It’s dinner time but you’re worried – how to know when you are full?
Just the other day a woman told me a story. She had prepared a delicious meal for her family and she was in excellent spirits. Her kids were around her and so was her husband.
The table conversation was nice and her family helped her clean the dishes afterwards. Yeah while her family was helping clean up, this woman’s stomach was stretched to the max.
She had eaten too much, and needed to sit down. She had to stop cleaning up.
Once she stopped cleaning and sat on the couch, she felt tremendous guilt. Here she was again – way too full and feeling guilty.
Here are three steps you can apply to understand how to know when you are full:
- Savor and eat slowly – slow down. Speed isn’t worth it.
- Know ‘Yellow Light’ signal – notice when food starts decreasing in taste
- Reflect and learn without guilt – think about how your stomach felt what you can do differently next time
Below is my commentary where I dive of more into these steps. Enjoy!
How To Know When You Are Full Commentary:
Now I will describe these steps in more detail starting with step 3 and going backwards.
Imagine a stop light with green, yellow, and a red light.
Green is when you start the meal. Yellow is when you slow down eating. Red is when you finally stop eating.
When we drive our car, it seems very easy to slow down and stop. Yet eating is much different.
Here are a few reasons why it’s hard to know how to know when you are full:
- Emotions seem like hunger signals
- Eat to avoid stress
- Automatic habits
- Social pressure
- You haven’t eaten enough and are unknowingly rebound eating
- You feel deprived
Basically, don’t judge yourself or feel guilty if you struggle to stop eating. In fact, this is step 3.
Don’t feel guilty. This red light, yellow light, green light strategy I learned in Intuitive Eating training will take time to perfect. It’s not an overnight solution but a skill you can practice and ultimately master.
In order to master the skill of how to know when your full, you’ll need to be able to reflect upon your eating experiences without guilt.
Because it’s easy to understand the strategy while reading a blog article, but harder to actually apply the strategy in a real life situation.
I remember when I first started driving, with my dad in the side passenger seat. We started at my middle school in the foothills of Sacramento.
We practiced there because there weren’t any cars. I did really well because there weren’t any cars!
Yet then the time came to actually go on the road.
I remember my first yellow light. I was going way too fast. My dad screamed at me, “SLOW DOWN!!!”.
I remember slamming on the brakes a few feet away from the stop light. We skidded out into the middle of the intersection.
I was panicking because I thought I did something wrong and that we were in danger.
We ended up all right, and obviously I have learned to drive since.
But the same thing will happen and eating.
You will get a yellow light signal which means for you to slow down you’re eating because you are approaching fullness.
Yet in the beginning you will overshoot the mark. You will go too far. So remember step 3, reflect on your experiences and evaluate without any guilt.
If you do overeat, be sure to reflect upon how the yellow light signal felt to you.
Now what exactly is this yellow light signal?
We are now on step 2.
The yellow light signal is a biological phenomenon. This physical sensation occurs when food doesn’t taste as good, in comparison to the beginning of a meal.
In the beginning of a meal, the food tastes the best. It’s delicious because you are hungry.
Yet at some point in the meal your body will start to give signals and clues that you no longer need to eat.
You can tell your body is trying to communicate to you to stop eating by noticing that your taste buds are registering less flavor.
This is a subtle cue, but you can definitely notice that taste decreases as you eat more of a food. This will help you know how to know when you are full.
So now you know. But let’s go to the first step, step 1.
Step 1 is simply slowing down and eating mindfully and savoring.
You don’t have to be extreme about slowing down. You don’t need to take 10 minutes to eat a meal.
But just making the conscious intention to eat 10% slower or to savor a few bites of your meal in the beginning makes all the difference.
The number one reason people miss the yellow light signal to slow down their eating is because they are rushing.
However, if you are distracted and playing on your phone while eating, you are not present and you will most likely miss the yellow light signal.
This is why snacking at night is so difficult. Because usually at night you are multitasking, watching TV, relaxing on your phone, answering emails.
So slow down, notice when your food starts tasting less because this is an indicator that you are getting full and it’s about time to stop eating. Finally, stop eating.
Remember this is a scale that will take time and that you overshoot in the beginning.
What do you think about this fullness training?