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Recovery blog

Listening to Hunger Cues

By: Jillian Mergruen, RD, CDN, Registered Dietitian at The Renfrew Center of New York

Posted on June 24, 2019


Hunger and fullness cues are something my patients seem to find the most confusing. Either the cues are absent, come at the wrong times, or come on intensely; they are hard to know when to trust, and when to ignore. So how do you know when to trust your hunger/fullness cues, and "listen to your body?" Over time, as many of you have probably experienced, your cues will become more regulated. However, at first, they will likely be dysregulated. Many people have an easier time listening to their fullness cues, and not their hunger cues. They stop eating when they feel slightly full, and often do not eat even if feeling hungry. Hunger often feels scary, especially if you are used to ignoring these cues, or if you feel as though you ate recently and shouldn't be hungry at that time.

However, to start to eat intuitively, you must listen to your hunger cues, and not only your fullness cues. Our bodies are very smart, and if it is giving you hunger cues, it is likely because it is hungry and needs more food! This is different than fullness cues, though, which tend to come even if your body is not full, just because your body may not be used to getting a normal quantity of food at that time. Moral of the story: eat when you're hungry, and until your fullness cues are more regulated, eat a balanced plate and challenge the fullness to help get there!

Jillian Mergruen, RD, CDN, is a Registered Dietitian at The Renfrew Center of New York. She received her Bachelor's degree in Dietetics from the University of Maryland, College Park. Jillian completed her internship at The Renfrew Center of Bethesda and her dietetic internship at LIU Post. Jillian loves working with her patients and the community to help people have a better relationship with food and their bodies.
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