How to stop eating when you're full

I've talked about this before on the blog.

The holidays used to be horrible for me for overeating. I hated going to parties where there was a lot of finger food and nothing too hearty. I'd never get to the flatbread in time. So, cookies being my fave, I ate a bunch of 'em. Well past the point of fullness. 

Nowadays to avoid the terrible overly full feeling, I have a few strategies. 

Here's what to do to stop eating past the point of fullness (if you want to). 

1. Give yourself full permission to eat. 

This is the most important step. You can't do anything else on this list effectively unless you give yourself permission. 

Often times our subconscious minds tell us that this is our last chance to eat something. Meanwhile, our conscious mind is trying to get us to stop. 

This is part of the binge-restrict cycle. When we think we can't have something, we stop eating it. Then, when we face it, we feel like we can't have it. So we go craaaaaaaazzzzzzzzzyyyyy on it. It is, after all, our last chance. 

2. Eat when you're hungry.


This one is pretty intuitive. But diet culture teaches us that eating is bad in general. 

The worst line I ever read on a diet website was, "You're on a diet. You're going to be hungry. You just have to learn how to deal with it." 

Why? That's cray. Why would it be healthy to ignore a cue from your body. If I started bleeding out of my face, I wouldn't be like, "I'll just ignore this." So, why do we do this with food?

3. Pick foods that fill you up so you don't get voraciously hungry. 

 You can keep hoping that the ramen noodles you bought will last you until dinnertime. This would be a false hope, Luke Skywalker. (Get it?! A New Hope? #starwars #rogueone #nextweekend #nerdsarecool)

Dietitians love to show people this chart that shows how your blood sugar rises and falls.  In it, we see that carbohydrates spike your blood sugar, then fall. Protein lasts longer than carbs and fat lasts the longest. Fiber helps to sustain fullness for longer. Soluble fiber, found in most fruits and veggies, takes your body longer to digest. So, it hangs out in your stomach for longer. 

 An easy way to prevent yourself from overstuffing is by eating MORE at other meals. You can add peanut butter to your apple.  You can add hummus to your carrots. You can add chicken to your salad. You can just have a snack between lunch and dinner. 

4. Satisfy your Cravings. 

See #1 again. 

Satiety can also be psychological. For example, if I'm craving a hamburger, I usually don't feel "full" until I get that burger. I can snack all night on mango slices and never feel "full" because I never let myself just have what I wanted. 

Sometimes it's better to have the real thing. I can tell you from experience that you can eat all the different varieties of vegan macaroni and cheese. It just doesn't satisfy like the real thing. 

 By all means, don't hurt yourself. I do not recommend eating something you're allergic to. Anaphylactic shock can kill you. Overeating is less likely to kill you. 

5. Give yourself time to eat


In today's busy world, we often don't have time to eat. We eat while we're working. We eat while we're driving. We eat while we're watching tv. We eat while we're trying to do something else. 

Not only is that a recipe for indigestion, but it's also a way of disconnecting you from your body. Chewing is hard to do while shoveling a sandwich down during a long commute. Chewing is an important part of digestion. Without it, you might feel bloated. 

 If you sit down to a square meal, you might find it more satisfying. 

 6. Make a plate

Sometimes putting food on a plate shows us how much food it is so we can feel like we actually got a square meal. 

When I get a hankering for snackies, I find it useful to fill up a bowl or a plate with said snackies. As with holiday parties, sometimes snacks don't seem like they can add up to a meal. But, they can. It's a fine way to eat a meal. That's why the Spanish love their tapas. 

7. Listen to your body

Overeating is often symptomatic of other issues. 

It could be the result of not feeding your body when you were hungry. It could be the result of not satisfying a craving. It could be feelings. You could be in a rush and not have time to chew. 

Overeating is just eating more than your tummy can hold. Slow down and try to listen to your body when you're hungry and when you're full. 

You don't have to sit down on a meditation pillow and chant oms between each bite of food. Just remember that eating is about taking care of yourself. 

You don't have to feel shame about eating. You don't have to eat in a rush. You don't have to eat food that you hate. You CAN eat food you love. You CAN take time for yourself.  You CAN eat food that makes you FEEL better. No shame necessary. 

Most importantly, don't be too hard on yourself. It's just a little too much food. 

Why we "overeat"

Since I started eating intuitively, I haven't really been "too full."

Back in my dieting days, I would often find myself in situations where my belly would be terribly full. 

I've talked about this before in my mac and cheese episode  and exercise is a drug post.

Many things cause overeating. Want to figure out the reason you can't stop? 

Here are three common motivations for overstuffing: 

1. Dieting

So says the great and powerful Isabel Foxen Duke

"The only time you will ever feel 'out of control' around a specific food, is when you’re trying to control it to begin with."

Why would you feel "out of control" if you're not controlling food in the first place?

Science shows how restriction can lead to binging. The most famous experiment was the Minnesota Starvation Experiment. Young men followed a strict "semi-starvation" diet for a period of 24 weeks.  A few of the dudes had a "complete breakdown in control." and broke into the food supply. 

Dieting creates scarcity. Your body doesn't know the difference between a diet and a famine. When you get your hands on a batch of fresh-baked cookies, your survival instincts kick in.

Even perceived restriction can lead to overeating. This is what the intuitive eating ladies call "last supper" mentality. You go nuts on food because your gut thinks there's not more coming soon. 

This made sense to the prehistoric humans who understood that winter was coming. Your body knows to eat a little extra and store it on your booty for the those colder months.. 

2. Feelings

I read through a BUNCH of binge eating disorder websites to write this bloggy post. They all refer to "psychology" as a reason for binge eating. 

I like to think psychology is fancy doctor-speak for feelings. Food is fantastic at numbing. It's also designed to make you feel good. A lot of foods activate dopamine and serotonin responses in your brain.

I used to eat a TON of cereal after I spent all day working as a cashier. I was depressed and I wanted to feel better.

When I was chowing down on my cinnamon sweeties, I was able to zone out on Hulu and simple sugars. It felt good to be "bad." Sia would call it a cheap thrill. Eating a few bowls of cereal at 11 pm at night was the most exciting part of my excruciatingly boring day. 

I think emotional eating gets a bad wrap. It's not IDEAL to shove your feelings down into a box of cereal but for me, that habit helped me cope with a difficult part of my life. Since I quit the job, I haven't eaten that cereal at all. 

3. Because you want to

Sometimes, I just eat a lot of something because it is, for real, not something I'm going to have later. For example, when I lived in Argentina, I ate spoonfuls of dulce de leche (it is BOMB there). 

I eat an extra serving at Thanksgiving because it's not going to be around for another year. Thanksgiving is an elaborate meal that we have a national holiday just to prepare for. Ain't nobody got time for all those side dishes any other time of year. 

Whatever the reason, it's OKAY to overeat sometimes. But, if you want to prevent that gaseous uncomfortable fullness in the future, subscribe below. 

Your Excuse to Eat Whatever You Want

This is your excuse to eat the chocolate covered whatever. 

What if it were healthy to eat chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels? 

When I worked for an eating disorder treatment center, this was a no-brainer. The sickest patients needed to eat.  

The staff encouraged clients to eat caloric snacks and presented them with "fear foods." These "fear foods" included cookie butter, oreos, and chocolate covered peanut butter pretzels. 

These women NEEDED these snacks. 

They needed them because they needed something with lots of protein and fat. They needed them because they needed the calories. They needed them because they needed to have a neutral relationship with food. 

At the eating disorder treatment center, the dietitians often used nutrition to support this. For example, we might explain to a patient that ice cream has calcium.  Butter, too, has some nutritional benefits. 

Food serves several roles in our lives. 

We need nutrients to survive. Protein and fat are two critical macro nutrients. Macro is Greek for large. In other words, it means they are a large part of nutrients we need. (cite sources). 

Calories give our bodies the fuel it needs to do its thing. Calories are just a measure of energy. (cite source). 

We need to feel normal around food. Feeling crazy around food is asking for trouble. We eat food three times a day at least. Would you think it's healthy to feel crazy three times every day? 

We need to eat to re-connect. This is where I get all weird and religious. Going to church as a kid and eating transubstantiated Jesus was about "communion." It's about getting together with your neighbors, hanging out and eating. This can be a spiritual practice if that word doesn't freak you out or it can be social or emotional.

Dieting and eating disorders isolate people. They make it harder to cook a meal for everyone. They make it harder for everyone to eat together. 

 Try to remember that food is something you're supposed to eat. 

I remember when I was a kid, I used to just think all foods were healthy and good for me. I never worried that food was poisoning me. 

My goal as a coach is to make you feel that way again. I want to make you feel like you are safe and able to eat without fear.  

Before you jump in with your rebuttal, I know we live in a post Michael Pollan world. We can't run around and believe that we will get our daily value of magnesium from 24 oz Coke products. But, I think we can find something valuable from anything we might choose to consume. 

Is there any food that you're afraid of? Write it down in the comments. I've got my college nutrition book out and my thinking cap on. I will respond to everything with a reason why it might be healthy to eat it. Extra credit if you have your own reason.

Don't worry about other people being fat, either

Don't worry about other people being fat, either

At least 100 times since I've started my vigilante effort to help women quit dieting, I've encountered people who oppose the idea. 

They look at me skeptically and say things like, "fat people are lazy." They believe that if someone is not trying to diet, the heavens punish them with extra weight. They believe fat people only exist because they failed to abide by [insert diet of choice].

Last week we talked about shame. I talked about all the reasons that shame doesn't work to make you thinner. Just like shame doesn't work for you, it doesn't work for other people. 

The DANGER of Focusing on Weight Loss

The DANGER of Focusing on Weight Loss

You've heard from me before about the dubious links between weight loss and health. 

It's how we psychologically twist a need to be skinny or good looking into "self-care." It's also how we mix up "concern" with discrimination. But, sometimes, focusing on weight loss can be unsafe. .

The best example of this is...pregnancy. 

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