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Hunger and Fullness Journal Prompt
Use this technique when starting to evaluate how your emotions and feelings play into your hunger and fullness.
Welcome to the first of my journal prompt series. These are prompts I will often ask clients to complete in our 1:1 sessions to help identify ways that we can adjust eating to be more supportive. If you enjoy this - let me know!
Disordered eating of any magnitude can disrupt our awareness of and connection to body signals. It often starts by not trusting that our hunger cues are our body’s way of clueing us in to when and what to eat. This prompt is one way to re-establish trust and understanding in what your body is telling you. When you’re feeling hunger - I want you to honor that! When you are feeling full - I want you to honor that, too! But sometimes things get in the way of those cues coming in clearly - which is where this activity comes in.
You’ll want to do this activity with a meal or snack in front of you along with a journal or your phone to take notes.
Let’s get started:
Assess hunger/fullness prior to taking your first bite. Use as many descriptors as you can, moving throughout your entire body. What do you feel in your stomach - pain, emptiness, growling, pressure? What about your head, mouth, eyes, throat? Sometimes we may even notice hunger in our extremities. Be as specific as possible in what you physically feel - like you are explaining to someone who has never experienced these cues what it feels like to physically feel hungry or full.
Write down any emotions/feelings you associate with that level of hunger or fullness. (are you feeling proud, anxious, excited, calm, angry, sad, shameful, etc).
Do any of these emotions impact your hunger?
If you feel anxious, does it give you a stomachache? If you feel angry, does it make you feel warm or uninterested in food? If you feel proud, does it decrease your stress levels or make it harder to focus on the meal? Everyone experiences emotions and feelings differently - it may take time to figure out how you physically experience your emotions.
As you begin eating try to notice the moment you pass from hungry to neutral and the moment you pass from neutral to full. Notice the sensation that changes in your awareness. Notice how your emotions or feelings change. This may mean slowing down the eating process. Write down what you notice.
Sometimes I hear claims that mindfulness can help us eat less or even lose weight. I want to remind you now that the purpose of this mindfulness prompt is to help you get enough. Not to try to eat less. We are in the process of getting to know our body cues better as a way of trusting them - not as a way of further trying to control ourselves into eating less. If you’re noticing urges for restricting your intake, I encourage you to talk about this with a registered dietitian and/or therapist!
As you become full, think about how your body feels. Name the feelings neutrally. Then try to connect to your emotional response to these physical feelings. Write down which emotions come up when you feel fullness.
After the meal, journal about what you could take from this activity and use in future meals to become more aware of your hunger/fullness. How can you bring mindfulness into meals in a way that is supportive? How can you fact check your need for food when big emotions/feelings may be impacting your cues? How can self-awareness help you while eating?
If this prompt brought up more emotions as you were more mindful of your food and intake, take some time to breathe, comfort yourself, and speak kindly to yourself. Nourishing yourself can bring up a lot of things when you are recovering from disordered eating.