Practice Intuitive Eating: Feel Your Fullness
Our summer dietetic intern, Jessica, is back today with some tips on intuitive eating principle #5 - feeling your fullness. Enjoy!
Many of us grew up in households where, if we cleaned our plate, we would be praised or rewarded. We were conditioned to eat everything served to us without regard to how we were feeling physically. For most of us, this was simply an attempt by our well-intentioned parents to get us to eat and grow adequately and to avoid waste. However, this strategy usually has unintended negative effects in the long term.
This mentality, along with many other things, often makes it easy to get carried away during a meal and eat past fullness. You may just respect the value of food and not want to create waste. You may have a habit of waiting way too long before you eat, and thus eat in a ravenous state where you can't seem to get the food in fast enough. Maybe you just really love food and don't want the meal to be over, even if you're full. Whatever the reason, we'll explore some ways in which you can get in touch with your fullness, begin to listen to these internal cues again, and say goodbye to the clean plate club.
1. Get yourself out of eating on autopilot.
When we’ve been members of the clean plate club since childhood, we stop the practice of eating both mindfully and consciously. We enter autopilot when we begin eating and eat until the food is gone without truly paying attention. One of the best ways to get out of eating on autopilot is to nix the distractions while eating. Society has programmed us to thrive on productivity, which can be a great thing, but it can also make it hard to slow down and take a break from our obligations, even for a meal. During one meal this week, try to find a calm environment where you can really pay attention to your eating. Step away from your phone, computer, TV, work - whatever it is that might be keeping you from really being present while eating.
2. Utilize the hunger/fullness scale.
In our previous post about honoring hunger, we discussed recognizing what hunger feels like so you know when to start eating. The same scale can be used to help you recognize a good place to end an eating experience. It is helpful to check in a few times throughout the meal to see where you're at in terms of hunger and fullness. Ideally, you end a meal around a 6-7, where you're both physically full and satisfied. There will be times when you overshoot fullness, either accidentally or because you're really enjoying an eating experience, such as when you're out with friends. Don't judge yourself for this! The overall idea is to become more aware of our fullness so you aren’t eating past fullness every time you eat. This week, when you try your meal without distractions, check in every few bites to see where your fullness is at with the goal of stopping at a 6 or 7 on the hunger/fullness scale.
If there is food left on the plate when you're feeling full, it can sometimes still feel difficult to stop because of that clean plate mentality or because it just tastes so good. Take note of what thoughts come up when you know you're full but are tempted to finish what is on your plate.
If you continue to notice that stopping when you know you're full is difficult for you, click below to sign up for our intuitive eating tip series (if you haven't already!) and receive practical steps for honoring that fullness and leaving behind the notion that you have to finish every last bite even if you're stuffed. You'll also receive practical tips for each of the other principles of intuitive eating, beyond what shows up on the blog!