Episode 031: Intuitive Eating Summer Series Part 3: Honoring Hunger + Fullness



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Today I am digging into Part 3 of my IE summer series. If you haven’t listened to part 1 and 2, all about ditching diets and making peace with food, the satisfaction factor and the food police I highly encourage you to go listen. My aim with this series is to give you short and sweet practical advice to begin to implement the ten principles of IE into your life.

LISTEN: Listen on iTunes | Listen on Stitcher | Listen on Google Play | Listen on Spotify


Just a reminder, for those of you who don’t know what IE is, intuitive eating is a self care nutrition framework developed by dietitians Elyse Resch and Evelyn Tribole, who has been my mentor in becoming an intuitive eating counselor, that is based on 10 principles, that has been verified by over 100 studies now to be effective in helping those that implement the principles become more in tune with their bodies, make peace with food, honor their hunger and fullness cues and nourish themselves without dieting. It’s not the hunger-and-fullness diet and it’s not a weight loss plan, but a framework to help you develop the skills to eat in a way that works for you.

To learn more about the 10 principles, check out Episode 004: The 10 Principles of IE.

Intuitive Eating Book:

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that works by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch© 2012 St. Martin’s Griffin; Third edition

In today’s episode we are digging into principles 2 and 5: honor your hunger and feel your fullness.

I have a question for you: how often do you ignore your hunger? How does that work out for you?

Most of the time, ignoring or putting off our hunger- whether for practical reasons or to try and ‘eat less’ (which we know doesn’t work in a dieting sense) is a futile attempt to balance our energy intake) only ends in us eating MORE when we deprive ourselves and become over-hungry.

Most of the time, ignoring or putting off our hunger- whether for practical reasons or to try and ‘eat less’ (which we know doesn’t work in a dieting sense) is a futile attempt to balance our energy intake) only ends in us eating MORE when we deprive ourselves and become over-hungry.

Hunger is a BIOLOGICAL CUE. It signals to use that our body is on E. How far does your car run on E? Not far, before it breaks down. The same happens in our body.

Once you reach the point of excessive hunger- hanger, if you will, all bets are off. We more often than not don’t make choices that serve us, and overeat in an effort to quell the intense hunger we feel. Often times these effects can last for HOURS on end.

When you are not eating enough, your body takes this signal as starvation– amping up your hunger hormones to remind you, “Hey, I need fuel!”.

Our need for food– ENERGY, remember that is the primary need our food fulfills- is so powerful and essential, our bodies compensate with intense physiological and psychological cues.

How well do you think when you’re hungry? Exactly. Your body is begging you for fuel.

Examples of how this works physiologically:

Cravings for carbohydrates are increased when we go too long without eating due to the effect of Neuro Peptide Y.

Ghrelin (one of our body’s hunger hormones) levels increase post-dieting to help our bodies return to their set point weight. Our body fights against our extreme moderation.

The Minnesota Starvation Experiment

What does honoring your hunger DO?

  • Creates trust (your body needs to know consistently it will have access to food to avoid the primal drive to overeat).
  • Allows us to tune in and respond WELL
  • There is a reason honor your hunger comes before feel your fullness- it’s impossible to truly respond to your fullness if you haven’t responded first, to hunger.

It is MUCH EASIER to stop eating when necessary when you truly know you will be able to eat again. This requires the trust of consistently honoring your hunger.

Dieting often instills in us a ‘license’ to eat at mealtime, so instead of tuning into when our body is actually satisfied, we clean our plates, in fear the next meal won’t come, or in fear of impending hunger (when we still see hunger as a bad thing).

We also get the ‘clean your plate club’ card from:

Our parents

Society (economy)


Eating when you’re ravenous

We’re not eating because we need it- we’re eating because it is there, or we were told to. It’s not responding to our actual biological cues.

The same goes for only eating tiny meals to ‘quell’ your hunger consistently. Not only is this not great for your blood sugar, it never truly satisfies your need to fuel your body.

Respecting fullness- i.e. the ability to stop eating when biologically fed, comes down to a few factors:

  • Honoring hunger
  • Allowing FULL, unconditional permission to eat. If we don’t have permission to eat again when we are hungry, we will consistently overeat for fear we won’t get another meal like that. It’s easier to leave food behind when you KNOW you can have it again, any time.
  • Different fullness factors–
  • Amount of time it’s been
  • Amount of food left in stomach
  • Type of foods
  • Initial Hunger
  • Social Influence (eat more when with others)

It’s important to know that fullness- like hunger, will change day to day and meal to meal– this is NORMAL.

How do we do it, practically?

1. Learn the subtle signs of hunger

Stomach growling is not the only sign of physical hunger. Yo-yo-dieting and the diet mindset can trick us into thinking we’re not hungry when we are (or we are, when we’re not!). Here are some subtle cues your body is needing fuel: Note that many of these by themselves do not indicate hunger. But if it’s been a while since you’ve eaten, hunger might be the culprit. Learn to identify your hunger signs and associate them with the hunger and fullness scale. Click through to download my hunger + fullness scale worksheet:

2. Honor your hunger, right away.

Each time you eat, ask yourself: Am I hungry? What is my hunger level?

It’s ok to eat smaller meals, or bigger meals- it all depends on what feels good in YOUR body.

Remember- this isn’t a mantra.

Intuitive Eating is NOT the hunger and fullness diet- sometimes you want to eat because you want to eat! Sometimes you need to plan ahead. This is all ok.

3. Do a fullness check-in: begin to learn comfortable satiety.


  • Subtle feeling of stomach fullness
  • Feeling satisfied + content
  • Neither hungry nor full.

Remember: This is HIGHLY individual and simply a practice of tuning in. The hunger + fullness scale can help with this, as well.

4. Check in with yourself at the end of each meal.

If you are used to cleaning your plate, practice leaving a bite or two of food on your plate and see how you feel.

Where is your fullness level at? How does that feel?

Does it feel like something is missing? This is likely the satisfaction factor. Go back to the last episode and listen in for tips on choosing more satisfying foods.

Friends, I am so enjoying sharing this series with you. I truly hope you are enjoying digging deeper into this series with me. Please shoot me an email if you have follow-up questions, kris@healthymamakris.com. I am planning on doing a Q+A episode at the end of the series answering your questions and don’t forget to tag me on Instagram + Facebook @healthymamakris with the progress you’re making. Remember I’m always here for one-on-one intuitive eating and nutrition coaching. I only have a couple coaching spots left this month– so head to my website, healthymamakris.com to book a free 45-minute discovery session to decide if working together is the next step in your food freedom journey.

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