So, as promised, here are the seven levels of hunger, as described by me, with special consideration for the fact that I've never been truly deprived of food, starving, or anything close to it, so I'm going with *my* levels, which is sort of a stereo-typical American kind of hunger, not the serious, world-crippling hunger present in all the world where people can't afford to feed themselves.*
1- Not really hungry. This is that point at which he thought of food doesn't inspire nausea or dread, nor does it inspire excitement or joy. You could eat, but could wait. You have no specific cravings. Anything would be ok. I spend much too much time at this level when I have a regulated schedule that tells me when it's time to eat. Snacks are safe from you.
2- Kind of hungry. Food sounds good. Maybe a little twinge in the tummy, but still mostly a mental kind of hunger. You start to think about options--what did you bring for lunch? What's in the pantry or freezer than you can put together? You ask around to see if other folks are hungry to make plans for communal dining. Snacks aren't really appealing because a meal is on the way.
3- Hungry. Your stomach starts to gurgle at you. You begin imagining all the glorious food that's waiting for you, someday. Not just the lunch in the fridge, but the restaurant down the street, and the one you passed on the way to your mother-in-law's house that looked good. You plan future meals and daydream up recipes. You tell people what sounds good, hoping to entice them to join you. If there were a snack available, you would eat it right now.
4- Really Hungry. Your stomach is sending messages in morse code that you can't decipher, but are pretty sure sound just like the plant in Little Shop of Horrors: FEED ME! You fantasize about all your favorite foods and can't stop looking at the clock to see when you'll be free to eat. You don't care if anyone else is available, you're going to eat as soon as possible, with or without them. Snacks wouldn't last long in your presence.
5- Hungry, Hungry Hippo. Your stomach isn't content being the only organ not-content. Your head is starting to feel the effects with a peculiar ache. All the food sounds good. Every tasty thing you've ever encountered comes to mind and making choices becomes difficult. You could eat anything, because everything sounds good. Even foods you usually don't like start to look appealing, but you probably wouldn't go as far as to actually eat them, just acknowledge that other people aren't totally disgusting for eating it in the first place. You would eat a snack in record speed.
6- Famished. Shaky and cranky. Nothing that isn't food really matters. You may be unaware that you're behaving like bad-tempered snapping turtle because most of your brain is still engineering meals in the background while you work with the remaining 2.5% and we all know that isn't enough to manage tact, vocabulary, motor skills and breathing all at the same time. No snack is safe from you. If you had a snack, you would have eaten it hours ago, and wouldn't even be here. If offered a snack at this point, you may not be smart enough to know that you really, really need it.
7- Ravenous. Food doesn't even sound good anymore. Your stomach is now telling you that you're queasy, which makes the thought of eating make you eve queasier. Your brain has stopped being rational. Weakness sets in. You know you should eat, but don't have the energy to make anything to eat, and the food doesn't seem to be obliging enough as to prepare itself and crawl into your mouth. You stare at the pantry or fridge in a stupor. Can you eat just sour cream? Would that require getting a spoon? Drinking from cartons is likely. Eating the skins of usually peel-able fruits and veggies is highly likely. Emotional outbursts are likely.
*One time, I was watching Dave Mathews on some VH1 special I think. He was telling stories about songs, and between songs. The only thing I remember is a story where he was hanging out with some friends from South Africa, where he grew up. I might get the details of this a bit wonky, but the gist goes like this: He said he was hungry, only he didn't say "hungry," he said "starving." He got raised eyebrows and strong looks from his friends who knew he knew better--had see actual starvation and shouldn't joke about it. Realizing what he said, he began to explain that while his head, heart, arms and legs were all firmly South African, he was very, very American from the bottom of his ribcage to his belt. So this is kind of like that... only I'm not South African at all.