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  • Writer's pictureRhea Lewandoski R.D.

Hunger and Fullness – Starting with Other Sensation Cues

Author: Rhea Lewandoski R.D.

drawing of a plant

Sensation cues like hunger and fullness help the brain and body communicate. Now, this sentence may seem obvious, but it can be very tricky to tune into these cues during eating disorder recovery. An eating disorder can impact a person’s ability to experience hunger and fullness cues because there is a disconnection with their body; eating disorder thoughts/rules/emotions related to these cues; and a lack of energy availability for these cues to be working to their full potential. There are other scenarios that can impact hunger and fullness cues not stated above related and unrelated to an eating disorder. The focus of this blog is not to provide an exhaustive explanation of hunger and fullness, but to introduce the idea of building a connection with other sensation cues.

To build a connection with our body and heighten our awareness and response to sensation cues we need enough nourishment. This usually means that getting enough is one of the top priorities and because hunger and fullness may be skewed by the eating disorder, mechanical or structured eating is often a very useful tool. If hunger and fullness feel too confusing, chaotic, non-existent, and/or linked with the eating disorder, people tend to begin the practice of connecting to their body by tuning into other sensation cues aside from hunger and fullness. We can start to build a trusting relationship with our body and work on transferring this to knowledge and connection to hunger and fullness cues later on.

It is common to notice the extremes first and it takes time, practice and patience to tune in. If this brings up a sense of overwhelm or distress or if you are someone who has experienced trauma, tuning in may be more frustrating and/or distressful. It is important to seek support with this process from a trained professional as necessary.

Take a look at other ways your body speaks to you – what sensation cues do you experience?

This can include – temperature, bladder and bowels, muscle aches and stretches, relaxation, tiredness or wakefulness, thirst etc. Practice tuning into these cues and honoring them. Practice self-reflection and mindfulness when you pick up a sensation cue – “I am noticing ______”. Use curiosity – “This sensation is letting me know ______”. Some people like to make a chart for themselves rating the sensation, or noting any thoughts, emotions, and what the sensation feels like in their body.

This is just the beginning of sensation exploration, take your time with it, be curious and ask for support.


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