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The Hunger Scale

Do you ever get so hungry that you no longer feel hungry? Or feel so full that all you want to do is lie down and take a nap? Then beware. These are sensations at either end of the Hunger Scale and they signal a need for caution.

Do you ever get so hungry that you no longer feel hungry? Or feel so full that all you want to do is lie down and take a nap? Then beware.

These are sensations at either end of the Hunger Scale and they signal a need for caution.

The Hunger Scale is simply a notional way to describe your level of hunger and assess your need for food. People on a healthy diet not only know when to eat, they also know when to stop. In practically every case they are using the Hunger Scale, whether knowingly or not.

The trick to using the Hunger Scale is to pay careful attention to your body and what it is telling you.

If you are losing concentration and starting to feel irritable during your working day, for example, it's probable that you are already past the time when you should have eaten.

Once you start to feel shaky, or develop a headache, there's a very good chance that you will overeat in an attempt to put matters right.

If you have eaten and are feeling uncomfortable or sleepy, you have already eaten too much. You need to find a balance and that comes in the middle range of the Hunger Scale.

What does that mean exactly?

It means that the time to eat is when you first feel hungry. This may seem obvious but there are many times when we tend to eat simply because it is that time of day. Or, what's worse, because there is food available.

Resist temptation.

The idea is to eat when you are physically feeling hungry and stop when you are satisfied and still feeling comfortable. Your body will tell you when you have reached this stage. The problem is many of us ignore the signals and continue eating more than we need.

However the key to good eating habits is to stop the moment your stomach tells you it is full and don't touch a mouthful more, even if that means leaving food on your plate. If you have children, don't insist that they 'clean the plate' and don't encourage them to leave the 'best till last'. This in itself leads to overeating.

The importance of eating sensibly and well cannot be over-emphasised. Eating more than you need not only hampers your life-style, it can also lead to weight problems, heart and circulatory diseases and even conditions such as diabetes.

Remember, all that excess food has to go somewhere. If it is not burnt as energy it will be stored as fat. You can assist your body to take care of itself just by knowing where you are on the Hunger Scale and eating in accordance with that knowledge.

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