Check Your Hunger-Fullness Scale and Become a Mindful Eater

Mindful Eating Graphic.jpgDo you pay attention the cues your body sends you about hunger and fullness? Check out these tips about being a more mindful eater, and you may find you can skip dieting all together. 

Congratulations! You made it through the holiday season. As we are starting into the New Year, most of us have hit the reset button and have wellness on our minds. One of the things I hear most from people is how they need to cleanse from the holidays, so their answer is to go on a diet. A lot of those diets promise results of rapid weight loss by either removing or limiting certain foods, only eating certain food combinations, following a strict food intake pattern or taking a supplement. The bottom line is simple: if a diet or product sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Instead of a diet this year, why not try something that will stick?

Mindful eating is not a diet, but a practice that focuses on how we eat, not just what we eat. Mindful eating involves eating slower and deliberately, avoiding distractions while eating (yes, step away from your desk to eat lunch), listening to your body’s hunger and fullness cues, eating food that tastes good and is full of nutrients and being aware of your emotions.

Most of the food we eat is not directly related to hunger, but is often due to social activities, distractions or emotions such as stress, sadness or boredom. In order to start practicing mindful eating, first check in with your body. Do you notice a dull headache? Would someone use the word hangry to describe your mood? Or maybe you are on the opposite end, feeling content and ready for a nap?

Below is the hunger and fullness scale. This tool is something you can start using today, without having to go out of your way. Most people recognize that they are hungry well past the first signs of hunger and then eat past the point of fullness. The time to start eating is when you are at a four, and the time to stop eating is when you are at about a five. 

hunger and fullness scale (2).jpg

Becoming a mindful eater takes time and practice. The ability to recognize your own hunger and fullness cues will help you as you become a mindful eater. For more information, check out this factsheet: Mindful Eating: Benefits, Challenges, and Strategies.

jaqueline neid avilaThis article was written by Jaqueline Neid-Avila, Utah State University Extension assistant professor. Jaqueline has lived all over the west coast, including Alaska and Hawaii, and is currently based in Salt Lake City. She graduated with a Master’s in Dietetic Administration from USU and became a Registered Dietitian. Jaqueline almost majored in engineering, however sitting in front of a computer all day crunching numbers and solving problems did not seem appealing, so she switched to food and people, which she loves. However, ironically, she still sits in front of a computer most days, crunching numbers and solving problems. Teaching people about how easily they can adapt their current routines to make them more nutritious is a passion for Jaqueline. Since she teaches people about how to make changes in their food, she often experiments. Ask anyone in her office —  they love sample days!  

Are you Being Mindful? // 5 Tips for Mindful Eating

Mindful Eating Graphic

Today’s post is from our sister blog, Eat Well Utah, all about how to eat mindfully and make better, healthier food choices. Bonus: there’s a recipe at the end for baked chicken tenders that parents and kids alike will enjoy.

Are you trying to eat healthier?  One of the best ways to stay on track is by eating mindfully.  It is not uncommon to  get caught up in the everyday stresses of life and forget to stop and live in the moment.  Mindful eating is simply being aware of what you are putting in your mouth and paying attention to how it affects your body, feelings, and mind.

This is a helpful practice for anyone who is focused on healthy eating or weight loss.  It makes you stop and think about not only what is going in your mouth, but why you are putting it there.  Are you really hungry?  Are you eating out of boredom?  Is it stress eating?  Mindful eating pulls you off autopilot and helps you be more attentive and aware of your food and drink choices.

Everyday distractions can make it difficult to stick to a mindful eating plan so it is important to set yourself up for success.  Nutrition 411 offers great tips on developing and sticking to your plan.  Here are some of my favorites:


1. Use a smaller plate.

Have you ever heard the term you eat with your eyes?  If you are hungry, you want to fill your plate with enough food to satisfy your hunger.  This can lead to overeating as you are tempted to quickly gobble up everything on your plate, missing your internal cues signaling that you are satisfied.  To prevent overeating, try using a smaller plate.  This will give you the ability to still fill up your plate, but the portion of food on your plate will be contained.

2. You eat what you see.

If you are feeling a bit hungry and you see a jar of candy on the countertop, it is likely that you will grab a piece of candy as a quick fix.  If you see a bowl of fresh fruit sitting on the counter top, it is likely you will reach for a nice, juicy apple.  Keeping healthy foods where you can see them, and tucking not-so-healthy foods away, helps you make better choices more often.  It is much easier to eat mindfully when unhealthy foods are out of sight and out of mind.

3. Serve from the stove.

Rather than bringing all the food to the table, keep it over by the stove or on the counter top.  The simple fact that you will have to get up to serve yourself another helping is likely to stop you from overindulging.  Bring fruits and veggies to the table instead.  If you are still hungry, you are more likely to refill you plate with what is right in front of you.

4. Remove distractions.

People tend to eat more when they are not paying attention to each bite that goes into their mouths.  When televisions, cell phones, and computers are holding your attention, you are more likely to miss your hunger cues.  You will overeat instead of stopping when you are satisfied.

5. Eat throughout the day.

You might feel the urge to skimp on meals early in the day so you can indulge in a larger meal in the evening.  Eating smaller meals more frequently helps keep your energy level more consistent and will help you avoid overeating when you feel like you are starving.


For more great tips on mindful eating click here and here.

What step will you take this week toward mindful eating?  Maybe you’ll start by making homemade chicken tenders instead of opting for the fast food version.

I was a bit skeptical when I first read through this recipe.  I thought for sure my kids would give it two thumbs down.  I was pleasantly surprised when they asked for seconds.  I hope your family is just as pleased.  Enjoy!

Click on the recipe card for a printable version.


Chicken Tenders



This article was written by Candi Merritt, Certified Nutrition Education with Utah State University Extension. View original article on Eat Well Utah.