Disclaimer: This blog post is about a Hunger Scale, used to measure how hungry you are in any given moment and determine what food would be most satisfying. They are a part of the practice of Intuitive Eating. If you are experiencing food insecurity and/or are under-housed, where your choices about food and options to prepare it are limited, Hunger Scales are, at the least, ineffective. I acknowledge my privilege in using Hunger Scales.
A friend once told me not to let myself get too Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired. I try to follow that sage advice as much as I can. Learning to be aware of my breath when I’m angry has helped me to stay focused and not throw the kitchen sink into arguments. Picking up the phone and dialing a friend eases my loneliness, when I remember to do it (relentlessly scrolling my FaceBook feed, however, does not). And naps are a godsend.
Hunger is a trickier beast for me, as it can feed other emotions like anger, loneliness, and exhaustion (yes, in my world tired is a feeling), causing them (and me) to burst into flame like a forest fire. I remember once, in an argument with my partner that seemed to be going in vicious circles for longer than necessary, they urged me to eat something. “Let’s just stop for a moment so you can have a peanut butter sandwich. We can start fighting again afterwards.” I was infuriated that they would even suggest something like that, especially when I was feeling so damn small and unloveable (arguing does that to me). However, it worked. Once my blood sugar became balanced, I could listen to reason. And tearfully work things out.
So here is my Hunger Scale. Because I’m not a Numbers Person (they freak me out!), I use phrases. Maybe they will sound familiar to you:
Snack Hungry - I find myself nibbling on various and sundry snacky foods or finishing the leftovers in the fridge. I’m not quite yet ready for a meal, or maybe it’s too early for dinner. Snack Hungry can trigger a Grazing Episode, where I mindlessly eat a lot of things over a sometimes short period of time in order to distract myself (some people call that a binge).
Meal Hungry - I know I need to eat a meal and it’s a good time in my schedule to do that. I have the patience and resources to purchase necessary ingredients if need be, the creativity to think of something to make, and the time, energy, and resources to cook for myself. Cooking feels like fun and is an act of self-care. I may have a snack while I’m preparing my meal, but it usually doesn’t lead to grazing.
Restaurant Hungry - I am hungry and don’t have the energy, patience, or time to cook for myself. My creativity is dwindling and my self doubt is gaining ground. The thought of food is taking the majority of my attention, and I need to eat soon. If I have the funds available, I will go to a restaurant for a meal. Otherwise, I will go home and find something there. I may have some initial difficulty making a decision about where and what to eat, but I am able to feel confident in my choices once I do.
Fast Food Hungry - I am really hungry and need to eat quickly, yet I can’t seem to decide what or where to eat. Fast food may be a good option at this point simply because it is fast. And I need to eat. Fast. Self doubt is hampering any ideas I have about solving this problem and I am mercilessly criticizing myself for every choice I make around food (especially fast food). By the time I figure out what to eat, I am emotionally overwrought. I may find myself eating in my car just to get food in me quickly. I may not even enjoy the food I'm eating. Once I have eaten, I often crave sweets for the rest of the day. A Grazing Episode may follow.
Gas Station Hungry - All bets are off and I am searching for the closest, quickest thing to eat that will satisfy me until I can have a meal. Whatever I end up eating is usually intensely salty and is washed down by something intensely sweet - i.e. a packet of cheese crackers and a soda, foods that are readily available at convenience stores. At this point I often feel incredibly guilty about eating these foods, because “I should be making better choices.” My emotions are all over the map and I am really tired. My eating feels really disorganized for the rest of the day, and I am usually critical of whatever else I do eat.
Using this Hunger Scale helps me stay connected to my body. I use it to gauge my feelings around food and what I need to do to take care of myself. How does this Hunger Scale resonate for you?
New website, new blog. This post originally appeared on my old website in 2014.
The message still stands, so I thought I would put it out there again. I hope you enjoy it!
PS - We are in Mercury Retrograde until 2/20/21
We recently came out of Mercury Retrograde, a time when people in the New Age and other spiritual communities generally freak the hell out. I’ve been told to avoid signing contracts, expect travel to be difficult, cars to crash, and arguments to ensue during a retrograde period.
To some, the best thing to do during Mercury Retrograde is go hide under a rock and wait ‘til it’s over.
But just like the tides, energy ebbs and flows. And the fact of the matter is that life has to go on, whether the wind is at our back, propelling us along or blowing our hair back with gale force.
Magical thinking that claims things can only be one way in order to be successful merely leads to the roller coaster of anxiety and depression that fuels my tendencies toward perfectionism. (Who, me?)
So here are a few simple suggestions for ways you can use the energy of Mercury Retrograde to your advantage the next time it rolls around. Because I can assure you, there will be a next time.
A Mercury Retrograde is a great time to let go of stuff that’s dragging you down. But instead of trying to tackle the whole enchilada, try picking one simple, small task and go from there. Once that one is completed to your liking, give yourself a small reward. For instance, during this past retrograde, I went through our entire pantry and threw out anything that was outdated.
I inventoried the canned goods, consolidated the plastic storage bags, and refilled the dry goods canisters, literally releasing the stale energy that was inhabiting my shelves, and, metaphorically, my life.
Then, using the ingredients I discovered in my now organized cabinet, I made cookies. And ate them.
They were delicious, by the way.
A Mercury Retrograde is a wonderful time to rekindle old friendships from the past. We all change and grow, and sometimes that means our relationships change, too. Why not call that friend you haven’t spoken to in a few months and just catch up? Or reconnect with that former co-worker and do a little networking?
You could set the wheels in motion for some interesting opportunities in the future.
Now I’m not encouraging you to call up that ex-lover who did you wrong, you know, the one you can’t seem to get off of your mind, and attempt to get back together. Or at least arrange one last booty call. But if you do, and it goes awry, just blame it on the planets and move on.
It is Mercury Retrograde, after all.
Finally, take a moment to slow down and ease up on your expectations.
Things might break during a retrograde, but, then again, they might break outside of one, too. And, while it’s probably an inconvenience, it’s most likely not the end of the world, as much as my brain (and probably yours, too) would like to think it is.
So give yourself some slack and do what you need to do so the repairs can get done. Because everyone knows how much broken stuff can disrupt your chi in Feng Shui.
If you’re into that.
Stacey Beth Shulman is the Wake Up Fairy for your Soul. As a Gentle Activist, Subtle Disruptor, Intuitive Creatrix, and Deep See Diver, she uses her superpower of compassionate intimacy to create brave spaces for people of all shapes, sizes, genders, and abilities to experience joyful movement, restful stillness, and attuned eating with pleasure and delight. Click here to get in touch.