Throughout your ZOE plan, you will be asked a set of simple questions each day that will take less than a minute to complete. These questions will help you keep track of your biology. Why do we do this? Well, we believe that it is important to learn how to listen and respond to your body's signals. When you bring more awareness to how your body feels after eating certain foods then you can respond more intentionally. Doing this will help you choose foods that give you energy, rather than drain you of energy. That's why building this awareness and respecting your body's cues can be so powerful.
Hunger is a normal, healthy biological mechanism that tells you that your body is working as it should. Diets generally make it seem like there is an exact amount of calories that you need to eat (and no more), but the reality is that our needs can fluctuate from day-to-day. Listening to your hunger and fullness cues can help you appropriately respond to these changing needs.
By tapping into these internal hunger and fullness cues, you will learn how to choose the amount of food that satisfies you but does not leave you feeling too stuffed to move. This is not based on a specific number of calories but rather based on your biology.
You may be thinking:
"How can I learn to tune into my hunger and fullness cues?"
"How can I know if I am truly hungry?"
One of the best places to start is by checking in on your hunger and fullness cues at various points throughout the day. The Hunger-Fullness scale is a useful tool that can be used to better gauge different levels of hunger and fullness, and how to appropriately respond to them. The scale ranges from 1-10, where each number correlates to a different level of hunger or fullness.
Hunger-Fullness scale (adapted from the Intuitive Eating Workbook by Tribole & Resch, 2017)
It's really easy to use - just take a second to evaluate how you feel, pick the number on the scale that most fits that and use that as a guide to help you make intentional choices about food.
Ideally, you should eat something when you start to notice hunger (when you still feel good enough to make rational, intentional choices about food). There’s no right or wrong when it comes to where you should stop, but it’s good to aim for when you start to notice comfortable fullness. This is a point where you will feel satisfied and energized until your next meal or snack.
There may be times where you might end up feeling overly full - that’s fine! Other times, you might just miss the mark and wish you had eaten more food - that’s fine too! Instead of viewing it as something that you might 'pass' or 'fail,' you can use it to guide you as you make the best choices for you.
Your energy levels can fluctuate quite a bit over the course of the day and are influenced by a number of factors including sleep and stress, as well as food. Maintaining energy fuels your body in order to help you complete your daily tasks and thrive. The best foods to maintain stable energy levels throughout the day are those that contribute to steady blood sugar levels, as large blood sugar peaks and dips can leave you feeling tired.
We've outlined a few questions below that you can ask yourself as you keep track of how food intake impacts your energy levels. You can use these questions to get a better idea of what foods might give you longer-lasting energy, which leave you feeling fatigued, and how your energy levels change over the course of the ZOE Program.
- Notice how you feel after a meal. Do you feel sluggish? Do you feel energized, but crash an hour later?
- When do you feel most energetic?
- What times of the day do you tend to feel tired?
- Are there any foods that give you longer-lasting energy?
- If you feel tired during the day, ask yourself "When did I last eat something?" and "What did I eat?"
Pooping habits 💩
Regular bowel movements are a key sign of good health. While healthy pooping habits will vary from person to person, you should monitor any changes in the smell, firmness, frequency, or color of your poop as it can indicate there is a problem. Healthy poop should be fairly consistent in its characteristics.
There are a number of things that you can look out for as you keep track of your bowel habits and how they might improve throughout the ZOE plan including color, smell, ease of passing, texture, and frequency. As a reference point, normal, healthy poop is generally:
- Medium to dark brown in color
- Pain-free and easy to pass
- Soft to firm in texture, passed in one single piece or a few smaller pieces (type 3 and 4 in the Bristol stool chart)
- Passed once or twice daily (although this differs between individuals, at a minimum we should pass stool three times a week)
Which cues will you listen to?
At ZOE we know that one size doesn't fit all. You may be more interested in your hunger levels to help you reach your goals, or you may be interested in building up your microbiome health and want to pay attention to your pooping habits. Perhaps your main focus is to minimize that afternoon slump. Take a moment to reflect on which of these matter the most to you. You'll be able to log your reflections daily in the app.