Understanding your hunger meditation practice
In this exercise developed with the help of my colleague and Dietician Lara Rickard, we are going to look at a short mindfulness practice to help you understand your hunger.
If you have not read it already you may want to check out the article Understanding Hunger: Physical and psychological cues. This helps to provide some insight into the physical and emotional cues that occur with hunger, so you have a better understanding of what you are working with.
Let’s begin the meditation practice
To start off with, sit comfortably on a chair or on the floor.
Take a few good, deep breaths & close your eyes. Feel the weight of your body, bringing awareness to all areas of contact: the soles of the feet with the floor, the hands with the lap, the legs with the chair or floor.
Then, let breathing return to what’s natural – allowing the breath to flow gently in and gently out. Bring the focus to the stomach area – place one hand here. Release any tension that might be in this area. Be aware of any anxiety – simply acknowledging it and without trying to change it. Then, on a scale of 1 (least hungry) to 10 (most hungry), rate your hunger – engage with how your stomach feels.
How did you come to this number?
Bring the attention back to the breath and gently open your eyes.
It’s important to become familiar with your personal level of hunger – what’s your 5? 6? 10? How do you know this? How does your 10 (most hungry) feel physically – do you have a headache or get shaky or feel really irritable? When is it best for you to start eating?
On one hand, it’s much more difficult to eat mindfully when you’re very hungry but a moderate level of hunger is helpful in increasing satisfaction in the meal, and stops us from just eating mechanically.
In order to understand your hunger better, start off with one meal/day and tune into your hunger cues (on a scale of 1 – 10):
- At the beginning of the meal
- Half way through the meal
- At the end of the meal
Whilst doing this notice how your hunger levels change throughout the meal. With increased observation and awareness will become an ability for you to want to make changes. This is much more powerful than anyone else telling you to do something, instead now you feel it and understand it and the choice to change your behaviour is truly yours.