Become an Intuitive Eater
It’s time for our next principle of Intuitive Eating—Feel Your Fullness—and I have a confession to make.I failed at feeling my fullness tonight.First,I worked late, not finishing up with my last client until almost 8:00 pm.It had been too long since lunch, and I found myself in quite the ravenous state by the time I was leaving the office.Second,I failed to eat without distraction.Because I am always two steps behind on meeting a deadline, I chose to eat dinner while writing this very article.Both of these decisions—ones that inhibit an intuitive eater from truly respecting her fullness—left me further away from satisfied than I would have preferred and teetering on the edge of stuffed.
I share all this for one reason: To remind you, my friend, that this journey is about progress, not perfection!Tomorrow is a new day.But in the meantime, let’s get an overview of this month’s principle.
Principle Five: Feel Your Fullness
The original intuitive eating pros—Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, define “feeling your fullness” as the ability to stop eating because you have had enough to eat biologically.Much like what happened to me, certain habits, such as becoming ravenous before you eat, staying distracted while eating, or feeling obligated to eat by well-meaning “food pushers”, can cause overeating. Additionally,the majority of chronic dieters don’t stop eating until the last morsel is gone, and this creates an inability to recognize a level of comfortable fullness.These “clean-your-plate” club members come by this honestly— either through a lifetime of meager portions offered in dieting plans or from well-meaning parents who taught that plates must be cleaned before you leave the table.
Therefore, many members of the clean-your-plate club turn on autopilot when they pick up the fork. That is, they eat until completion, or until the food is gone.To break this unhealthy pattern, it is often beneficial to move to the opposite end of the continuum, which means becoming more mindful, or even hyperconscious, of eating—not a place you want to live forever but long enough to break the cycle.
One of the first steps away from “autopilot eating” is conscious eating, which Tribole and Resch have broken into a series of stages.First, pause in the middle of a meal or snack and take a time-out for taste and satiety checks (something I obviously forgot to do!).Ask yourself if the food tastes good, or are you just continuing to eat because it is there? Check your fullness level, much like you Check your hunger level prior to eating.Do you still feel hungry? Or is your hunger going away and satisfaction setting in?
Once you finish eating, ask yourself where your fullness level is.(See the sample scale.)Did you reach comfortable satiety or did you exceed it? The more you become aware of your fullness level at satisfaction, the more you will know when a bite of food is your last—a most important step in respecting your fullness.Don’t get discouraged if this takes time.The important thing is you are on the road to recovery and not still signing-in at the clean-your-plate club for every meal.However, the flip side of this is there is no rule that says you must leave food on your plate.If you are hungry and not yet full, eat it all and enjoy! The key is to become conscious, learn how to respect fullness, and be free from the shackles of dieting.
Ten Core Principles of Intuitive Eating
by Evelyn Tribole, M.S., R. D. and Elyse Resch, M.S., R.D., F.A.D.A.
1. Reject the Diet Mentality
2. Honor Your Hunger
3. Make Peace with Food
4. Challenge the Food Police
5. Feel Your Fullness
6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor
7. Cope with Your Emotions without Using Food
8. Respect Your Body
9. Exercise–Feel the Difference
10. Honor Your Health–Gentle Nutrition
Cindy Mondello is a Licensed Professional Counselor and founder of Restoration Place Ministries, a local nonprofit organization offering significantly-discounted counseling services for women.For more information or to schedule an appointment with one of our therapists, call 336-508-8573 or visit us at http://www.restorationplaceministries.org.