Episode #57: The Hunger Tool

May 02, 2023

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When it comes to losing weight, I don’t want working moms to have to measure out food, use calculators, apps, and points to fuel their body on this journey. Losing weight with ease is possible, and once you understand The Hunger Tool and how to use it, you’ll be able to reach your ideal weight without counting calories.

I can’t believe we’ve gotten a year into this podcast without me talking about The Hunger Tool. The Hunger Tool is one of the core principles I use with my Unstoppable clients to help them reach and maintain their ideal weight. So, in this week’s episode, I’m giving you an insight into the nuts and bolts of what I teach about hunger and satiety inside The Unstoppable Group.

Tune in this week to change your relationship with hunger. I’m giving you a framework that will give you a deeper understanding of hunger in your body, and showing you how to use The Hunger Tool to help you stop overeating and reach your ideal weight.



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The Unstoppable Group is my intimate six-month coaching experiencing for high-achieving working moms who want to lose weight without a calculator. The next group starts in July of 2023, and enrollment opens on Sunday, May 21, 2023. Click here to learn more and get on the waitlist.   



What You’ll Learn from this Episode:


  • How I used to think about hunger before I learned the Hunger Tool.
  • The lessons we’ve learned from our families of origin and our society that have perverted our relationship with hunger.
  • What it means to change your relationship with hunger and why this is one of the core principles for losing weight with ease.
  • How you might currently be unintentionally villainizing the feeling of hunger.
  • 4 things that might be stopping you from having a deeper relationship with your body and your experience of hunger.
  • How to use The Hunger Tool so you can reach your ideal weight without counting calories.


Listen to the Full Episode:



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Full Episode Transcript:

Click here to download the full transcript


  • Hey, this is Dr. Priyanka Venugopal, and you're listening to The Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast, Episode 57, The Hunger Tool. I can't believe that we have gotten this far along in the podcast journey, and I have never actually talked about The Hunger Tool. This is truly one of my core principles. This is something that normally I just teach my Unstoppable clients, but I also wanted to share some of the nuts and bolts of really how I teach and talk about hunger and see tidy inside The Unstoppable Group.

    Now, if you have been following along this podcast for a while, then you know that I really hate calculators and apps and points and calories, and I don't want any working moms measuring food or using points, calories, or apps to fuel their body deliciously well. I'm on a mission for working moms to lose weight without a calculator, and I think that this is one of the core principles.

    So I hope you enjoy today's episode. It is short and sweet, really teaching you the nuts and bolts of one of the core frameworks that I think is going to help you lose weight with so much more ease. I hope you enjoy today's episode. If you want to reach your ideal weight and create lightness for your body, you need to have simplicity, joy, and strategic decisions infused into your life.

    I'm a physician turned life and weight loss coach for ambitious working moms. I've lost over 60 pounds without counting points, calories, or crazy exercise plans. Most importantly, I feel calm and light on the scale and in my life. There's some delicious magic when you learn this work and the skills I'm going to be teaching you. Ready?

    Let's get to it.

    So, traditionally when I think about what my relationship with hunger used to be before I lost the weight, before I reached my ideal weight. I would say it was fairly contentious. I used to worry about getting hungry in the future. I used to worry about what I was going to eat, so I didn't get hungry. And I think that a lot of this, and a lot of us that have had this kind of story around hunger is, it's not uncommon, I would say for most of us, we've learned at a really young age to kind of fear hunger.

    Now when you really think about what hunger actually is, it's really just a natural signal. It's a natural signal in our body. It's a natural sensation simply saying, Hey, I would like to eat right now. But what has happened over the years, probably since the age of like two and three, is over time from messaging, we have learned from our families of origin and from society, we have kind of perverted our relationship with this very normal and natural sensation. 

    And the intention of today's episode and really what I want to share here is that one of the core principles in reaching your ideal weight and losing weight with ease is going to be to change your relationship with hunger. And also to really understand that it's possible to think of hunger differently.

    So the way that I like to think about hunger, the way that I teach about hunger is different than maybe what you have heard about before. If you have ever thought about pitting, hunger and say tidy on opposite sides of a spectrum, then you are very naturally villainizing hunger, right? So let's just, for the purpose of this episode, imagine that you have a scale, a scale of one to 10, and this is what I call the hunger tool.

    Using the scale of one to 10, where 10 is ravenously hungry and a one is maybe not hungry at all. I would say for most high achievers. For most busy moms, you're familiar with either end of the spectrum. You're familiar with what like a whisper of hunger feels like, or like when you're just like barely hungry and you don't know anything in between from that to getting too ravenously hungry.

    I mean, I feel like this is something that I know I have experienced time and time again. I think that so many high achieving busy moms also experience this. But I want you to know that there's a broad, broad range in between. If you think about this scale from one to 10, imagine what it would be like if you got to know your body, the sensation of grumble, and what it feels like on any and every part of the scale.

    So what might the slightest whisper of hunger feel like in your body physically? Like if you had to actually describe it to a small child and they came to me like, what is hunger? Like, I'm so confused. Like what is hunger actually? Imagine how you would explain this to a small child, a three or four year old.

    The way that I might describe it is I feel the sensation in my upper gut, and it feels like a little grumbling motion. That might be what a whisper feels like. And then I want you to imagine what it would be like if you got to a three and then a four and then a five. And as you can see going up the scale, what it might feel like for you to get to the next number, to intensify the sensation of hunger.

    And imagine for each of these numbers on the scale, you were describing it scientifically to a child, and now imagine getting to a ten. So the way that I would describe Ravenously hungry to a child is like, oh my gosh, my stomach is grumbling around and I feel like really big rolling movements. I might sometimes hear a sound I, and like the sound is like a growling sound and I feel it in my upper belly.

    And I want you to notice that the way that I'm describing even ravenously hungry to a three or four year old is not scary. Okay, let me say this part again. Normally, when we imagine ourselves experiencing hunger, remember the contentious relationship I talked about, we make it very dramatic. Like, I can't believe, I don't wanna get hungry.

    It's gonna be terrible. I don't want to feel hunger in the future. It's so bad. I would never tell a three or four year old child about hunger in that way. It's very scary, right? To think about experiencing intense hunger in that way and what that does, that kind of fear around hunger, actually prevents us from getting to know our bodies, getting to actually know hunger, and then responding to it in a way that is proportionate, that actually makes sense.

    So, Let's come back to how would we describe every level of hunger to a three or four year old child without scaring them? Where we kept it playful, where we kept it scientific, where we kept it simple. Would you imagine what that would be like for you? And then once we've done this, and this might be hard, I actually, before I even get into more about the scale, and actually the next step, I wanna actually tell you there's a few caveats that really might make this challenging for you.

    And if it is, don't worry. You're not alone. There are a few things, and there's probably about four caveats that I can think of that might get in the way of you knowing and deeply having a relationship with your body and your experience of hunger. The very first and foremost thing, this is the most common one, is if you have been in the practice of consuming a lot of highly processed foods like flour and sugar, it has made your body a sugar burner.

    I talked about this in a lot more detail in one of my earlier episodes called The Truth About Flour and Sugar. I highly recommend you go and listen to that. I don't wanna recap the whole thing, but in a nutshell, when you're consuming highly processed foods like flour and sugar, specifically like modified from the industrialized food industry, like I'm talking about things that are broken down, milled into a powder, and then turned into food.

    Our body has certain chemical responses when she is consuming foods like that. We have huge spikes in our insulin, which is a fat storage hormone. And of course, also what happens on the side is there's a huge spike of dopamine and endorphins, which keeps your brain and your body craving those foods. We want to eat more.

    We have a lot more hunger. We have a lot more desire, and so sometimes, simply just that consumption of processed foods is going to make you feel hungry a lot more than you naturally would be if you were not consuming those foods. I want you to really think about, and I've, I've mentioned this example before, but how does it make any sense that we have plenty of resources stored in our body, in the form of fat, and yet we feel hungry or maybe even hangry all the time?

    Are you familiar with this? Like how is it even possible? Why would we feel so much hunger all the time? If we have so much resources stored in our body, it's because our body has not gotten used to and is very efficient at burning fat for fuel. So if this is interesting to you, if a caveat one you think applies to you, make sure you go and check out that episode.

    And honestly, a quick solution to that is take a break. Take a break from flour and sugar for two to three weeks, and you'll see your, your body will start to reverse some of this process. So it's incredibly simple to do. You just have to commit to doing it, and it will feel incredibly good for you.

    Another caveat that I wanna tell you is going to drive up hunger when your body's not actually hungry, is if you're experiencing high levels of stress. So again, I mentioned this because again, high achieving working moms, busy working moms, I feel like, I imagine there's like a low drip of cortisol, you know, coursing through your body.

    You have low doses of stress. In your life often and all the time, and what I want you to know is when your body is experiencing stress, think about like your body doesn't know the difference. When you think back to primitive times, your body doesn't know the difference between like a spreadsheet disaster and a line outside the cave or your boss saying, you know, certain words to you at a meeting and the bear that's about to eat you.

    When you experience stress and your fight flight systems in your body are [00:09:00] activated, your very primitive, reflexive, beautiful brain is like, listen, we probably need to store resources, and she will do this in the form of driving up hunger, making you hungrier and hungrier. So whenever you have a drive up of stress hormones in your body, you're going to experience more hunger.

    I want you to know that that's normal, and the solution to that is to learn other skills, additional skills, which you talk about on this podcast, on how to manage your stress. But I want you to know just for the purpose of this episode, that stress, if you have high levels of it, it's going to drive up hunger, and I just want you to be aware of it.

    The third caveat that I want you to know that is going to play a role is simply your long history of what your relationship with hunger has been like. If you have feared getting hungry, if you've been taught when you were like a child, you know, eat up your whole breakfast now because we don't want you to get hungry later.

    Right? Just think about what that message is implying, right? It's kind of implying like we don't wanna get hungry later as though getting hungry later is a massive problem. And I know because I still do this sometimes, especially with my daughter, I'm like, listen, eat your breakfast. We don't want you to get hungry later.

    I found myself doing this even on our trip in India, which I talked to all about last week. It's something that is so reflexive, but it's something that we can start to catch and start to change. But it is one of those caveats that will block you from really understanding your body, getting to know your body, and getting to really learn about the different levels of hunger that will help make weight loss easier.

    The last thing, and this is something I'm going to kind of just touch on quickly, is oftentimes if you're thirsty, if you're not drinking enough water, it will signal to you as hunger. You might not feel parched in your throat. You might not feel thirsty. It might manifest as hunger. And so the way you know whether or not you're drinking enough water, this is what I used to tell my patients in my OB/Gyn practice, but I'm gonna just share it here instead of just quantifying, you know, drinking 80 to a hundred ounces of water per day for women, that's kind of a standard amount. It's a lot more water than probably you're used to, but when you pee, is your pee light and clear. Again, we don't, we don't have to have numbers and calculators and like measuring water bottles.

    So that's one strategy. When you pee, is your pee light and clear. If it's not, you're likely not drinking enough water. And that will be a block for you to really understand the difference between true hunger, real hunger that your body's experiencing, and kind of this false facade of something that's not true hunger.

    So I wanna just cover those four caveats quickly because I think it's important to know that there are actual roadblocks and actual obstacles for you to do this work. And if you understand what those caveats are, you can start to make pivots and solutions for them. But let's get back to the intention of this episode, really talking to you about The Hunger Tool.

    And again, what I'm sharing with you on this podcast is the broad strokes, the nuts and bolts of how you can utilize hunger and understand hunger, really to understand your body, right? If you think about what I teach in Unstoppable, what I want for working moms is I want you to lose weight without a calculator.

    I want you to know you don't have to track a calorie. You don't have to ever measure food again. You can just get rid of all of that. And simply know that your body is telling you in real time, taking those four caveats into account, your body will tell you in real time when she actually wants to eat.

    That's the whole point of the hunger tool. And to really listen to this natural signal of our body, we have to change our relationship with hunger. We have to know that hunger is not an emergency for most of us listening to this podcast. So let's just create safety right now before moving forward in this podcast.

    If you are someone that can look around. That has access to a kitchen, that has access to restaurants, that has access to a grocery store, then you can now forevermore remind yourself that you are safe and that your food needs will be met. Your hunger will be taken care of. You don't ever, ever, ever have to fear it or worry about it ever again.

    I really want to emphasize that it's important to show your brain, remind yourself that you are in fact, okay. I think that this is something that is a common trend for so many of us, is we really go very quickly to fear because we haven't created safety. So I want you to really be very, very logical, very scientific look around.

    And remind yourself you have access to the cafeteria, the grocery store, your kitchen, the pantry. You can always get in your car and order something we're in, you know... Now in the day of technology, you can probably open up an app on your phone and order food right to your doorstep. So now moving forward, you can actually just remind yourself, I don't ever have to fear hunger.

    I'm totally taken care of. Food is always going to be available to me. I think it's important to bring that safety in first and then only do this work. If you don't feel safety around hunger, if you don't feel like your basic needs are being met, then I think that this episode would not be for you. This wouldn't really make sense for you.

    But I would say for most of us that are listening, that if we can first create safety to remind yourself you are in fact, okay, you have these resources, you are taken care of, then we can actually do this work a little bit more powerfully. So once we have done that, once we have created safety, once you have really thought about the fact that your needs will always be met, I want to invite you to make a decision.

    This is the decision that I talked about last week. This is my one agreement. I have one agreement, well one and a half agreements with myself, and I want to have you join me on this ride. The agreement is that I will only ever eat when I'm actually hungry. And I only eat foods that I really like, so those are kinda like my one and a half agreements.

    I only eat food that I actually think is delicious. I will not eat food that I don't like. And the most important rule that I always follow, I have it in my back pocket no matter where I'm traveling in the world. No matter how busy I am, no matter how free I am, no matter how bored or overwhelmed I am, I will only eat when I'm actually physically hungry.

    Now, I shared with you last week that this is my general principle for practice, but that being said, sometimes it won't go perfectly. Sometimes you might eat because you're bored. You might eat because an old habit comes up and you feel overwhelmed and you stress eat right. Stress eating or emotional eating.

    You might just eat because everyone around you is eating. There are numerous reasons that you won't follow this perfectly. That's okay. We just want to observe them and get to know those reasons, and that's what really coaching is all about. But for the purpose of this episode, the very first step we did was we create safety to recognize you have resources around you. 

    You don't have to fear hunger anymore to know that there might be certain obstacles for you in your unique life that might block you from getting to know hunger. If you've not been drinking enough water, if you have been stressed, not getting enough sleep, you're in a state of stress often. 

    If you've been eating a lot of highly processed foods like flour and sugar, and very importantly, if you've had a relationship of fear up until now, those might be obstacles and roadblocks for you to navigate. So knowing all of that, now, what exactly is the hunger tool? I think about the hunger tool as the most natural way to decide when and how we eat.

    So I won't ever use points, calories, or apps. I won't measure my food. I won't look at the quantity of food I'm eating. I simply use my gut, my natural signal in real time to tell me that I'm hungry and tell me when I'm done. And the way that I like to describe this is I like to describe all of us as having our own personal yummy hunger levels.

    So for me, if you think about a scale of one to 10, where one is the slightest whisper of hunger and 10 is ravenously hungry, I really like to get my body two quite hungry. I love to feel that grumble of hunger. I love for my body to feel light. And honestly, I find that number one food just tastes better when I'm actually hungry.

    I feel like my body feels lighter, I feel more energized. I feel less fatigue when I eat in this way. So there's numerous side benefits. In addition to me maintaining and losing weight with simple ease and without a calculator, I actually have more energy. I feel just so much better in my mind and in my body when I eat in this way.

    And so for me, my yummy hunger level is like a six or seven. I really like to get to nice and hungry. I like to feel that slight grumble in my belly when I decide to eat. Now, just because I decided that's my yummy hunger level, doesn't mean that that's yours. So I want you to think about taking the next week and going on a beautiful playing expedition.

    Really get to know the different levels of hunger. What does a whisper feel like? What does a slight grumble feel like? And really do the work of becoming intentional with your body, almost scientific and curious and playful, and really describe what different levels of hunger feel like for you. And then once you've gotten to know, what does a one feel like?

    What does a five feel like? What does a seven feel like? Constantly reminding yourself that you're totally okay. You're taken care of. There's going to be amazing food that you're going to eat. You don't have to worry, really reminding yourself of that. Then you get to decide what you want your yummy hunger level to be?

    What do you want to get to for your agreement where this is how hungry you want to be whenever you eat. I think that, you know, one of the biggest things that gets in the way of this is really thinking that grumble of hunger is an emergency because it does feel emergent, right? When you feel that grumble, it feels emergent.

    But you have to remind yourself that most of us have plenty of resources stored on our body. And so even if you get to your yummy hunger level, let's say you're at that yummy hunger level and you're in the middle of like a three hour meeting or you're in the OR and you have like a six hour long surgery, I want you to really think about how you want to handle that in your mind.

    If you did get to your yummy hunger level, you didn't want to pre-eat to avoid future hunger, how would you want to think about it? The way that I like to think about it, if I'm hungry and I'm on a long flight and I have no food, if I was in the OR, or if I have a long stretch of meetings, is my body is just getting to dine in right now.

    It's not a problem. I have plenty of resources in the form of fat stored on my body. That's what it's there for. My body is just going to dine in. It's not at all an emergency, and as soon as I'm done with this meeting, as soon as I'm out of the OR, as soon as I'm off this flight, I will absolutely eat. It's not a problem just doing this work and really practicing this, this way of thinking, this way of responding to your hunger, this way of responding to your thoughts about hunger is going to give you so much more freedom around how you eat when you eat. And honestly, I think that the other piece of this is knowing that you can play with this. I mentioned this a little bit in last week's episode, but I think a big one, especially for working moms, is you want to maybe have dinner with the family, but like what if you're not at your yummy hunger level then? 

    I want you to really think about how you would solve this. So I mentioned kind of an example of this is, but if you know you want to be hungry, we wanna get to your yummy hunger level by the time you get to dinner, so you can eat dinner with your family and your partner and your loved ones, how would you eat during the day to make that happen?

    You might not eat the biggest lunch, or you might eat earlier in the day, or you might have something small or you might eat different ingredients so that when you got to that, that dinner that you want to be hungry for with your family, you actually feel hungry. What you'll notice and what a lot of my clients notice when they actually follow the hunger tool, they actually eat when they're hungry.

    They stop when they're not. You'll be eating a lot less food than what you're used to. And this can be shocking. You'll be surprised how much more food humans are eating, particularly when you struggle with your weight. You're eating a lot more food than your body actually needs. And so this is kind of what I think of as like a natural reset.

    It's a natural way, like it's like a natural signal that we haven't paid attention to forever that we're simply starting to pay attention to starting now. I really wanted to share this hunger tool with you because I think that sometimes we are like, but how do I actually start implementing listening to my body?

    It is like this. It is just to know that you might have some obstacles in the way because of your old habits. It's not a problem. And to know that those old habits have come because of how you were raised, what society has taught you about hunger, and also know that you can change these habits, you can change the habit of overeating.

    But it starts here by getting super curious, almost scientific with the sensation of hunger, getting to know it. Get to know what a one feels like, what a three feels like, what a seven feels like, what a 10 feels like, and don't be afraid of it anymore. Remind yourself that you're safe, that you have plenty of resources.

    It's never an emergency. Your body can always dine in on the excess, and you'll always feed yourself at the earliest convenience. This is seriously something that does create incredible freedom because you can take this with you anywhere. You don't need to have apps and calorie counters and macros anywhere you ever go.

    You can go to your favorite restaurants, like I shared in last week's episode. You can be in a fine dining experience or you could be having the busiest work week if you [00:22:00] have an agreement that you will only eat when you're hungry. You'll never treat your body like a trash can. I promise you, it makes this work so much easier.

    I really, really hope you enjoyed this concept today, and you enjoyed this broad overview of the Hunger Tool. It is going to change everything. If you are enjoying this podcast, I would absolutely love it if you joined me on my email list. This is really where I share a lot of strategies and really the very first time that I ever talk about free training I'm doing, or anything new that I'm doing comes to my email list.

    So you can join my email list over at theunstoppablemombrain.com/magic, and you'll be the first to know, because I have some awesome things coming soon, and I want you to be the first to know. I will see you all next week. Bye. If you want to work with me, listen up. The Unstoppable Group is my intimate six month coaching experience for high achieving working moms who want to lose weight without a calculator.

    My next group is starting in July of 2023. And enrollment is opening on Sunday, May 21st. You heard that right? It is coming soon. Sunday, May 21st is when enrollment is opening. So if you have wanted to work with me, I want you to start preparing now. You can join the waitlist and learn more about this group over at theunstoppablemombrain.com/group.

    When you're on this list, you will get all of the details for exactly how to enroll on May 21st and how we're going to work together. I cannot wait to see you there and I'll see you next week. Bye. Thanks for listening to The Unstoppable Mom Brain Podcast. It's been an honor spending this time with you and your brilliant brain.

    If you want more resources or information from the show, head on over to theunstoppablemombrain.com.


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