Have you tried that old diet tip of stopping eating when you’re only half-full? Did it work? And how did you know that you were fully satisfied if you stopped before your hunger cues gave you the go-ahead? Most of us need clear and obvious signals from the body-mind that tell us when to stop eating. Otherwise, we feel deprived somehow, like we’re on a ‘diet’. In fact, we may be depriving ourselves of the nutrients we need if we don’t listen closely to our innate prompting.
The feeling of being half-full could be a nod that we should stop eating soon, but for most of us, we need enough time and a few good signals to tell us if anything in the meal was unsatisfactory or lacking. Otherwise, we may find ourselves hungry again within an hour or so, craving sweets or fatty foods, or fatigued with a rapid drop in energy.
The remedy comes with what I call being full and satisfied at each meal. Being full and satisfied on all levels is a good indication of a well-rounded, energy-inducing, nutrient-rich meal, and should be one of the first things we look for when deciding to stop eating.
‘Full and Satisfied’ vs. ‘Stuffed to the Puff’
One clarifying statement here… By ‘full and satisfied’ I do not mean eating to your heart’s content to where, all of a sudden, your jeans are extra tight in the middle, and you are suffering from indigestion even before you’ve put down your fork!
By ‘full’, I mean that the stomach feels sated in a comfortable way, and you sense it’s a good time to stopbefore the point of no return. Sometimes this moment is hallmarked with a deep breath or a sigh.
By ‘satisfied’, I mean that, on an emotional and cellular level, the meal feels complete and nourishing, and your energy has been restored. You might also feel a sense of confidence that the meal can carry you 4-5 hours, preferably all the way into the next meal.
When a meal is inadequate for you, your body will enlighten you to the situation. Here’s how:
- You have a sense that the meal was incomplete
- You feel physically full, but are still “hungry”
- You keep eating bite after bite of the same food, hoping it will fill you up, even though you know it isn’t satisfying you
- You are craving something sweet, salty or fatty right after, or shortly after, the meal
- You feel the need to snack within 1-3 hours after eating
- Your energy isn’t restored after eating
- You can’t think clearly
- You feel emotionally imbalanced
So instead of coming to a grinding halt when you’re half-full (out of fear that you’ll keep eating ‘til you’re stuffed) mindfully approach the comfortably full and satisfied peak, asking yourself these three questions at every step of the way – before, during and after eating:
- Is this meal satisfying me right now?
- Am I getting enough of all five flavors: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and savory?
- If I stop now, or if I don’t add or take away anything to my plate, will this meal carry me until dinner?
And I have a few questions for you too!
- How do you know when YOU are full and satisfied?
- Do you ever keep eating the same food hoping it will fill you up, only to find that it isn’t truly satisfying you?
- How often does your energy crash or do you have food cravings between meals?
I’d love to hear your comments below.