How your hunger meter can help stop comfort eating

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A lot of us get caught in the trap of using food for comfort, and during the pandemic, it's easy to seek food to deal with stress. This is where the hunger meter can help stop that bad habit.

Kelsey Seybold Clinic registered dietitian Ronda Elsenbrook says our brains are hardwired to love sugar. Sugar actually triggers positive sensations in our brain, which is why we reach for sweets when we are feeling stressed or upset.

It's a quick fix and the hunger meter is the best way to combat those urges.

Engaging your meter means taking a pause before opening the fridge or pantry. That gives you time to separate your actual hunger from just emotions.

1 = Starving, cranky, can't think

2 = Very hungry, rumbling stomach

3 = Manageable hunger, still calm

4 = You could eat, but you're not that hungry

5 = You've probably just eaten, not hungry

6 = You're content and not overly stuffed

7 = Your taste buds lose interest much beyond this point

8 = You are on the path toward full

9 = Thanksgiving day stuffed

10 = Uh oh. Time to unbutton

"You maybe want to start thinking... maybe a three is a good place where you are starting to feel those signs of hunger but you still have time to go find food, fix food and eat in a controlled fashion. Then on the full side, you want to stop eating before you get all the way to full so maybe eating to somewhere around a seven," Elsenbrook explained.

Elsenbrook said another great way to stop over-eating or comfort-eating while you're working or schooling from home is by keeping designated meal schedules.

The key is to match your food to your hunger level. If you feel you're at a four on the hunger meter, a light snack such as an apple may cut it.

If you feel you're a full-blown one on the hunger meter, you'll need a full nutritional meal.

"You want to stay in the middle of that range," Elsenbrook said. "So if you're thinking you are going to need to eat at a three, you want to stay between that four, five, six, and then seven. When you stay in that middle range, the studies have shown, for years, that it helps you maintain a good overall weight."

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