Principle 2: Honor your hunger

Welcome to day 2 of the IE Principles & Practice series! ⁣


Keep your body biologically fed with adequate energy and carbohydrates. Otherwise you can trigger a primal drive to overeat. Once you reach the moment of excessive hunger, all intentions of moderate, conscious eating are fleeting and irrelevant. Learning to honor this first biological signal sets the stage for re-building trust with yourself and food. ⁣⁣


Diet culture paints hunger as an enemy or symptom to overcome. In reality, hunger is your body’s way of communicating a basic need of survival. Hunger is not shameful; it is necessary for life! To practice this principle, I invite you to explore how and where you feel hunger.

  • Where do you feel the physical sensations of hunger in your body? Perhaps a gnawing emptiness or growling in your stomach? Maybe a subtle gnawing in your throat or esophagus? Maybe a felt sense of sleepiness or lethargy throughout your body? Perhaps a dull headache? Or perhaps sensations are experienced somewhere else? Or maybe no sensation at all?
  • How do you feel the effects of hunger on your: mood, ability to focus & concentrate, or overall energy? Perhaps you start to notice increased thoughts of food and a desire to eat? (That’s a common sign of hunger).⁣
  • Before your next meal or snack, connect with your body & ask yourself about the overall qualitative experience of your hunger—does it feel: pleasant, unpleasant, or neutral? If it was unpleasant, what might you do differently the next time you eat?
  • If you feel familiar and at peace with your hunger, try the same exercise when you are out of your routine. How does your hunger change, if at all, when you are traveling, stressed, or low on sleep?
  • Try to approach your hunger with a compassionate, nonjudgmental curiosity – there are no wrong answers here! This is an ongoing practice and you don’t usually ‘get it’ in one day, especially if you’re been emerged in diet culture!⁣

Please share your reflections in the comments so that others can see the various ways our body experiences hunger, it can be different for different folks.

Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN

Evelyn Tribole, MS, RDN is an award-winning registered dietitian, with a nutrition counseling practice in Newport Beach, California. She has written nine books including the bestsellers Healthy Homestyle Cooking and Intuitive Eating(co-author). Her newest book is the Intuitive Eating Workbook:Ten Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food.


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