This lesson helps young people think about the ways their bodies give them signals telling them when they need to eat. They will use a worksheet to track their hunger before and after a snack and learn that tracking your hunger can keep you from overeating.
Ask the youth, what does a baby do when it is hungry? Usually he or she cries or whimpers. A dog might do the same thing…bark or whine to let us know it’s time to eat.
Inform the youth that our bodies let us know in much the same way when we are starting to feel hungry. How? Maybe our stomach growls, we get a headache, we become cranky or irritable, or feel tired or weak. It takes about 10-15 minutes once we have started eating for our bodies to notice the change. The feeling of fullness is the result of your brain reacting to chemicals and hormones that are released when you eat. Your brain can take up to 20 minutes to register these chemicals before you are signaled you are getting full. Therefore, it’s important to eat slowly enough to give ourselves time to adjust. Our bodies send signals that we’ve had enough, like our belly actually feeling a bit more filled up. If we eat too much too fast we can’t notice those cues until it is too late and we feel extremely full and uncomfortable.
Here’s a simple way to gauge before, during and after eating what state we’re in:
😐 = Pretty hungry, my stomach feels empty
🙂 = Just right! Not too hungry or too full; satisfied
🙁 = Too full, I ate too much
This language of hunger is different from the cravings we feel when we smell our favorite food or see something delicious looking in a magazine. That’s our thoughts telling us, “Wow…I sure would like to taste that,” no matter whether our body is hungry or not.
Being hungry is different from craving and we can teach ourselves to better listen to our bodies to know the difference.
Encourage young people to use the worksheet over the next several days to track their hunger and see what they notice. The more they practice this mindful approach, the more attuned they will become to their bodies’ food needs.
‘Tis the season to take note of your hunger cues
Hand out the Healthy Families Newsletter in English or Spanish, so that families can continue discussing the ways that young people know they are hungry and when they have eaten enough.