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Never Eat When You Are Hungry

Longtime readers may recall a post explaining why hunger makes you eat crap.

Understanding this, is an important principle to promote healthy eating and weight management (not necessarily the same).

To make this message somewhat easier to communicate, I produced this brief video, which hopefully brings this very simple but important point across (subscribers may have to visit my site to view this video).

Very much appreciate your comments and please feel free to repost.

Leipzig, Germany


  1. Excellent video, Dr. Sharma!!

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  2. I would rather say: Eat enough (in time and quantity) so you get never too much hungry

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  3. Very nicely done!

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  4. Excellent, it moves fast for laypeople, but it is encouraging and informative. Keep them coming!

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  5. All too true!

    The way I say it is “Don’t wait until you get hungry to eat!” or “Don’t let yourself get too hungry!”

    When I’m not excessively hungry, I am able to make healthy choices. When I get too hungry, all bets are off!

    This is why I make sure to eat every 3-4 hours, making sure to get some protein each time.

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  6. Agree with Rhodia. Don’t wait until you’re starving to eat.

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  7. Where do the cravings/hunger produced by mineral and vitamin deficiencies; food allergies/effects, what ever you call then; and insulin resistance, hyperinsulinemia, internal starvation, carbohydrate intolerance group issues fit into the problem?

    Those of us who deal with these in our lives are just being ignored, as if we are the problem, of it is all in our heads.

    I live hungry, that is my life. The other choice is continual eating and obesity.

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  8. Wow. That’s not true of me at all. When I get very hungry and am away from home, I have trouble deciding what to eat and become almost orthorexic. I can end up wandering around feeling confused and irritable, and nothing that I see seems like the perfect thing. When I’m at home, I always eat at meal times and rarely get hungry enough to get (what I assume is) low blood sugar. If I’m too hungry to think straight at meal time, I just eat a handfull of nuts or some cheese and crackers before deciding what to cook.

    I don’t eat “junk food” very often. When I’m hungrier, I just eat more of what I usually eat, which is generally homemade and balanced. I don’t understand why anyone would want to eat “crap” when very hungry, unless by “crap,” you mean “anything with calories.” Junk food doesn’t taste very good, and it doesn’t give a good-quality energy boost, either. But something healthy and filling? Sure.

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  9. I would say this recommendation has been one of the top 3 tools that allowed for me to lose my weight and maintain my loss over a 4 year period. To accomplish this goal(not getting hungry)I had to alter my approach to my diet both mentally and physically each day. It required a great deal of physical planning and mental work to be successful. That meant always eating often and wisely to prevent hunger from setting in and continually thinking about what food I have on hand, what I need to make, buy etc. During this time I relied upon the clock to time my meals and snacks. I could not depend upon my internal system to gauge this properly. My internal messages certainly weren’t working to tell me when I was full or satisfied so why rely on it to tell me when I felt I should eat. 4 years later I still rely on watching the clock to time my meal intervals. It works great when I can control my schedule. After doing this habit for 4 years it does becomes easier to accomplish. Like the person that wakes up at 7:00am on the dot without his alarm clock, I can come very close to knowing the time of day based on how I feeling or thinking about food. Hunger, I think, has many stages- you feel a little peckish, you feel its time to eat, you are getting pretty hungry, to the full blown starving and ready to eat just about anything. After 4 years I can stay in control of my eating during the first stages but look out when I get to really hungry or starving. I still overeat when I reach those stages. So as you can see it is an on-going balancing act for me, one which requires daily attention.

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  10. For me, maintaining a 40-pound loss from my highest weight involves “never saying never” — having a flexible set of guidelines that allow me to make pretty good decisions at a variety of hunger levels.
    We sometimes find ourselves in situations where we can’t control when or whether we get hungry, and what choices are available to us. Say you are traveling, and you bring food with you but get delayed — your choice might be to eat something less than desirable (not to mention not very healthy OR delicious) or to wait and allow yourself to get hungry until you can locate food that is more in line with what is best for your body.
    I think that for people who have dieted and deprived themselves of food, often under the auspices of prior dieting advice such as “don’t eat if you AREN’T hungry” — the hunger and satiety clues need to be re-attuned. I think advice such as that offered by Elyse Resch, that it’s probably best to eat when hunger is at a level of between 4-6 on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being completely not hungry and 10 being the most hungry you’ve ever experienced.
    I find eating when I’m not hungry leads to eating for hedonic rather than health-guided clues because “real food” tastes better to me than crap when I’m at a 5-8 on the hunger scale. Above 8, I’m likely to eat past satiety and/or want choices that are higher in fat and easily digested carbs, but eating less than a level 3-4 is unpleasant to me — I would rather not eat at all.

    I have just gotten back from a trip to a few time zones away and found that I definitely did best eating a little when I was at level 4 — and waiting until I was at level 7 for a more substantial meal. I made the best choices for me, and found that I didn’t have room for dessert when it was offered. And while I was away from home and my kitchen for 4 days, my weight didn’t change one bit.

    I think “don’t eat when you are hungry” is a bit confusing. “Eat before you get too hungry” is better — because if you find yourself in a situation where you are hungry — then what? Just tolerate the hunger until it subsides and then eat? How does that help stabilize blood sugar, and allow for a healthy distribution of calories throughout the day?

    One last thing — self-care can be hard for people who have been told they are to blame for their own problems. Encouraging people struggling with eating and hunger to take a proactive approach to their own needs when it comes to hunger the way they would for someone they loved and were looking after — a child or even a pet — might be good. I know that when I plan for my daughter and provide her with food options before she is too hungry, she eats better and feels better and, frankly, behaves better. But if I allow her to eat in a way so she never gets hungry, she might behave okay, but her drive to eat foods that aren’t just tasty isn’t the same. She is way more likely to eat fruits and vegetables and lean protein if I offer those things when she is at a 6-7 hunger than when she’s at a level 4. She’s slim, and likely will continue to be as she’s inherited her dad’s build. But I want her to be a competent eater.

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  11. In order to not get too hungry, I have to avoid evening TV – all those food and fast food ads make me salivate like Pavlov’s dogs!

    Those admen do a great job making me hungry, even if I just ate dinner. Gotta give them kudos for doing their job well.
    I don’t get hungry enough to hunt & kill & eat my prey raw, but I’ll definitely go to the fridge, or if necessary, even go out to the corner store for junk food or go to the nearest drive-through.

    No ads, no ad-triggered hunger – there are better things to do than watch food ads and eat.

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  12. Excellent Video Arya. It’s simple, great music, clear messages and brief. I am always inspired how you continually engage in new social media methods to get your message across.

    It is a high health literacy. Any way you could replace Hedonic with something simple like “pleasure”? t

    thanks for sharing

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  13. Great video Arya! For completion sake I’d like to include cues, priming (bet you can’t eat just one) and emotions as the other drivers of the hedonic system. I find focusing on strategies to manage the hedonic drive to hyperpalatable foods an excellent foundation to any weight loss strategy!

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