Scheduled Eating Times or Hunger Cues?

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Hi there – hope your week is going great!!

Moving away from the feeling of scheduled meal times can be tricky, and little scary. For me, this was super important to work on. I thought I had to eat all the time and was terrified to even feel the slightest bit hungry. This messed up my natural cues I was born with, though, and made me feel like I couldn’t trust myself.

Slowly, gently I started to shift my thinking (and it felt amazing to actually start honoring my body). When we do this, the constant thoughts about food start to fade away because – shocker! – we aren’t thinking about food all the time anymore!

It’s hard to shift your mindset from the diet thoughts of needing to eat every 2-3 hours whether you’re hungry or not. As we know, this thinking can fuel more diet rules, and lead to chaotic eating habits or bingeing.

How do we move away from strict schedules and into listening to our hunger cues? 

  1. Do some investigating & invite the gray area in.

Start learning about your hunger cues again by allowing yourself to feel hunger. Pick one day or one meal to let your HUNGER signal when it’s time to eat. This could be awkward and confusing, and that’s OKAY! After years of dieting, why would you all of a sudden know how to listen to your body? Invite this confusion in, know it’s going to happen and be okay with it!


  1. Hear the food rule and let it go (as best you can).

When your mind starts saying — oh my gosh, it’s been 2 hours I need to eat! CHALLENGE that voice by saying, “Do I really? How am I feeling right now?”

An indicator that can help you is cravings (not all the time, but sometimes). If you’re not craving anything, then you may not be hungry.

You might be confused here — thinking things like, “Am I hungry?! I can’t tell. Should I eat?!” It’s okay. Just sit with it. If you aren’t sure if you’re hungry, then go about your business until a signal hits you.


  1. Recognize patterns.

After you practice listening to your body long enough you will start to recognize patterns. You’ll know what times of day you’re needing food most of the time, and you’ll realize when things change (for example: work days are different than weekend days, or on days when you work on in the morning you might feel a lot hungrier).

Become aware of these things. These will be natural guidelines that start to happen in your life as you move away from strict meal times.


  1. Become aware of signals.

What are the cues you’re getting when you start to realize you’re hungry?

  • Are you lightheaded?
  • Are you feeling tired?
  • Is your stomach hollow feeling? Growling?
  • Do you get cranky? (I do!)

Notice these signals, whatever they might be!

What do you think about these steps? Let me know in the comments below.

P.S. Make sure you get signed up for my free, weekly emails to receive my free 3 Day Challenge to Food Freedom!!! 🙂 Plug your name and email in the box below!


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About Eat Work Play Balanced

Abby is a certified health coach who knows how difficult it can be to get out of the diet cycle and mindset. On the Eat Work Play Balanced blog you'll find tips, strategies, and info that can help you transform your relationship with food to find balance! *Disclaimer-I am not a doctor, and do not treat or diagnose women with eating disorders.

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