Do you ever question, “why do I never feel full?” Or maybe one of these statements resonates with you:
- “I’m good at eating when I feel hungry, but I’m bad at stopping when I feel full.”
- “I don’t really ever feel full until I get to the point of uncomfortable fullness.”
- “If I listened to my body, I would just eat all day.”
Today on the blog, we’re talking all about fullness and how you can reconnect to your fullness cues to practice intuitive eating.
What is Fullness?
Intuitive Eating principle #5 says: Listen to the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry.
So just as Intuitive Eating is saying “YES” to food when we are hungry, it’s also saying “NO” to food to respect our fullness.
Fullness in Intuitive Eating is two-part. First, it’s acknowledging the absence of hunger at the physical level. Second, it’s honoring the feeling of satisfaction and contentedness at the emotional level.
For example, eating a giant bowl of greens and veggies might make you feel physically full. But chances are you won’t feel that satisfaction or contentedness at the emotional level.
You have a higher chance of reaching comfortable fullness by asking yourself: What sounds good to me? What mix of flavors and textures can I add here? And honoring your preferences.
Why Do I Never Feel Full?
Explore 3 common reasons you might be experiencing this:
1 – You were taught that feeling full is bad.
Dieting teaches us that feeling full is a bad thing. It preaches the message that if we feel full, we’ve eaten too much and will gain weight. This leads to thoughts like:
- “I’m still hungry, but I shouldn’t need more food.”
- “My portion was bigger than everyone else at the table. I should eat less.”
- “I’m so bad for letting myself get too full.”
These conflicting messages chip away at your ability to trust your body’s internal fullness cues. You feel like you can’t trust your body, so you turn to diets instead.
2 – You’ve listened to diets for so long.
When you stop trusting your body’s internal fullness cues, you rely on a set of external diet rules for guiding what, when, and how to eat. This leads to behaviors such as:
- Eating lunch at a specific time with no deviation from the plan.
- Stopping when your plate is clean, even if you’re still hungry.
- Eliminating snacks in between meals, even if you’re hungry.
After ignoring your body’s internal cues for so long, your body stops sending them altogether. It’s similar to if you stopped exercising a muscle group. Eventually, that muscle group would atrophy.
3 – You wait to start eating to the point of *ravenous* hunger.
Hunger and fullness are on opposite ends of a spectrum. How you respond to hunger, impacts how you feel fullness.
Refer to the hunger & fullness scale image below:
If you wait to start eating until you hit the “over-hungry” range, it’s likely that you finish eating in the “over-full” range.
On the other hand, if you start eating in the “comfortable hunger” range, it’s likely that you finish eating in the “comfortable fullness” range.
What Does Fullness Feel Like?
Most people can identify with the “stuffed” or “bloated” feeling after a big meal. But many people struggle with noticing subtle signs of fullness. Subtle fullness cues include:
- Head: less food-related thoughts.
- Energy & Mood: a feeling of ease and restored energy.
- Stomach: slight distention or fullness in the stomach.
Pay attention during the eating experience to identify these subtle messages.
Reconnecting to Your Fullness Cues
Just how it’s possible to rebuild a muscle group through exercise and repetition, you can rebuild a connection to your fullness cues.
Here are a few important reminders as you reconnect to your fullness cues:
- It’s OKAY to feel full.
- Fullness is a temporary sensation.
- We don’t always “get it right” every single time.
- It’s safe to eat for physical fullness & emotional satisfaction.
- Eliminate distractions during the eating experience.
- If you never feel hungry, aim to eat every 3-4 hours for blood sugar stability.
Putting it all together:
- Use the hunger fullness discovery scale to rate hunger & fullness before, during, and after eating.
- Aim to honor early signs of hunger & fullness. If you still feel hungry after eating, allow ourself to go back for more food.
- Remember, there is no right or wrong with this practice. Simply use the scale as a tool in connecting to your internal body cues.
What’s your biggest struggle as it relates to hunger and fullness? Comment below so that I can support you with your nutrition needs!