Feel Your Fullness

Posted by Jennifer Campoli on June 1st, 2010
Filed under intuitive eating | No Comments »

Good morning friends!

How are you on this fine fine day? Did you have a nice long weekend? I had such a wonderful 3 days…I was so fortunate to see many friends, family and just soak up the warm weather. It was glorious! And I felt like I needed a glorious weekend after a not so great week (the identity scandal kind of threw me off for the rest of the week).

I had wanted today's post to be focused on a new Intuitive Eating principle and ironically my weekend's theme had everything to do with the heart of these ideas…so shall we?

Principle 5: Feel Your Fullness

"Listen for the body signals that tell you you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show you're comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current fullness level is."

Our holiday weekend began with a BBQ and ended with a BBQ. All in all, we attended 4 parties in 2 different states. It was wonderful! It was also a weekend full of food. Good food. Food we don't have often and food I LOVE. After having a particularly difficult week, I was aware of how easily I could allow a weekend of indulgent food turn into a weekend of over eating or even bingeing. That used to be me!

Who am I now?

I pay attention to my fullness. I listen to this lovely body of mine because everything I need to know what to eat, how much and when to stop is right inside of me. The challenge is actually listening! Sometimes we all revert back to childhood where we refuse to listen to our parents and we refuse to listen to our bodies. :)

This principle appears simple and I even referred to it as a simple idea: just listen. What makes it challenging is our past learning. Some of us belong to the "clean plate club." Though shall never leave food on our plate. Some of us had older siblings who would eat all of the food if they got their first which leads to eating fast and eating as much as you could get in. Some of us forget to eat for 6-8 hours and find ourselves ravenous before a meal and can't control what goes in and can't ever get to the point of satiety. We are all unique in our relationship with food. The key to this principle is to slowly learn about your fullness and then to start respecting it.

How do you describe fullness or satiety? I used to not know. You may call it a subtle feeling of fullness, or a hint of satisfaction and contentment, or even nothing- you aren't hungry and you aren't full. But this sensation is highly individual. The way to learn what fullness or satiety feels like in your body is conscious eating.

Conscious Eating

Imagine you begin a meal. You look at your plate, you take in the aromas of the food and just enjoy what is in front of you.

You begin eating and then after a few moments you pause. You put down your fork and you just sit for a moment. You check in with your body and your taste buds. Are you enjoying your meal? Are you content?

You then do a taste check. How does the food actually taste? What do you notice about the various flavors? Does it taste as good as you thought it would? Are you tired of the flavors?

Then you do a satiety check. What is your hunger or fullness level on a scale of 1 to 10? Are you satisfied? How close are you to being full?

When you finish eating you ask yourself again what your fullness level is. Are you comfortable? Have you pushed past a fullness level that feels good to your body?

That is conscious eating. You take your mind off of auto pilot. It is putting down the book, turning off the TV and being aware of what you are eating, how it feels in your stomach and how your body feels. This way of eating takes time, practice and effort. It did not come easily to me. Some days I felt ridiculous. Most days I thought it was ridiculous. But…but…over time I began to enjoy food again. I began to notice my taste buds and notice when I simply had had enough of the pasta. Or enough of the ice cream.

Feeling content and satisfied after a meal is something that I now look forward to. I no longer want to walk away from a meal stuffed, over full and feeling like the rest of my night is going to be spent listening to my stomach work at digesting the over indulgent amount of food. That is no longer fun.

This weekend was a huge test for me and respecting my fullness. Not only because there was food that I love but I happy! I was so happy to be with friends and to be outside, welcoming the summer weather. I have a tendency to eat a lot more when I'm celebrating or even enjoying an event. And I also tend to drink a lot more. To help stay in tune with my body I followed the 3 recommendations on how to increase conscious eating:

1. Eat without distraction

No, this doesn't mean I walked away from the party and ate by myself. I would simply slow down while eating. I found a place to sit and I took a moment to survey my food and begin eating with a conscious mind. I wasn't eating while watching TV or eating while driving to the next event. I was very much present and aware of eating. I paid attention.

2. Reinforce your conscious decision to stop

When I start to sense that I am getting full I always put my fork down. I give myself about a minute to decide where I am on my fullness scale. If I'm pushing past fullness then I often stop eating. If I am not quite there yet, I know that a few more bites will be the perfect amount. What I try to avoid is mindless eating and the mindless decision that I don't care how full I am, I'm going to eat the entire piece of cake! A few years ago, I could never leave cake on the plate. I could barely leave anything on the plate. But now I not only know that the cake will always be there tomorrow if I would like another piece but I respect my body in a way that encourages me to only eat until I'm satisfied.

3. Defend yourself from obligatory eating

Stop when your body is satisfied. Say no if you are full. I know it can be difficult when the hostess of the party wants you to try her homemade pie or when mom has made your favorite meal. But it is so important to respect and listen to your body. If you are full, if you are satisfied- don't eat. Ask for a piece of cake to go or muster up the kindest thank you and realize that that is enough!

Or if it is your mind that is telling you to clean your plate, turn that voice off! Decide that your body is worth listening to and sometimes your mind isn't! :)

Because of this principle and because of these ideas, I went to bed with a healthy and happy belly last night. I woke up feeling energized and content with the wonderful memories of my weekend. I was not lethargic because of a food and sugar coma. I was not achy because my body worked so hard through the night to digest what I had forced in there. I have finally experienced a holiday weekend where I enjoyed everything. I had it all and I tasted it all! But I knew when to stop and I knew how to listen to my body.

So friends…how does your body tell you that you are full? Do you struggle with listening to your body?

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