Hunger Awareness is all about learning about your body's physical hunger cues.
Hunger works on a spectrum which generally spans from "I couldn't eat another bite" (1) to "I'll rip your face off if you don't feed me" (10).
We need to learn about our body's physical sensations at various spots on this spectrum.
This serves three main purposes: we'll learn that hunger is not an emergency (it's ok to be a little hungry, say anything under a 7 or 8 on a 1-10), we'll only eat when we're truly hungry (when we're at a 7+), and we'll learn to stop when we're satisfied, not stuffed - unless we're trying to gain weight or build muscle, then we'll want to eat a bit more.
That last piece is critical to body composition goals. "What" we eat generally determines our overall health, vitality, and wellbeing whereas "how much" is a far bigger contributor to our body composition.
The best part about developing hunger awareness is that there is very little need to count calories, track macros, or weigh out your food. You'll begin to learn to notice when you've had enough simply by the signals your own body is sending you (and your body is pretty darn smart). In turn, you'll also begin to learn about what a "proper portion" looks like for you.
Here are a few ways to practice this skill:
-Eat slowly and "check-in" with yourself roughly every 1/4 of your meal. That's right, the "consumption pace" behavior plays a key role in developing hunger awareness. If you find this challenging, I recommend reprioritizing and focusing on practicing eating slowly first and then revisiting this skill. At each checkpoint, see if you can assign a "hunger score" using a 1-10 scale - 1 being not hungry and 10 being very hungry.
Take this one step further: If at any point while eating you find yourself somewhere around a 2 to 3 or lower, stop. You're done. See what you notice about this stopping point. What does it feel like? What thoughts come up?
If you're not yet down to a 2 to 3, keep eating (slowly). Repeat until you get to something that feels like a 2 or a 3, then stop.
-Play the "Hunger Game." This is one of my favorite exercises from my mentors at Precision Nutrition and comes straight from the curriculum they use in their men's and women's coaching programs. It's very similar to the above but focuses on the "before" and "after" eating instead of during eating. You can download a printable PDF of the Hunger Game in the attachments.