Hunger Scale – Know When to Start and Stop Eating

smooth river rocks arranged to look like a scale. Behind is a beach against a blue sky
  • November 24, 2020

What is it?

The hunger scale is a numeric scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being extremely hungry and 10 being extremely full. Because this technique requires us to stop and think about our internal hunger and satiety cues, we can learn to disregard external cues that tell us to overeat. The key to using the hunger scale is eating when you are reasonably hungry and stopping when you are comfortably full.

When do you start/stop eating?

The hunger scale tells us at a number 1, we may feel shaky, or even a bit nauseous. This is your body’s way of saying it needs fuel. And at a number 10, we may feel uncomfortably full. The best time to start eating is at a number 3, hungry enough to eat, but with time to plan what to eat. The best time to stop eating is when you are at a number 6, satisfied, but still able to eat more.

How can you use the hunger scale?

Try closing your eyes and forgetting about all of the distractions around you. Wait a moment to really get in touch with how you feel, then think about how your feelings of hunger fit into the scale.

  • 1-2 -Starving (at risk for overeating)
  • 3-4 Gentle Hunger (Body’s internal cues telling you it is time to eat)
  • 5-6 Comfortably Full (Body signals it has had enough food)
  • 7-8 Very Full (Eating beyond biological need)
  • 9-10 Uncomfortably Full (Eating for non-hunger reasons)

For more information on the Hunger Scale, follow these links:


This post was originally written by Christina Lewis RD, a former Account Management employee.

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