Happy Labor Day! If you have the day off work, we hope that you enjoy the picnics, barbeques, parades, and fireworks. If you’re still going to work on Labor Day (yay retail workers, police, healthcare and more!), thank you for making the day enjoyable and safe. 

Fun fact:

According to History.com, Labor Day is always on a Monday so that more workers can enjoy 3-day weekends. It’s a day to celebrate anyone who works, and we know that includes a lot of our clients! 

OK, on to the meat of this article. You’ve been working on your nutrition. You are finally in a groove with back-to-school, turning the page from summer to fall, ready to buckle down before winter holidays. You. Are. On. A. Roll!  And then this federal holiday hits and messes up your routine. Great. 

I was being sarcastic, but it IS great! Holidays, like Labor Day, are opportunities for practicing intuitive eating. It’s like a mini litmus test to see what you would do if there weren’t any rules. Remember that the goal is long-term behavior change, not quick weight loss. We want healthy habits to become second nature, so you barely even have to think about them.

We get to that “second nature” part by practicing intuitive eating. Here’s a refresher on intuitive eating. It’s all about listening to your body and giving it what it needs to be healthy and happy. One tool that we use for intuitive eating is called the Hunger Scale. 

The Hunger Scale ranges from 1-10 and looks like this: 

1 – You are so hungry that all you can think about is food. It’s affecting you physically. You might feel weak or dizzy

2- You’re still VERY hungry, but it’s not to the point of being ravenous

3- You’re clearly hungry. Your stomach growled.

4- Your stomach isn’t growling, but you have room and an appetite to eat

5- Neutral

6- You’re feeling full, but you still have room and an appetite to eat

7- You’re full and satisfied

8- You’re full and it’s starting to feel a bit uncomfortable

9- You’re feeling stuffed and VERY uncomfortable, but you don’t physically feel sick. 

10- You clearly overdid it. You feel physically sick. Maybe even nauseous.

The goal is to not let yourself get so hungry that you fall below a 3. You want to start eating around a 3 or a 4. This is hard for a lot of people because you are used to “tuning out” your hunger cues. You might not even notice you’re hungry until you’re at a 1 or a 2. It’s okay- you’ll get better at intuitive eating the more you practice it. 

On the flip side, you want to stop eating when you’re at a 7 (full and satisfied). If you’ve been trained to eat everything on your plate, then you are used to “tuning out” your fullness cues. Slowing down while eating, drinking sips of water in between bites, and chewing food thoroughly give your brain enough time to register the feeling of fullness. 

See how intuitive eating with the Hunger Scale is helpful? You don’t need to measure out portion sizes or worry as much about the kind of food that you’re eating. All you need is your body and some mindfulness.

On Labor Day, you might not have control over what your best friend brings to your potluck, but you can choose to honor your body’s hunger and fullness cues. For more tips on how to have a healthy holiday, check out 8 Tips for Staying Healthy During the Holidays. Even though it was originally published in December, I think you’ll find the advice relevant and helpful for Labor Day.