Intuitive eating principle 6, feel your fullness, helps you to see that as with hunger, fullness feels different to each person. Right now, if you’ve spent years dieting, you may not know what that feels like for you.
In this principle of intuitive eating you learn how fullness might feel in your body, and learn how to reconnect with your fullness signals.
Just like with hunger, there are signs of fullness that you might have ignored for a long time because of dieting.
It’s quite common to find that when you are on a diet you don’t get full, because the amount of food you are eating isn’t enough to fill you up. If you’re calorie counting especially you can find that the amount of food you’re allowing yourself each day or each meal just isn’t enough. There are apps out there (mentioning no names!) that will set you on a ridiculously low number of calories, that is totally unrealistic and nowhere near enough to keep your body functioning, and to achieve that low number of calories you have to have tiny portions of food, so you’re never full.
Or perhaps for you it’s that you binge eat, or have cheat/treat days where you are off plan, and so you eat vast amounts of food very quickly, and your body doesn’t have chance to realise and tell you that it is full. Or even that you do realise you are full, but you choose to ignore it because maybe this is the one day of the week you go all out and eat whatever you want, so you want to ‘make the most of it’.
The many other reasons why we might eat past the point of being comfortably full, such as…
Whatever your reasons, it’s not a good relationship to have with food. It is physically uncomfortable to be overly full, it’s physically uncomfortable to never reach fullness, it’s mentally difficult, it’s emotionally difficult.
The nicer, kinder option is to learn to recognise what fullness feels like for you, and then work with your hunger and fullness to help you to naturally balance your food intake.
There they go again – those principles of intuitive eating working together!
It’s important to note here that to feel your fullness is not about finding the point where you have to stop eating. It is perfectly ok to feel full but not yet be satisfied, and to keep eating. If we said “you’re full so you have to stop eating” that is putting rules and restriction in place, and that is not what intuitive eating is about. This is about having an awareness of what your body is telling you, and making a decision based on that.
Like hunger you might think that you just feel fullness in the stomach, but it is much more than that. Think about a time when you were really really full. So full you couldn’t eat another bite. How did that feel to you?
How does it feel in your stomach? Discomfort, maybe some pain? Bloated, and like you need to unbutton your trousers (or better still, put your pyjamas on)? How high up do you feel it? How low down do you feel it? Maybe it even messes with your digestion a bit too?
Now think about how it feels in your head – can you still concentrate properly? Do you have focus and clarity, or do you feel sluggish and tired?
Once you can distinguish what it feels like for you to be super full, you can start to think about how those feelings are for you when you’re more comfortably full.
Maybe then you have a nice comforting feeling in your stomach. Full of food, but comfortably so.
Maybe instead of feeling like you need a sleep, to feel comfortably full means you feel energised, motivated, and have better focus?
If you can’t feel your fullness yet, that’s ok, give yourself some time. Like with hunger it may take some work. But with some focus and some practice you can start to recognise the sensations that are present for you. Practice will develop your awareness of your physical cues.
But give it some thought and some focus because, as with hunger, once you are able to recognise it, listen to those cues, and start to feel your fullness, you start becoming a more intuitive eater, giving your body what it needs and wants, rather than eating to rules and restriction.
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