The fifth step of intuitive eating involves learning to respect and know when your body is feeling full. Why is this the fifth step? In order to eat intuitively and recognize the feeling of being full, you have to allow yourself to eat. That is why it is important for you to reject diet mentality, learn to honor your hunger, make peace with food, and learn to challenge irrational thinking about food first.
If you have not at least looked at the first four steps yet, you can go through them in order here.
Your body knows when it is full, even if you are not consciously aware of when you are feeling full. There are many reasons why you might be out of touch with your fullness signals. The primary one is dieting. Food restriction and diet mentality train us to eat food whenever it is allowed or available. It is hard to acknowledge your fullness and stop eating when it’s uncertain when or if you will get to eat that food again.
How do you recognize and honor when you are feeling full, especially after years of not doing so?
Here are five tips that will help you get back in tune with feeling your fullness.
1. Honor Your Hunger
if you don’t honor your hunger and allow your body to eat whenever it is hungry, it is hard to stop when you are full. Have you ever waited so long to eat that you inhaled all the food in front of you and felt stuffed? Deprivation and food restriction are common triggers for uncontrolled binge eating.
In the second step of intuitive eating, you learned how to recognize the gentle signs of hunger and eat what your body is asking for at that moment. When you honor your hunger and give yourself unconditional permission to eat what you want when you want it, it is much easier to eat consciously and recognize when the feeling of being full or nearly full. Your body will not be constantly obsessed with food and prone to bingeing.
2. Eat Consciously
We have all eaten mindlessly while multitasking or watching television and been surprised to discover how quickly food disappeared.
Where did that bag of chips go?
If you want to get back to eating intuitively, try eating consciously until you get back in touch with your body’s signals. Sit down with no distractions, and take time to eat. 10-15 minutes is a great start if you are used to eating quickly. Make a mental note of how the food tastes and feels to you as you begin eating, and engage in the full eating experience.
3. Pause To Reflect
Check in with yourself at least once while you are eating. Take a brief pause to reflect and ask yourself these questions.
- “Am I feeling full?”
- “How hungry I am I compared to when I sat down to eat?”
- “Does this bite still taste as good as the first one?”
- “Do I want to continue eating?”
If you are still hungry and enjoying your food, keep eating and check in again in a few minutes. A sensation of feeling full, the absence of hunger, and food not tasting as good are all signs of fullness. You can always decide to eat past this point, but you will usually feel better if you do not overfill yourself.
Remember, you can always save the food and have it again any time!
4. Identify Fullness
There is no right or wrong way to feel fullness. Every body has its own unique way of letting you know when it is feeling full. The most common signs include:
- Not feeling hungry
- Feeling satisfied
- A fullness sensation
- Food not tasting or sounding as good as it does when you are hungry
- Pain or sick feeling if you have eaten too much
it may help to use a hunger-fullness scale as a guide, You can rate the level of fullness you feel on a 1-10 scale, aiming for the 6-8 range, or you can use the same alternative scale that I used in the post on honoring your hunger, shown below.
If you choose to use the balloon scale, the goal would be to identity when you are 1/2 to 3/4 full and try to stop there most of the time. That is the point where your body will feel satisfied but not uncomfortably full.
5. Don’t Let External Factors Decide Your Fullness For You
We often let external factors dictate when we should stop eating. Some examples are:
- The “clean plate” club
- That you have to leave food on your plate while dieting
- Feeling pressured to eat seconds to show the host you like their cooking
- Wondering if you should continue or stop eating because everyone else is doing so
You don’t have to clean your plate if you are feeling full before you finish. Save the rest for later if you want. You won’t be depriving someone else of food by choosing not to eat all of yours in one sitting.
On the other hand, if you find that you are hungry enough to finish everything on your plate, feel free to eat it all. It is okay to eat when you are hungry.
If you are at someone else’s home, you may feel like you should eat more to make them believe that you like the food. You don’t have to eat if you are already feeling full. Thank the host for the wonderful meal, and let them know that you are full. You can always indicate, when and where appropriate, that you are willing to take leftovers or eat more of whatever your favorite part of the meal was if there is any left when you are hungry.
Enjoying The Experience
When you have practiced honoring your hunger, not depriving your body of the foods it wants and respecting when your body is feeling full, you are well on your way to becoming an intuitive eater. This progress will open you up to experiencing the satisfaction and pleasure that food can bring, Discovering that satisfaction is the next step of intuitive eating.