Struggling to stop eating when you’re full? Ask yourself these questions.

One of the main principles of intuitive eating is ‘respect your fullness.’ 

Do you struggle to stop eating when you’re full?

If so, you’re not alone. 

Not only did this happen to be the principle that I struggled the most with years ago when I was first learning to eat intuitively but it was also one of the topics that comes up most often with clients.

The reason why respecting your fullness and being able to stop eating when you’re full can be so challenging is because it requires you to address a lot of different areas.

It’s not quite as simple as saying, ‘just stop eating when you’re full!’ ​

Being able to stop eating when you’re full requires you to…

  • ​feel comfortable eating when you’re hungry, which means eating when you feel hungry regularly
  • be free from food rules, which means practicing unconditional permission to eat
  • nourish your body regularly, which means you’re no longer restricting
  • be able to feel your body’s fulness signals, which means moving away from loads of mealtime distractions so you can tune in to how you feel
  • eat foods that you enjoy, which means making satisfying and nourishing choices most of the time; and
  • feel safe to feel feelings, deal with situations, or process emotions that you will have to feel, deal with, or process when you stop eating. 

See? It’s not quite as simple as saying, ‘just stop eating when you’re full!’ Our relationships with food are nuanced.

Here are a few questions you can ask yourself if you’re struggling to stop eating when you’re full:

Do you eat when you’re hungry most of the time?

If you’re not eating when you’re hungry on a regular basis, then stopping when you’re full feels scary because your mind and body don’t trust that you’ll get food again when you need it. It creates a famine mindset. 

Do you have any food rules (i.e. ‘I shouldn’t / can’t eat that food’ or ‘I’m not allowed to eat past X time of the day’ or ‘I have to wait X number of hours between meals’)?

Food rules make it hard for us to stop eating because we don’t feel safe that we can have that particular food again if we want it and / or we don’t feel safe that we can have food in general later if we need it. This promotes the ‘last meal mentality’ where we want to keep eating because it’s our last chance. Food rules are another way the famine mindset can get triggered. 

Are you restricting in any way?

This could mean over exercising, it could mean calorie counting, it could mean eliminating a macro nutrient, it could mean allowing yourself to go hungry, it could mean prohibiting an entire food group. Be honest with yourself here because when you’re experiencing restriction it makes it just about impossible to respect fullness (again, because it triggers the whole famine thing). 

Are you paying attention when you eat?

Are you eating your meals while being pulled in 100 different directions? It’s hard to tune in to your body when you’re being distracted. Make your eating experiences as peaceful and relaxing as possible within your real life. Close your email for 5 minutes, sit down if possible, take a few deep breaths, and practice chewing your food thoroughly. Being present with your food is powerful and essential when you’re learning to respect fullness. After all, how can you stop eating when you’re full if you don’t even realize you’re full in the first place?

Are your meals satisfying and yummy?

When you feel full but not satisfied, it’s hard to stop eating! You want to experience both as often as possible and satisfaction comes when you’re eating a nice variety of foods that you enjoy. 

Do you feel safe to feel your feelings, deal with uncomfortable moments, and / or process your emotions?

Sometimes we keep eating because it distracts us from the things in life we don’t want to deal with. Check in with what emotions, feelings, or situations feel hard for you so you can start to develop the skills, resilience, and self care tools necessary to be present with them. 

Which of these questions resonates most with where you’re currently at in your relationship with food? Comment below and let me know!

Here’s to getting curious!

xo, Sim

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