What does fullness feel like to you? Most of my clients relate to “Thanksgiving Full”–the uncomfortable fullness when you wish you were wearing leggings instead of jeans. However, consider what pleasant fullness feels like to you.
Indicators of Fullness
Feeling fullness is an internal sensation. No one else can feel your fullness for you. Pleasant fullness may present itself as a settled stomach, feelings of satisfaction and contentedness, or a neutral point at which food no longer sounds appealing. Also when you’re full, likely, your mind is no longer preoccupied with food-related thoughts (aka you’re no longer grazing your pantry for what’s next).
Note: A clean plate is not an indicator of fullness.
Maybe your plate is clean when you feel your fullness. Or maybe there’s food left on the plate when you reach your set point. Heck– you might even go back for seconds before feeling full. Whether or not there’s food left on the plate is arbitrary. Fullness is determined by internal measures, not external ones.
With the emphasis on internal cues, it’s clear that slowing down and tuning inwards are cornerstones for feeling fullness. When bypassed, it’s easier to unconsciously overshoot (or undershoot) fullness. This principle is all about discovering your internal cues of comfortable fullness.
Slow Down and Tune Inwards
Feeling fullness hinges on mindful eating experiences. Think about it: how often do you eat while distracted– whether it be watching Netflix, scrolling social media, driving, or working on your laptop while eating? Don’t worry–I am guilty of this, too! We’re human and have a lot going on. But how can we feel our fullness when we’re preoccupied with our favorite Bachelor contestant’s Instagram feed?…speaking from personal experience again!
If you’re trying to discover what pleasant fullness feels like and deepen your intuitive eating practice, it’s helpful to set aside time for mindful eating experiences. Here are a few strategies to put this into practice:
- Pay attention to the first, middle, and last bite of food. Consider yourself off the hook from giving your full attention to every bite of food. Just promise that you’ll check in with at least 3 bites. How’s the taste, texture, mouthfeel? What sensations are present as you take a bite?
- Set aside one meal each day or week to eat mindfully. Turn off the distractions for at least one meal a day. If that seems unrealistic, aim for one meal per week distraction-free. Often, I’m working while eating lunch and may have the TV on during dinner, so I try to keep breakfast free of distractions. Go figure, this tends to be the meal I enjoy the most! Also, it’s a great opportunity to check in with myself and energy level each morning.
- Use the hunger fullness discovery scale. Halfway through eating, you might rate your fullness on a scale of 0-10. This check-in point does not mean that you have to stop eating. You might find that you’re still hungry and continue eating. When you are finished eating, rate your fullness again using a scale of 0-10. Remember there is no right or wrong; this simply serves as information to better understand internal cues.
What strategies stand out to you? How can you put them into practice over the next week?
Your Questions Answered
What if I feel hungry all the time?
- If you haven’t read Intuitive Eating principle #2, I recommend starting here. We will discuss satisfaction and satiety in greater detail next principle, but for now, consider what foods make up your meals. If meals or snacks lack protein, fiber, and healthy fats, it’s common to feel hungry soon after eating.
What if I overshoot fullness?
- Remember, there is no right or wrong with intuitive eating. You aren’t “bad” if you eat past comfortable fullness. This happens to all of us! Invite curiosity and compassion into the moment. What can you learn from the experience? You may notice overeating happens more frequently at certain times per day, on stressful days, or when you waited until your ravenous hunger point. This serves as helpful information on your intuitive eating journey.
What do I say if I’m full and someone else pressures me to eat more?
- Navigating “food-pushers” can be tricky! Remember, you have the autonomy to respect your body and say “no” to food when you aren’t hungry. It helps to have a few key phrases for politely saying no. Here are some examples:
- To the aunt who wants you to take more of her sweet potato casserole, reply with: Your casserole is delicious, but I’m already full. Could I package some to take home?
- To the coworker that made the dish you skipped at the pot-luck: I’m too full to try another dish, but yours looks amazing. Do you mind sharing your recipe with me so I can try it at a time I’m hungry?
- To your friend that wants you to order dessert with her: You know I love dessert, but I’d like to eat it at a time I can savor it. Even if I ate a few bites, I think I’d feel physically ill.
I hope you find this information to be useful! Just like there are nuances of hunger, there are nuances of fullness, too. This post simply serves as an introduction. For individualized support with healing your relationship to food and practicing body respect, check out my coaching services!