How to know when your body has enough to eat
One of the things my clients often lament about is that they receive no signals from their bodies to let them know when to stop eating. This is common for several reasons:
1. After years of restricting calories and then binging on the foods that were restricted for so long the body no longer trusts you and ceases to give you accurate readings about what is going on.
2.Hunger hormones have also shifted from years of chronic and yo-yo dieting attempts so it’s tougher to really say with certainty when the body has had enough.
3. Many people eat in either a stressful environment or while multitasking thus making it virtually impossible to listen to the subtle cues from the body letting you know when to stop eating.
So this begs the question:
What are the optimal conditions for tuning in and listening to what your body is asking of you and how can we learn to respect those cues, without fear or judgement? Make no mistake. We judge our appetites all the time and when we judge or ignore the signs and symptoms for long periods of time, eventually the wiring gets crossed and we get radio silence. (Or so we think.)
Here are some steps to start trusting, communicating and respecting your appetite again. This will eventually lead you to knowing exactly when your last bite will be, without any push or strain, dialogue or inner voice disrupting or disputing your decision.
- Find a quiet, non-distracting place to eat. Ie. not in front of the TV, not standing up and for God’s sake not while driving!
2. Take a minute to imagine this hunger timeline in front of you. Identify where on the timeline you are before taking a bite of food and once again mid-way through the meal
3. Drink the equivalent of 6-8 ounces of water, seltzer or tea before eating to take the edge off of extreme hunger, which often leads to fast eating and overeating.
4. To give yourself the best opportunity to notice fullness AND satiety be sure to include fiber, protein and a healthy fat to the meal.
5. Tune inward. Don’t eat by the clock, by a diet book or rule from a random dietary expert. Only you know what fuels your body and makes you feel your best. Only you know when you’re full and that may run counter to what you think should make you full. Bottom line. Don’t “should” yourself to stop eating when you know your body still needs fuel, ie “I have eaten so much! I should be full by now.” Focusing on the should’s only leads to more miscommunication, less trust and more judgement.
6. Practice mindful eating. Take my free 7-day mindful eating mini-course to start learning how.
7. Notice when your body feels light, fueled, energetic yet grounded. This is the sweet spot when your body has had enough. If you feel bogged down, fatigued or bloated it’s likely past the sweet spot. Not to worry. Just repeat steps 1-6 and try again with your next meal!
We all have the intrinsic ability to know exactly when our bodies have had enough food for that meal, just like other animals in the kingdom. It’s up to us, however to start trusting that wisdom and running the experiment to get back in touch with these subtle yet important ways our body communicates with us.
Which of these strategies will you try first? Sound off below!