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Last week I discussed eating when hungry but you also need to identify when you are full so that most times that is when you stop eating. Obviously there are times when you will override this fullness feeling perhaps on special occasions but you will be surprised how often you will not do this when you stop eating to external rules but instead are listening to your own body.
Listening to your body signals is very important when trying to identify both hunger and fullness. When on a diet most people will be trying to eat a certain amount of food or portion size. Some days this is appropriate and some days it will be too little or too much. Other times if people are not identifying whether they are hungry or not and eating for other reasons they may eat large amounts of what their particular diet calls free foods which won’t satisfy the problem they have and may leave them feeling uncomfortably full and unsatisfied.
So now that you have started to identify hunger from using the hunger/fullness scale it’s time to identify your fullness level and work out when it is best to stop eating bearing in mind if hungry at any time after we stop its ok to eat again. Last week I said you should start to eat before reaching the very hungry stage equally you need to try to stop eating before you reach the very full uncomfortable stage. At the beginning this is likely to be hard to achieve as when you eat it takes some time for the food to reach your stomach. When you start this way of eating you might overeat and then feel uncomfortably full. On the other hand you might under eat because you are so used to eating diet portions of food or maybe think when you reach a 5 on the hunger/fullness scale, where you no longer feel hungry but equally don’t feel full, this is the best place to be. If the latter is the case you will find that you will drop into the hunger zone quicker and may need to eat more often and over time you may find that you want to eat a little more at meals so that you don’t have to eat so often.
So now, once you have stated to identify how hungry you are before you eat and how full you are after you eat, you need to work out what you and your body wants to eat. To do this maybe take a look at my blog on “tasty foods can be healthy” and asking yourself some questions about what you want to eat starting with questions about the 3 T’s Taste, Temperature and Texture.
Another issue that people sometimes have particularly when they are choosing foods based on what they want to eat rather than what they think they should eat is that sometimes the food they choose doesn’t fill them for as long as they want and they need to eat again sooner than they thought. This is ok if food is available and they can eat but not so good if they are perhaps working in a job where it’s difficult to eat again until the next meal break. You might discover if you eat a meal made up mostly starchy carbohydrate e.g. toast at breakfast that you are hungry again within an hour or two but if you add some protein or fat to it e.g. boiled egg and toast or avocado on toast that the addition of a protein food or a high fat food keeps you fuller for longer.
If you want to use this approach of eating when hungry stop several times in the day to see where you are on the hunger and fullness scale and also stopping half way through your meal and seeing how full you feel. You may still want to clear your plate but if you find you are feeling full when halfway through meal then the next time you have a similar meal when you are at a similar level of hunger you may decide to choose to put a little less on your plate. You are on a journey of discovery and this will take time, some days you will get it right for you better than other days. Just enjoy the journey and always treat yourself with kindness.