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Am I Hungry When I Eat? Medical Minute Episode 19

Am I Hungry When I Eat?

Hi, I’m Dr. Craig Primack, and today I have a question, am I hungry when I eat?

One of the most important questions someone can ask is, “Do I eat when I’m hungry, or am I hungry when I’m eating?” I think it’s a simple question, but it’s really not a simple answer. Sometimes we are hungry when we eat, and we’ll talk about that in the second half of this.

In the first half, we have to decide, am I really hungry? Or am I bored? Am I tired? lonely? Am I happy? Am I sad? Is it Friday? Is it a good problem? Am I having a bad problem? Why am I eating? Once I determine I am hungry, it doesn’t come naturally to gauge how much hunger you have.

Hunger Scales

What I recommend is doing a hunger scale. In a hunger scale, we say, “How hungry am I?” With 10 being the worst hunger you’ve ever had. One or zero being no hunger at all.

When I’m super hungry, I joke I’d even say I’d even eat my arm. And when I’m a zero hungry, even my favorite food, when you put it in front of me, I actually wouldn’t even take a bite. It doesn’t come naturally to use hunger scales. I think we should use a hunger scale at three times, mostly.

Number one, grade hunger when you first sit down at the table.

Grade your hunger a second time when you’re about halfway through with your meal.

And grade hunger at third time when you’re at the end of your meal.

The easiest way to describe should I be eating is you should eat when your hunger is about an eight. You’re hungry enough to eat. You’re not starving. And you want to take your eight and move it down and eat down to about a three and a half or four. At a three and a half or four, you are full, or at least full enough to not eat again for about three or four hours.


Grading our hunger is not something that happens normally. Practicing hunger scales doesn’t come easy in the beginning. It will take some practice until you get good at it.

Remember, you want to start eating when you’re about an eight and eat it down to about a three and a half or a four. Now, normally certain foods, you know it takes a certain amount of food when you’re an eight to bring it down to, let’s say, a four. So by four points. But if you wait all the way until you’re at 10, you wait extra amount of time, the same amount of food that brought you from an eight to a four, now it brings you from a 10 maybe down to a six, or maybe a six and a half. And so it takes extra food.

And when you eat more food in one meal, it sets you up for …

Next time you’re about to eat food, just ask yourself very simply, “am I hungry when I’m eating?”

And if I’m not hungry, what am I? Am I happy, bored, tired, lonely, tired in pain, celebrating, and so forth? And then start practicing a hunger scale. Remember, how hungry am I now at the beginning of your meal, somewhere in the middle, and then again at the end?

Thanks for being here. Please subscribe to my channel at the links above.



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