When we eat quickly, are stressed, watch TV, read, or do work during mealtimes it is hard for us to hear when we are full. In order to experience fullness and contentment after our meals and snacks, we need to eat when we aren't too hungry and what we truly want and need in that moment, without any distractions. Feeling fullness can be challenging, we are conditioned from a young age to finish everything on our plate! It takes time and practice.
Here are 5 tips to help you get in touch with your fullness signals.
1. Try eating one meal this week without any distractions. It is best to be mildly to moderately hungry. If you are over hungry this won’t work. Make sure you have enough food on your plate and that you are eating a meal that you enjoy, and that has some substance. Take 5-10 deep breaths before you eat. This calms your digestion down and gets you in the present moment. Spend a minute paying attention to the food, look at the colours and and smell the aroma’s. Take your first bite and chew thoroughly, tasting it and feeling the textures, put down your cutlery between bites.
2. Pause for a moment halfway through the meal to check in. Ask yourself- how does the food taste? Is it still satisfying? Am I still hungry?
3. If you are still hungry, continue to eat mindfully. If you are no longer hungry take the last bite.
4. You don’t have to throw the food away- you can wrap it up and put it in the fridge, for when you are hungry again. I do this all the time!
5. If you are hungry an hour later- this is ok- it may mean that you did not have enough to eat, or there were not enough substance or nutrient dense foods in your meal. It is important to honour your hunger again if this happens. Take note for next time.
It is important to note that it is OK to eat past fullness as well- there will always be times in life where we overindulge and that is what life is about! (hello holidays, Christmas, nights out etc). Life is for living after all.
Please note that if you are in recovery from an eating disorder, then your fullness signals will be out of whack and it's most likely that you feel full very quickly or bloated. This is perfectly normal. Once you get into a regular routine with eating, your fullness signals will heal. It is best to be supported by a certified intuitive eating counsellor and dietitian specialising in eating disorders, along with your treatment team for this journey.