Imagine a scale from -10 to +10 to rate your hunger. Negative 10 is hunger strike to almost fainting. Positive 10 is having just won Nathan’s Hotdog Eating Contest.

Where are you on the scale when you begin to eat?

When you stop?

Do you have any idea how hungry you are most of the time?

If you’re like a lot of us, we eat because it’s meal time. Because we’re at a restaurant. Because it’s a holiday. Because the food in front of us looks good. Because we’re stressed or want to feel better. Because we want to distract ourselves from feeling bad.

What about hunger?

I define overeating as eating more than your body needs to maintain its ideal weight. Forget calories and macros. The next time you start to eat, ask yourself where you are on the hunger scale.

I’m told some Japanese maintain their trim size by consciously stopping at 70% full.

A lot of my clients lose significant weight when they stay between -2 to +2 on the hunger scale, what I call eating 2 to 2.

I suggest you play around with your hunger. Become accustomed to what it feels like in your body to be hungry. Quantify that physical hunger. Awareness is key. Once you start to notice it, you’ll learn hunger is not an emergency.

True physical hunger comes and goes. Have you ever noticed on a particularly busy day when you don’t find time to eat, hunger wanes between a little bit to not much and back again?

I’m not saying you should eat every time you are a little hungry. If you incorporate intermittent fasting (see later blog post), you’ll likely find yourself between -4 and +4.

For now, just notice your hunger and where you are on the scale. If you find you’re not hungry, you may decide to decline whatever is offered, or save it for later. Full during a meal? Maybe you’ll not clear your plate or go for seconds.

Put yourself on the hunger scale–you’ll be one tool closer to not overeating and reaching your right size.

—Julie Ernst, Esq., Certified Weight Loss Coach

P.S. Visit www.julieernst.com to take my free course: Weight Loss for Attorneys.