that it requires for fuel.

Once you do that, once you reprogram your body, then you will need to learn what to do all the rest of the time when all of those other emotions come up that food will not solve, and we'll talk about that in the next video.

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