Intuitive Eating – Part 6

Posted: May 5, 2010 at 9:24 pm

Catch up with all the previous Intuitive Eating posts!


Reject Diet Mentality

Honor Your Hunger

Make Peace with Food

Fight the Food Police

Principle 5: Feel Your Fullness

Think about the last meal you had. How did it end? Did you eat the amount you had planned for that particular meal and stop afterwards, despite still feeling like you could eat a little bit more? Did you serve yourself a large portion because your “eyes were bigger than your stomach”, but finished your plate anyways? Or did you eat until satisfied, even if it meant leaving food on your plate or going back for more?

I admit that this is something I struggled with a lot in the journey to eating more intuitively. I don’t claim to be 100% intuitive as I still do have my moments where I will eat past fullness, but I can recognize a lot of progress in my approach to food and how I eat it. Like today’s lunch, for example. I left about 1/3 of the wrap and 1/2 of the coleslaw because I was full.


In my previous “restrict + overeat” (aka dieting and non-intuitive) life I would have made sure to eat the entire thing. Why? Because leaving food is a difficult thing to do for many who are restricting their food intake. There are many reasons for this.

  • Dieting means it is only “legal” to eat at meal times. If I want to eat, then I have to eat now and I have to eat everything that I allowed myself to eat during that meal. Otherwise, I won’t be able to eat it later because I didn’t plan for it then. Ever have a thought process like this? I know I have. I tend to end up stuffed and feeling gross afterwards, too.
  • Begin the meal too hungry. If you ate too little prior to a meal in an attempt to be “good” you very well could eat past your fullness because you are too hungry to take time to eat and monitor your hunger.
  • My only chance to eat this. When you have free meals or free days many times those days can turn into overeating scenarios because you feel it is your only chance to fit in as much of your “bad foods” as possible. I will admit that even when losing weight after Makenzie I had “free days”. I noticed I would want to eat soooo much those days.
  • Out of habit. Sometimes having to make each meal a verification of your membership in the “Clean Plate Club” is simply habit. You maybe grew up being taught to eat everything you were served. Perhaps you hate wasting food and therefore will force yourself to eat it so it doesn’t go in the trash. Perhaps you eat on autopilot from being so used to eating the same meals in the same amounts and you don’t even think twice about it. I know I’m guilty of that too.

Clean plate [Source]

That is all fine and dandy, but what can we actually do to feel our fullness? Below are some tips to monitoring your full factor while eating so you can end a meal perfectly satisfied.

  • Pause while eating. This will allow you to not eat too fast, which can leave you unaware of eating past your comfort level until it’s too late. You can also rate your fullness on a 1-10 scale during these breaks to know whether you need to eat more or stop.
  • Limit distractions. Try to sit down in an environment where you can actually take the time to savor your food. This applies to the above tip as well. The less distractions you have, the more you are able to recognize and pay attention to your body’s signals.
  • Give yourself permission to eat again when hungry. Trying to eat on a schedule can cause you to not pay attention to your fullness. If you know you can’t eat until 3 hours later because it is when you are “supposed” to eat, you may eat past your fullness at that particular meal or snack. Knowing that you can have a snack as soon as you feel truly hungry again will relieve the need to hoard your food in your belly and stave off hunger until your planned eating time.
  • Reinforce your decision to stop eating with a physical action. When you recognize you are beginning to feel full, pay close attention to how much more you eat. At the time you know you are satisfied, push your plate away, set your napkin on top of your plate, ask the waiter to remover your dish, etc. Do something phyical to signify you are done eating.
  • Practice saying “No, thank you”. There are numerous situations where we are eating with others and they offer us more to eat. Think holiday dinners with plates being passed around numerous times. Or out to dinner with friends when your friend offers you another piece of bread because they are going for their 3rd and think you may want another as well. Being able to say “no thanks” is a very useful tool in not eating past your fullness.
  • Assess your current state before you begin eating. Remember the idea of being a food anthropologist? This applies to that. Many things factor into how easily you will be satisfied in each meal. How long it has been since you last ate will play a role. Has it been two hours or five? The kind of food you have eaten recently will impact your needs since some foods are naturally more filling. Your initial hunger state when you begin eating needs to be considered as well. You might be ready to eat, but only mildly hungry. Paying attention to each of these factors will help you begin your meal more aware and be more likely to stay mindful of your hunger/fullness levels.

home_image1 [Source]

I want to be clear on something. Cleaning your plate is not a bad thing. If you are truly hungry, then you very well may eat everything in front of you. The problem is eating past your comfort because you are not recognizing your body’s needs and desires. It is also a problem when not eating to satiety because you ate your “proper serving” and don’t believe you should go back for more. Intuitive eating is always about paying attention to your body and giving it what it is asking for. Clean your plate or leave half your meal. None of that matters. What matters is did you end the meal satisfied with no guilt, no hunger, and no stress?

82278022 [Source]


24 Comments to “Intuitive Eating – Part 6”
  1. Ameena says:

    I am guilty of about 80% of these things! I cannot just eat and not multi-task. I also have problems eating between meals which is why I probably eat too much at meal times. Eating intuitively is tricky.

    Thanks for the great information!

  2. lisaou11 says:

    I think that my biggest “help” in feeling full is taking pauses, putting my utensil down, and eating slowly giving myself time to feel full. I used to just inhale food without even thinking so fast so I would eat much more than I needed to. I ate so fast and then bam, I’d all of a sudden feel full.

    Sort of like drinking–you drink so much to quick, and then BAM! all of a sudden you feel drunk. Both are bad 🙂 haha. Thanks, Tina. I love these.

  3. This is something I am really working on. I have definitely gotten better at eating slower. What has worked for me is using smaller plates and utensils, setting the fork down between bites, chewing and swallowing before shoving more food in my mouth (we´ve all done this…), and especially drinking water between every bite. The thing I have trouble with is understanding what it means to fill “full.” Sometimes I am hungry and I have five or six bites and am no longer feeling that hunger… but I know mentally that that was not enough food to satisfy me, so I keep eating. Other times I clear a large plate that I know “should be enough food” but I don´t feel “full.” I know the stuffed-to-the-gills feeling and I know I (usually) don´t want THAT, but how do you know the difference between “my hunger has temporarily subsided” and “this meal is over”? This is what I am struggling with.

  4. I’ve really loved all your posts on intuitive eating! It’s really helped me to just stop trying to find the “perfect” number of calories and just listen to my body when its hungry and also to ask myself when I’m having a craving if I simply am craving the taste or am actually hungry. Thanks so much for putting so much good info into all your posts! =)

  5. Sarah says:

    I’ve been loving these Intuitive Eating posts! They’re really helpful, as I’m trying to get back to that kind of lifestyle.

  6. Melissa says:

    Great post in your Intuitive Eating series!

    I think feeling my fullness was the thing that helped me the most. A meal is much more enjoyable if I don’t go beyond satiety. No unbuttoning my jeans to make room for more food. Haha.

  7. Jessie says:

    This is a great summary, Tina! I appreciate all your tips, especially the one where you need to give yourself permission to eat when you’re hungry – a lot of people deny their hunger and then when they DO eat, intuitive eating goes out the window! Thanks for the great info! 🙂

  8. I am terrible about eating too fast. I really need to learn to slow down, enjoy the food, and recognize the full filling.

  9. Kelly says:

    Great tips! The one I am guilty of is “My only chance to eat this”…that gets me every time!

  10. I seriously think you should write a book on these series! No other bloggers have written it as well as you and it really does change the way I eat. Thank you and please write more!!

  11. This is the hardest part of intuitive eating for me. Growing up, the feeling of eating past fullness was “comfortable” (mentally, not physicall, of course!) and so I struggle with this a lot.

  12. I have to constantly remind myself when I eat to slow down and enjoy the food. I used to scarf my food down so quickly and not even remember eating it sometimes!

  13. Holly says:

    Thank you so much for this post, Tina, as this is something I still struggle with! I think a big part is, like you said, for SO long, I only gave myself permission to eat at designated meal times and snack times. So if I didn’t eat all that was on my plate, well, I got so scared I would get hungry later on. I’m getting better about this, though, and have learned I “do better” with setting up smaller meals in front of me – that way, I can finish them slowly, and eat a snack later on when/if I get hungry. I love what you said about giving yourself permission to eat when hungry. I think that takes away some of that fear, and obligation to always be a member of the CPC. 🙂

  14. katie says:

    I just told my sister the other day that the only 2 times I really find myself ‘over-eating’ anymore is when it’s a ‘celebration’ so I feel like I won’t get a chance to eat that ‘special’ food again, or when I’m STARVING and have no idea when I truly am full!
    You hit both of those points when saying don’t make food ‘rules’ (or certain foods off-limits) because when you ‘allow’ yourself to have them, you generally go over-board, and you need to pause when eating, this allows you to really feel if you are full! GREAT POST! Thank you!

  15. I always eat a little bit more after I “feel full” – I guess I don’t believe my body is really full and I just want to ensure that I’m satisfied? I don’t know what it is, but I need to work on actually stopping when I’m full!

  16. Therese says:

    I am way to guilty of placing foods in the good and bad categories. Therefore when I end up eating something “bad” I want to gorge because “starting tomorrow I won’t be allowed those bad things.”

    Yea so the binges are still a very real occurance in my life, albeit less frequent now. The newest post you wrote….boy have I been there. Checking out of CVS with a slew of candy feeling like I owe the checkout guy an explanation. “We’re having people over!” Ugh.

    Right now I just don’t have enough dollars to really get creative with my food so I end up feeling deprived. Plus I still am carrying around about 10 pounds that I’m not comfortable with. my clothes don’t fit and I can’t buy new ones. Anyway thanks for sharing your journey because it is inspiring to see someone make so much progress.

    Whoa…holy novel.

  17. rc1001 says:

    I love this series and this installment is my favorite one yet!

    Thanks so much!

  18. I’m good on pausing while eating…I try to take it slow and enjoy EVERY bite! 🙂

  19. wow i totally related to and identified with this post! i often find myself continuing to eat even after i am full.. and this habit has led me to points when i’m so full that i feel sick… so i’m really trying to slow down and be more intuitive about that feeling of fullness. i think a few things help me: really enjoying the food and contemplating the textures and particular tastes of what i’m eating, slowing down and asking myself every few bites whether or not i’m full, sitting down and eating with utensils instead of standing around in the kitchen munching, and being thankful for the food i have and thinking about that while i’m eating.

  20. cardiopizza says:

    I actually use the tip of the 1-10 scale, especially when I go out to eat. Many times I just want to keep eating and eating out of habit, so I think the scale is such a great tool.

  21. homecookedem says:

    I’ll be the first to admit I still have a long way to go when it comes to intuitive eating. Years and years of issues with food make it so hard for me to fully become intuitive. And now that I have weight to lose, it just makes it even harder b/c I feel like I should be making more of an effort to eat as smart as possible. But I’m a work and progress and these posts you’re putting up are such an inspiration to me. Thank you!! 🙂

  22. Jenn says:

    Out of all the things you’ve posted about intuitive eating THIS is the one I really resonate with b/c it can be so difficult for me to stop when I’m full. I’ve noticed that it is easier to read my true hunger levels when I don’t have PMS.

    I’ve really enjoyed getting an overview of the book. Thanks!

  23. […] really inspiring to hear how many of you have transitioned to a more intuitive approach with food. Tina has written a series of posts about her journey to eating intuitively which is a must-read for anyone who struggles with […]

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