“Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes, and what your current hunger level is.”
Intuitive Eating, 3rd Edition (p. 121).
Do you belong to the clean-plate club? Were you taught that eating everything on your plate is the “right” thing to do even if you are feeling full? My mom tried this tactic on my once. She said, “Eat it all up…..there are kids starving in Ethiopia.” I responded by handing her my plate. She asked me what I wanted her to do with it and I told her to package it up and send it to the kids in Ethiopia because I was full and didn’t want anymore. It does not make sense for anyone to consume everything on their plate simply because someone else is starving in some other location. To me that seems more like hogging all the food and making sure that the starving people continue to starve. It also doesn’t make sense to eat everything on the plate simply because it’s there. If you are full (aka satisfied), then you are done eating.
It is not okay to make someone experience feelings of guilt simply because they left some food on their plate. Those feelings of guilt are not always placed there by well-meaning others; whether parents, siblings, co-workers, etc. Sometimes those feelings of guilt are just there because we have realized that our “eyes were bigger than our stomachs”….it’s time to live guilt free about the food we leave behind because we no longer want it. It is OKAY to leave food on our plate. I have always done this even when I’ve been on a highly restrictive diet. I’m thankful that THIS intuitive action never left me. I don’t feel guilty about leaving food behind when I’m no longer hungry. I actually feel like I’ve accomplished something good for me.
How do we get to this point? It’s challenging to feel your fullness when so many of us sit down to eat feeling ravenously hungry. Step one to being able to feel your fullness is eating when you are moderately hungry; even if that happens 30-minutes before the meal is “ready.” Next, an intuitive eater will take time to enjoy the meal; to savor each bite. Intuitive eaters chew slowly and they enjoy the social time with those around them. Intuitive eaters also check in with themselves to see how the food is tasting. Does the current bite taste as wonderful as the first bite. If not, the intuitive eater knows they are finished with this meal. They don’t feel any guilt about leaving any amount of food on the plate.
Let’s look at how dieting has effected the way one feels their fullness. I know for me when dieting I NEVER felt full – EVER. There was always a little hunger feeling left behind. When dieting, we’re told that this slight hunger feeling is a “good” thing and that it won’t hurt us to go a little hungry because it means that the body will turn toward it’s own fat stores for energy. Do you know that this is WRONG information? Anyone who makes this statement doesn’t understand how the body works.
What really happens is that the body will actually store MORE fat. Why? Because the body is smarter than we are….the body knows that hunger equals famine. Hunger means there isn’t enough food so it stores fat for survival. It has to survive the famine. It knows that once the famine is over, you’ll start eating more and THAT will signal the body that it can let go of the extra fat it has stored for this emergency. The reason that the fat release doesn’t happen is because we’ve all learned that the moment we binge (because we’re tired of feeling hungry all the time) we’ve made a mistake and we’ve ruined our chances of losing weight this time. The body thinks the famine is over because we’ve begun to binge and just as it gets ready to release fat, we get “back on track” with our diet and the famine starts all over again and the body begins to store more fat.
Are you ready to stop working against your body? If you are, then EAT. Reconnecting with your Intuitive Eater is the only way to stop the vicious cycle that is spinning out of control. One of the steps to reconnecting with your Intuitive Eater is to Feel the Fullness and when you do, stop eating. It’s okay if there’s food left on your plate….honestly it’s not the end of the world but it is the beginning of a REAL lifestyle change….