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Eat Mindfully Using the Hunger Scale and PAUSE

Woman eating mindfully with hunger scale and pause

Use the following Hunger Scale and tips as a guide to mindful eating

Ravenous 01 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 Stuffed

0 Starving to the point of feeling sick

1 Ravenous and feeling dizzy and weak

2 Really hungry, irritable, and distracted

3 Hungry with a grumbling stomach

4 Getting hungry and thinking of food

5 Comfortable. Not hungry

6 Satisfied

7 Full and slightly uncomfortable

8 Overfull and feeling a little bloated

9 Stuffed and very uncomfortable

10 Sick and miserable, extremely uncomfortable

  • Eat at gentle pangs between stages 2 and 3.
  • Eat slowly, assess mid-way through meal or snack, stopping when satisfied between 5 and 6.
  • Be non-judgmental, observe with curiosity
  • The hunger scale helps you make a conscious choice about when and how much to eat and is a cue to explore reasons you may be turning to food when you are not physically hungry.
  • This is just a guideline, not a strict rule. The idea is to just start making a more conscious choice, to become aware of the portions it takes to satisfy you, to become aware of how you feel and eventually to have the desire to follow your hunger/fullness cues to feel better.

PAUSE when you have the urge to eat and sense it may not be from hunger.

P: Pause between the urge to eat and actually eating. Take a few mindful breaths.

A: Assess your hunger: Am I hungry or not?

U: Understand, with self-kindness, what’s triggering you to want food if you’re not actually hungry (e.g. thoughts, feelings, unmet needs and emotions such as loneliness, anger and boredom).

S: Sit with the feeling. It will dissipate with time. Satisfy the true need and plan for known triggers.

E: Evaluate what works.


Savor your food

  • Sit at a table without distractions. Give yourself time to enjoy your meal or snack.
  • Use all of your sense – notice appearance, aromas, textures and flavors.
  • Take one small bite at a time and chew slowly and completely before swallowing.
  • Think about what/who was involved in getting the food to your plate.

References: AceFitness, Heart.org, HelpGuide.org