Principle 5: Feel Your Fullness (PODCAST)

Anti-Racism Resources

Please join me in the movement from June 1-7 to mute yourself on social media and amplify the voices of black dietitians, therapists, activists, creators, etc. Details can be found on the bottom two links above. At a later date, I will post more actively about anti-racism on my blog. However, I am not your resource for this information. I am a white, privileged woman. No matter how much I learn and reflect, I am not your girl for this information. Start with the list above and look at these strong women’s words, experiences and recommendations. But if there’s anything I can give you for advice…it’s to LISTEN.

While this is not ideal timing, I do have a podcast already recorded on Principle 5 of Intuitive Eating. Show notes are below, but you are more than welcome to come back to this at a later date. 🙂 It’s here if you need it.

In the midst of all of this, I know some of you are struggling more than ever with disordered eating, negative body thoughts, and desires to go on a diet. I think we are all getting antsy after being in quarantine since the middle of March. I want to still continue to honor and offer help for your struggles and continue to provide free podcast episodes as a resource for you. In this episode we will discuss barriers to feeling your fullness, what fullness may look like for you, how to combat the “clean plate” mentality, which foods make you feel fuller than others, and how to create a more mindful eating experience.

Barriers to Feel Your Fullness

When talking about Principle 5: Feel Your Fullness, you might find yourself asking “okay, but how hard can it really be?!” However, much like we talked about in Episode 8: Honor Your Hunger, many people have lost a sense of what their hunger and fullness looks like. While maybe you were silencing your hunger, maybe you also never have fully understood what fullness looks like for you either. And can we really blame people for not paying attention to their fullness? Have you ever thought about how distracted we are? Distractions are a huge barrier to tuning into fullness. How many of you have ever eaten while: watching tv, scrolling through your social media apps, texting, reading, working, driving, standing, etc? I imagine you answered yes to at least one of those scenarios. Now let me ask you this–were you particularly tuned into the eating experience? It may be difficult for you to think back to a particular time. But I can tell you that anytime I am eating something quickly while in the car, I can hardly tell you how the food tasted 10 minutes later. It’s not a very mindful, serene experience.

What Does Fullness Feel Like

While some of you may have no problem with distracted eating, it’s more than likely that most of us do. With that being said, the distractions serve as a barrier to feeling your fullness. Have you ever been watching a television show with the remote and one hand and your other hand in a bag of potato chips when you all of a sudden realize you ate the entire thing and now feel uncomfortably full? I’m raising my hand on this one. People that know me know how much I love my salt and vinegar chips. Now I want to make this clear. You are not BAD if this happens to you. But you may feel uncomfortable and out of touch with your fullness. And if you want to start identifying your fullness, this is for you. There are a number of signs you may feel full after a meal.

One of the most obvious signs of fullness is sensation in your stomach that might range from slight distention to bloating. You might also notice your thoughts change. When you are feeling ravenously hungry (or more popularly known as “hangry”), then you were probably obsessing over when you can eat. As you start to eat, you will notice that strong desire for food start to deminish. Along with this, you may see a shift from irritability to feeling more relaxed. If you found yourself feeling drowsy as a sign of hunger, now you might feel reenergized.

Tracking your hunger and fullness together can help you get an idea of your body’s own rhythm. You can use the same chart as described in the Honor Your Hunger episode. As a refresher, the scale ranges from feeling completely empty to entirely stuffed with ranges between. If you were tracking your hunger before and now feel comfortable, you can add on fullness. A word of warning, if you start noticing that you are treating this like a “hunger-fullness diet” then it’s likely that you still have the diet mentality engrained in you. It’s okay! But I would suggest sticking with the first couple of principles until you feel more prepared for this principle.

Am I a Member of the Clean Plate Club?

Once you start identifying what fullness looks like and if you have any patterns, we can then move on to discussing the Clean Plate Club. Did any of you ever hear this phrase growing up? I remember flashing my plate and declaring “I’m a member of the Clean Plate Club” as a kid. And before we dive into this subject, I want to say that there is NOTHING wrong with cleaning your plate. That is not what this is about. Particularly if you are actively recovering from an eating disorder and your team has assigned a plan for you–this next part probably won’t apply to you. This is because much like we talked about with hunger, you likely have a ways to go before you are ready to track fullness. But if you’ve never heard the term ” Clean Plate Club”, allow me to explain. Being a member of the plate means that you finished the food on your plate with no regard to how much is served, how you feel, and feeling disconnected from your surroundings. Instead of tuning into how you feel, the sole purpose is to finish your plate. And don’t be so hard on yourself. Think back to your childhood. You might have been told as a kid “you can’t have dessert unless you finish your plate” or “finish your food, there are people starving in the world.” While I’m not a parent, I imagine these are well-meaning remarks. In talking to parents, many often tell me how worried they are that their kids are not getting the right nutrients or enough food. I can empathize. Heck, I worry if my dog is getting the right balance of nutrients.

The Intuitive Eating workbook offers a simple assessment checklist to help you identify if you are a member of the club. Some of the scenarios include:

  • I grew up in a large family, and meals were competitive. My mom put all the food on the table. If I didn’t seize my servings, I lost out–there would be no food left.
  • I grew up with a sense of food scarcity
  • When I am served a whole food like a sandwich, I automatically eat the entire thing.
  • I feel guilty if I don’t eat all of my food.

(Plus many more!)

How Foods Affect Your Fullness

Once you have a better understanding of your fullness, you can start to explore foods that have more staying power. This is where we can start to see the power of nutrition. It’s not that nutrition hasn’t been powerful this entire Intuitive Eating journey, but initially we must put some of that aside to focus on unlearning what we’ve been told. When I think of foods that help keep you full longer, I think of all of the macronutrients plus fiber. As a reminder, the macronutrients are protein, fats, and carbs. Fiber is a subcategory of carbs–it’s the indigestible type we hear of helping our digestive regularity and blood cholesterol. I often recommend eating foods in combination. Let’s take a snack for example. I might suggest an apple with peanut butter. The apple is providing complex carbohydrates and fiber. The peanut butter is providing fat and protein. If you just had the apple, you might find yourself hungry quickly after and searching for your next snack.

On the flip side, be aware of foods with less staying power. Some of these foods might be what I’d consider “airy foods.” One thing that comes to mind is a rice cake. I don’t have anything against rice cakes, but on their own, I don’t find them to do the trick to keep me full. But I could add some banana slices and peanut butter to this to make a more satiating snack. Other foods that you may want to keep an eye out for due to their shorter lasting power include: artificially sweetened foods like diet snacks and diet sodas, and high bulk, low calorie foods like vegetables. It’s not that these foods are off limits. I actually do enjoy the taste of Diet Coke. But I’d just want to make sure that I’m not depending on that type of food or drink to fill me up.

Creating a More Mindful Eating Experience

Finally, in this principle, take some time to imagine what an ideal eating experience would be like. For me, the “perfect” eating experience would be alone on a beach in Hawaii with a plate of fruit, cheese, and a fruity cocktail. Yeah that’s not realitstic. But the elements that draw me to that fantasy is the calmness. Since I tend to be an anxious person, when I sit down for a meal, ideally it should be quiet. I don’t like to feel rushed or distracted. So then I might ask myself how I can create this type of experience for at least one of my meals? I may consider closing my office door at lunch and playing some relaxing music. When I find myself eating quickly, I sometimes eat with chopsticks or my non-dominant hand and this helps me slow down and actually enjoy my meal. Other times, even taking the time to eat at the table and plate my food in an aesthetically pleasing fashion does the trick.

As with the previous episodes, here are your journal prompts:

Journal Prompts

  1. Evaluate your eating environment for a day. Is your environment noisy and distracting? Are you frequently multi-tasking? Or is it calm and mindful?
  2. Tune into your fullness for a day this week. If you want to, take the time to track it with the scale. Do you notice any patterns?
  3. What is your ideal eating environment? How can you start bringing elements of this into your meals or snacks?

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