Understanding Your Hunger Cues and Intuitive Eating

Are you struggling to feel satisfied after meals, or depriving yourself of the foods you enjoy? Do you find yourself stuck in a cycle of diets without achieving lasting health benefits? Learning about hunger cues and intuitive eating might be just what you need! Intuitive eating emphasises self-awareness and reconnecting with your body’s natural hunger cues. By honouring these cues, you can make healthier, more sustainable food choices. Here’s how you can start your journey towards intuitive eating.

What Are Hunger and Satiety Cues?

Hunger Cues: Hunger cues are your body’s way of signalling the need for food. These cues can vary, but common signs include:

  • Irritability or headaches
  • Stomach growling
  • Low energy levels
  • Dizziness or shakiness
  • Increased appetite or cravings

Psychological hunger cues, like comfort eating or eating out of boredom, also play a role. These signals tell you when your body needs nourishment.

Satiety Cues: Satiety cues indicate when you’ve had enough food. They signal that you no longer need to eat. Common satiety cues include:

  • Feeling full after a meal or snack
  • A decrease in appetite
  • Feeling satisfied even after a small amount of food

Recognising these cues helps you determine how much food is right for you.

Why Pay Attention to Your Hunger and Satiety Cues?

Learn What Your Body Needs: Listening to your body’s signals helps you become more mindful of what and how much you eat. By tuning into these signals, you can make food choices that best satisfy your hunger and cravings.

Assess the Type of Hunger: Distinguish between physical hunger (the body’s need for fuel) and emotional hunger (eating due to feelings like stress or sadness). This awareness helps you respond appropriately to your body’s needs.

Become More Aware: Recognising and responding to hunger signals before they intensify allows you to nourish your body healthily. This practice helps you avoid under-eating or overconsuming food.

Why Hunger is a Good Thing

Hunger is a natural signal, just like the urge to sleep or go to the bathroom. It activates hormones that regulate metabolism and energy levels. Understanding and respecting your hunger signals promotes a balanced and healthy eating pattern.

How to Identify Physical Signs of Hunger

Here are some signs that you might be physically hungry:

  • Growling stomach
  • Low energy levels
  • Headaches or dizziness
  • Mood swings and difficulty concentrating
  • Cravings for specific foods

Learning to recognise these signs helps you better understand when your body needs food.

How to Connect to Your Hunger Cues

Pay Attention: Notice sensations like a growling stomach or fatigue. Pause and check in with your feelings before eating.

Honour Your Body’s Needs: Listen to your hunger signals rather than relying on timed meals or external cues. This helps develop trust in your body’s needs.

Take Small Steps: Learning to recognise true physical hunger is a gradual process. Be patient and compassionate with yourself.

Practical Tips for Intuitive Eating

  • Allow Time Between Meals: Let physical hunger resurface before deciding what to eat.
  • Get Enough Sleep: Rest increases your ability to connect with your body’s signals.
  • Avoid Labelling Foods: Focus on how different foods make you feel rather than categorising them as “good” or “bad.”
  • Practise Mindfulness: Use meditation to enhance awareness of your body’s signals.
  • Nourish with Whole Foods: Choose nutrient-dense foods to fuel your body.
  • Connect with Others: Surround yourself with people who practise intuitive eating for support.

Challenges in Listening to Hunger Cues

Recognising and responding to hunger cues can be challenging, especially with the influence of diet culture or busy lifestyles. If you have a history of disordered eating or take medications that affect hunger, you may need to rely on time-based eating until you reconnect with your natural signals.

Practise Self-Compassion

It’s normal to struggle with tuning into your body’s needs. Be gentle with yourself and remember that perfection isn’t the goal. If you need help, consider booking an appointment with a registered dietitian or therapist to support your journey.

Understanding your hunger cues and practising intuitive eating can transform your relationship with food. Start small, be patient, and enjoy the benefits of a healthier, more balanced approach to eating.

For more information on intuitive eating, explore the resources from Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch.


  • The concept of intuitive eating was developed by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch in 1995 and is a well-established, evidence-based, mind-body health approach.

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