Did you know? Sööma has a YouTube channel and has prepared several videos to help you understand and explore various concepts related to food and eating disorders.
One of these videos explores the Hunger portion of the Hunger/Fullness card, to help you understand what the different thoughts, sensations and signs are at different levels of hunger. Keep on reading to get a sense of what’s covered in the video.
0:21 – Introduction to the Hunger Levels
We will discuss the Hunger/Fullness card and the different levels of hunger and how we can either describe and check in for ourselves or how we can use this with clients and professionals practicing in eating disorders and disordered eating.
0:38 – Exploring Level 5, Neutral
We’ll start by exploring what Neutral means, which is between being hungry or being full. This is the space you’re in as you’re eating and transitioning towards fullness or as you’re digesting and transitioning towards hunger.
0:51 – Exploring Level 4, Slight Hunger
When we take a look at the Level 4 of the Hunger/Fullness card, Slight Hunger, there is a sense of space in the stomach. The way we typically describe this, is that after a meal, when we’ve eaten to true fullness, if someone talked to us about food, the thought of food doesn’t sound good at all. So if your friend asked you after a dinner to go out for ice cream, if you’re feeling truly full, the thought of ice cream does not sound interesting. If your friend checks in perhaps an hour after the meal, and tells you “Would you like to go for ice cream, maybe in an hour or so?”, your mind can consider that “Hmm, maybe ice cream in a short period of time could sound interesting, but right now, I wouldn’t want it.” That is a sense of space in the stomach. The stomach still has food in it, it’s not necessarily distended, but the thought of food in the immediate time does not sound interesting.
1:51 – Exploring Level 3, Hunger
Now let’s take a look at Hunger, Level 3. Hunger is actually something that is not necessarily physical, it is actually mental. This can be very difficult for those who have chronic dieting histories or who live with eating disorders, because they can’t necessarily trust their thoughts of food. When someone is hungry and we go back to the ice cream example, if a friend came up to you and was like “Hey, do you want to go for ice cream right now?”, if you checked in physically, your stomach would no longer be distended, it wouldn’t necessarily be empty or cramping or growling, it would just be normal or at rest, meaning there would be space in it for food. If you thought of eating ice cream, the thought of food actually sounds good in the immediate, in the right now.
2:44 – Exploring Level 2, Strong Hunger
Now if we go to a Level 2, Strong Hunger, that’s actually when you start feeling a sense of emptiness in your stomach, cramping in your stomach and the thought of food starts interfering with your concentration. So, let’s say you work in an office and you’re doing a project that you want to finish before lunchtime, but you’re thinking “I can wait to be done and just eat my lunch!” and your stomach is starting to growl and is starting to cramp, that is Strong Hunger.
3:15 – Exploring Level 1, Extreme Hunger
Then we go to a Level 1, which is Extreme Hunger. This is what we would describe as “Hangry”, meaning your hunger interferes with your ability to do most tasks, it’s actually impacting your mood and the need for food is fairly urgent. A lot of people that we work with actually describe hunger in this way, and that’s typically when it feels safe to respond. This is actually Extreme Hunger.
3:45 – Exploring Level 0, Empty
And then if we go to a Level 0, Empty, this is when the body has been sending signals that it needs food and all of a sudden, it just stops knocking on the door. The body is like “OK, obviously there’s no food in the environment, no one will respond”. So, you actually stop feeling physical sensations, so the cramping and the growling disappear and you feel a sense of nausea and a strong sense of fatigue coming over your body. Typically the thought of food doesn’t actually sound interesting. This makes it hard to know what you truly want to eat.
4:19 – Conclusion
Now that we’ve covered the Hunger portion of the Hunger/Fullness card, make sure to stay tuned and check out our blog post on the Fullness portion to see how you can apply this across the spectrum to get in touch with what your body is telling you.
For those living with an eating disorder or with a history of chronic dieting, it can be really difficult to navigate, understand and become in touch with hunger cues. It takes time, practice and intention to rebuild trust in the body, its signals and the meaning of those signals. If you’re not sure where to start or you’re looking for some support in exploring your relationship with food, please reach out to our team to see how we can help. You can contact us at (514) 437-4260 or e-mail us at email@example.com.
By: Jess Francis and Annyck Besso, Registered Dietitians
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