How to Use a Hunger Scale

How to Use a Hunger Scale

Often as children we are taught to “eat till your plate is clean”, but then when we are adults the message around food can change. Individuals who want to lose weight are afraid to “clean their plate” and complain of feeling hungry throughout the day. This can often lead to overeating or a negative relationship with food. The message gets confused for when we are and aren’t hungry.

Being human, it’s okay to eat when you aren’t hungry. Some people have a harder time on gauging their hunger when they are stressed or dealing with other life events.

When you have diabetes, there is additional concerns with the amount you eat, meal timing, and diabetes medication regimen you are following. You might not be hungry but told to eat your meals or snacks around the same time every day. Unsurprisingly, it can be very difficult for some people to be able to distinguish actual, physical hunger. Stress and not eating enough or overeating at times can also make it very difficult for people to touch in with their hunger cues.

Let’s relearn how to check in with your hunger level! Check out the hunger scale below and read some pointers on how you could use it at your next meal or snack.

The Hunger Scale


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Ravenous Hungry Comfortable Full


  • On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being “ravenous or extremely hungry” and 10 being “overly stuffed”, rank your hunger right before you start to eat.
    • Some people like to keep a journal where they will write down how they are feeling and their hunger level before they start a meal and then reevaluate during and after the meal.
    • Halfway through your meal, rank your hunger again using the same scale of 1 to 10. If you’re at a “5”, “6” or “7” then clean up the meal and step away. This journal exercise helps you create awareness around your meals as it relates to your hunger and emotional well being.
  • Don’t deprive yourself. Many times, people who try and lose weight to completely cut out all their favorite foods, but then end up bingeing on them later. Allow yourself to have a treat on occasion.

If you feel like you are eating or bingeing from stress, anxiety, eating disorder or depression, we recommend for you to talk with a mental health professional and dietitian.

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