One key part of being on Cruise Control is to understand your hunger and fullness signals. If you’ve been following one diet plan or another over the past several years, you’ve likely lost the ability to listen to the small quiet voice inside that tells you when to start eating and when to stop eating. When you are starving, that inner voice isn’t so quiet—it screams. Ditto for when you are stuffed. The problem is that if you wait until your body is shrieking for food or wailing because you are bloated beyond comfort, it’s too late. The damage is done, and you’re either going to be inhaling food like a thousand-dollar Dyson, or you’re going to be in agony, popping Tums all night and beating yourself up for going overboard. That’s why you have to learn to listen for the subtler signals. Start making use of the following scale right away to help you get back in touch with your hunger and full signals.
Throughout the day, check in and see how you are feeling on a hunger or fullness level. Rate your hunger on the scale of 1 to 10. You want to aim to eat when you are at a 3–4 and to stop when you are around 5–6.
The Hunger Scale
1. Ravenous, weak, dizzy, jittery, headache; hangry. Can’t concentrate. Stomach acid is churning. You don’t care what you eat, but you must eat—now!
2. Stomach growling, cranky, feel a headache coming on, can’t stop thinking about food.
3. Stomach is starting to growl, stomach feels empty, eating would be enjoyable now.
4. Could eat something, may feel the first pangs or gurgles of hunger; you notice your first thoughts of food.
5. Full, satisfied, neither hungry nor full; your stomach doesn’t feel bloated at all.
6. Perfectly and pleasantly full, relaxed, and comfortable.
7. Starting to feel a little uncomfortable. Food stops tasting as good. Stomach feels a bit stretched. You start to feel sleepy.
8. Need to unbutton your pants; you know you’ve gone too far, and you feel regret.
9. Your stomach hurts, feeling heavy and uncomfortable; clothes feel tight.
10. You are so overstuffed it hurts. You are in a food coma. You feel sick. You are Thanksgiving-dinner full.