In my last post, we talked about hunger, and learning to differentiate between physical and emotional hunger. Now we’re ready to talk about fullness!
Think of hunger and fullness as a scale of 1-10, with 1 meaning you’re ravenously hungry and 10 being overly full to the point of being uncomfortable. I often suggest that people keep this scale in mind when thinking about food, making food choices, and eating. Ideally, it’s best to eat when you’re at a 3 out of 10. Why? You’re hungry enough to want to eat, (it’s likely been a few hours since you’ve eaten) but still able to make a mindful and intuitive choice. If you wait too long, physical hunger can lead you to eat too quickly, losing the mindful piece which results is less satisfaction with your meal and food choices.
But how do I know I’m full?
For most of us, we reach a comfortable level of fullness when we’re at a 6-7 out of 10. The physical sensation of hunger has been met, but we’re not so full that we need to unbutton our pants! We know that the hormone leptin plays a role in this signaling, but physical cues such as no longer thinking about food, feeling a gentle stretch in our stomach, and feeling satisfied are good signs to watch for.
For people who eat according to the clock, it can take some time to really be able to tune in to “comfortable fullness”. Many people fear the sensation of hunger, or want to delay it as long as possible, resulting in eating way beyond that comfortable level.
Similarly, many who’ve followed a diet or set of “food rules” that measure portions often eat for the sake of eating, not really paying attention to hunger and fullness.
How can I practice tuning in to my hunger and fullness cues?
- Don’t let yourself get too hungry!
- Keep the 1-10 scale in mind as you make your food and meal choices. What happens if you wait too long to eat? How do you feel at a 7 vs. a 5.
- Be non-judgemental. Learning to tune into feelings of hunger and fullness takes practice! It’s never going to be perfect and that’s ok! Intuitive eating is flexible and forgiving.
- If you recognize fullness, but still want to keep eating, ask yourself why? Drop into the emotion of the moment. Feeling tired? Stressed? Happy? Nervous? Being able to properly label emotional hunger is key to intuitive eating.
Want to learn more about Intuitive Eating? Join my ‘Everyday Intuitive Eating’ Facebook group, or book an appointment to see me by calling 902.444.3303.