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Chart Your Hunger

  • Eating

Although it goes against my non-diet sensibilities to keep a journal in which you write down everything you eat (unless it’s for a specific purpose and time-limited), maintaining a hunger log can help you recognize patterns of food focus and eating in relation to hunger. In this log, you write down every time you’re hungry or think you are—when food is on your mind—by charting the day/time your thoughts turn to food, your hunger level (0=not hungry…10=famished), the setting, and the activity you’re doing.
Your log might go something like this:
6:15 a.m., hunger at a 9, at home, getting ready for work
10:30 a.m., hunger at a 2, at work, in a boring meeting
10:52 a.m., hunger at a 2, at work, still in a boring meeting
1:36 p.m., hunger at a 7, at work, time for lunch at desk
3:26 p.m., hunger at a 1, in my office, about to start employee evaluations
4:12 p.m., hunger at a 3, in my office, doing employee evaluations
6:35 p.m., hunger at a 7, in my office, still doing employee evaluations
7: 39 p.m., hunger at a 10, in car, driving to Burger King
9:51 p.m., hunger at a 3, at home, watching CSI reruns
10:12 p.m., hunger at a 3, at home, watching CSI reruns
From this eater’s log, you might notice that whenever this she’s bored or faced with a tedious or challenging task, she thinks about food and also doesn’t eat when she’s moderately hungry but waits until starvation sets in. Your log might show that you: have a daily non-hungry nosh in the car while you’re waiting for your kids to get out of school, focus on food when you don’t want to go to sleep, push away hunger til you’re starving, frequently think you’re hungry when you’re bored and restless, find food more difficult for you at home than at work (or the opposite), obsess about food nearly constantly, rarely wait to eat til you’re hungry, or that you don’t experience hunger very often.
You can use the information and patterns from your log to eat more appropriately and pleasurably in response to hunger. When possible, wait until you’re moderately hungry to eat. Stay in touch with your feelings, especially how you might focus on food when you’re bored, want to avoid a task, or when transitioning from one activity to another. By noting your patterns and habits, you can learn to respond to them differently and alter the course of your eating to make it more intuitive and satisfying. Keep in mind that feeding all your hungers will keep you in balance and help you eat more “normally.”