Principle 2 ~ Honour Your Hunger

Intuitive eating principle 2, honour your hunger, is all about recognising when you’re hungry and acting upon it, not just ignoring it. 

People often think that hunger is just a feeling in their stomach, but it’s much more than that, and understanding what it feels like to you is really important if you want to be an intuitive eater. 

Hunger has a really important function in the body. Everything you do relies on energy – every movement, every thought. We get this energy from food and for that reason your body drives you to eat. That is hunger.

Your hunger is there to encourage you to take in more energy, and this is why we want to acknowledge it and work with it, not ignore it. 


You function better when you honour your hunger

If you listen to your hunger, honour your hunger, you will give yourself energy when it’s needed, and you’ll feel better!

When we learn to eat intuitively, honouring the hunger and eating, we are teaching the body that it can trust us again. That we won’t put it into a state of famine, and that we will have food available when it wants it.

Diets are a form of famine as far as your body is concerned. It doesn’t know that you are trying to lose weight for a wedding, or that you’re trying to get a beach body. It just knows that you’re cutting its energy sources, restricting the amount it has to work with, and it puts protective measures in place for you. You have to build that trust again.

If you want to know more about how restriction affects the drive to eat, take a look at the post on the binge-restrict pendulum

There are lots of very valid reasons why you might be letting yourself get too hungry.

It’s all about the rules we have set through our time dieting and listening to all those dieting messages that we’re rejecting in principle 1.

  • Believing that hungry is good. 
  • Believing the food is bad for you – thinking it’s not healthy, and hearing messages like ‘should you eat that’?
  • Restriction – only having small amounts of food, or calorie controlling, or eating only at set times
  • Or simply out of habit
  • Only eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full


FYI, there is nothing wrong with grazing. You don’t have to stick to the idea that you should have three meals a day. Your body might just be geared up to eat more often.


What does hunger feel like for you?

We often think that hunger is just a feeling in the stomach, but it is much more than that when you really tune in.

For some it’s:

  • Gurgling or rumbling stomach
  • Lightheadedness
  • Lack of concentration
  • Pain
  • Low mood
  • Headaches
  • Sore throat
  • There could be others for you.


It’s ok to not be able to feel any of them right now. There are many reasons why you might not be able to. 

  • Dieting – diets really do stop us feeling the sensations in our body like we should
  • You’re busy and not thinking about it
  • Past trauma
  • Stress
  • Poor sleep – which is a vicious cycle, because eating well promotes good sleep!


How can you learn to feel hunger again?

There are several things you can do to figure out what hunger feels like for you.

Eat regularly – the body runs out of carbs in a 3-6 hour window (big window, but we’re all unique). You need to top it back up.

Check in with your body regularly to see how it’s feeling, and whether some of the feelings might be indicating that you need to eat.

Start to associate how you feel before and after eating with different hunger levels. 

Get curious – when you start exploring these things you will learn more about your body.

Don't do it alone

I’m here to help, support and guide you. 

Book a free 30 minute session with me and I’ll help you to find a way to start working with the 10 principles of intuitive eating. 

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