Honouring your hunger cues as a Mother


In clinic, I see many busy mothers struggling to eat enough (or eat much at all) during the day.

You feed everyone else first. You do everything for others, first. We do this often enough then our internal feedback of hunger and fullness becomes confused.

If we wait too long to eat, we then become hangry and ravenous. This can lead to binge eating.

There is so much attention given to over-eating but little attention given to UNDER eating.

There are many reasons for under eating:

  • Stress

  • Busy life (hello, mothers!)

  • Illness

  • Fad dieting

  • Traumatic event

  • Over-exercising and not adjusting intake to match

Over time this can wreak havoc on our body - dysregulated eating, thyroid issues and a disconnected relationship with food as you deny the messages your body is trying to communicate.

Our bodies are always speaking to us. My daughter asked the other day if animals talk or if trees talk. I explained they may not communicate in the words we use but they do communicate. This may be much more subtle like sounds or vibrations. Our bodies are not so dissimilar to nature. 

Our bodies communicate in oh so subtle ways. This is why it is so important to be still so we can listen to these feelings and sensations.

As a busy mother, I get that it is not always possible to find this still point in the day. Breathing helps - this is something I am able to do. I try to build this into my day at regular intervals. Once you are still, then try and notice what you feel in the moment.

What does hungry feel like?

As we push through and ignore our hungry cues, it becomes harder to connect them.

In a blog post on the subject, Crystal Karges helpfully referred to the signs exhibited by a baby to communicate hunger which might include:

  • Rooting

  • Opening their mouth

  • Sucking on their fingers

  • Smacking lips

When parents are responsive to these early feeding signs and offer baby nourishment at the early signs of hunger, feeding usually goes smoother.

Whereas, if we don’t respond to these feeding cues, which are signs of hunger, it will usually escalate to crying. By this point, baby is trying to communicate that they are in need of food, NOW.

Our hunger cues can include:

  • Beginning to think about food

  • Growling noises

  • A gnawing feeling in your stomach

  • Difficulty concentrating

  • Tired

  • Faintness

  • Headache

  • Irritable 

    An ultimate act of self care is in honouring these hunger signals. How do you do this? By nourishing yourself and not waiting until things escalate to some of the above more extreme hunger cues. Once you learn the language of YOUR body you can know ahead of time how to prepare. This can allow you to begin to rebuild trust with your body and food.


Physical symptoms of not eating enough can include:

  • Low energy levels and constantly feeling tired or exhausted

  • Regularly constipated

  • Constantly hungry

  • Moody and irritated easily

  • Poor mental concentration

  • Dizziness

  • Loss of period or normal menstrual function

  • Inability to get pregnant

  • Constantly thirsty

  • Constantly feeling cold

  • Hair loss and brittle nails

  • Pale complexion

Our body has an innate intelligence and will give you all the signs of a thriving body - you will feel energised, vibrant, comfortable in your skin - often a result of eating the right foods for YOU, as compared to depleted body which will also be made known to you - some of the symptoms listed above may be felt.

How can we practically answer our hunger cues?

I am all about the HOW in my clinic.

It may mean planning ahead and keeping easy and nourishing snacks accessible.

Or it may mean mentally creating time or physically penciling it in on your calendar to check in with yourself and what your body is needing.

I often suggest to my mother clients to sit down and eat with the kids. It sets a great example to you children - they see meal time as a safe space to re-group, re-calibrate and connect. Not another thing in the day to race through before onto the next.