Hunger/Fullness Scale

Are you actually hungry? Use this scale to measure your hunger and to better manage the way you eat.

The Hunger/Fullness Scale was developed by Barbara Craighead, PhD, to help people gauge their hunger to determine whether they need to eat.The next time you feel hungry or finish a meal, take a moment to rate your feeling of hunger or fullness on the scale.

Very
Hungry

Moderately
Hungry

Mildly
Hungry

No Feeling;
Neutral

Mildly
Full

Very
Full

Much
Too Full

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

2.5

<-- Desirable Zone -->

5.5

Here's a little more about what the numbers mean:

1: Very hungry; starving; desperate. Your stomach is "screaming."
2: Moderately hungry; ready to eat. Your stomach is "talking."
3: Mildly hungry; beginning hunger. Your stomach is "whispering."
4: Neutral. You feel no sensations of hunger or fullness.
5: Mildly full. You feel satisfied.
6: Very full. Your stomach is beginning to feel a bit distended.
7: Much too full. Your stomach feels stuffed.
This is a subjective scale — it isn't objective in the way that counting calories is. For that reason, it can be more difficult to use. However, continued focus and practice will help you become more sensitive to your body's signals of hunger and fullness. Here are some tips:

  • We recommend staying between 2.5 and 5.5.
  • Never allow yourself to get down to 1. Have healthy snacks planned in advance and eat one if you fall below 2.5 on the scale. It typically takes three to four hours for the stomach to empty, so you should try not to go too much longer than that without eating.
  • Stop eating at 5.5. Eat slowly — it takes 20 minutes for your brain to know your stomach is full.

The really important question to ask yourself before you eat anything is "Am I really hungry?" Tune in to the physical sensations you're experiencing. Rate your hunger on the Hunger/Fullness Scale. If you aren't really hungry, what else may be going on? You may be eating in response to emotions or stress.