It’s common for us to misinterpret our fullness.
We will often define fullness as feeling “stuffed”.
Or uncomfortably full.
We tend to do this when we’ve lost the ability to access our natural fullness cues.
Which we need to tell us when we should stop eating in a way that serves our bodies.
In this episode, I explain what natural fullness really entails.
And how you can access your natural fullness to tell you when to stop eating, always.
Hello, friend. Welcome back to the podcast. It is 50 degrees in Florida today. And I am freezing my butt off. And while I realize how obnoxious this will sound to those of you who actually live in cold climates, I am over here bundled up in a blanket and sipping hot tea as I record this episode for you. And I’m just in my element right now. I have my slippers on. Some fuzzy socks. And also keep in mind this is alongside the fact that I also got fully dressed today as usual. So, full face of makeup. Hair done. And fuzzy socks and slippers. No shame, right? At this point I think I can finally consider myself a Florida girl when I bundle up at anything under 65 degrees.
But anyways. This week, I want to talk with you all about natural fullness. Last week I talked to you all about natural hunger and what that really means. And how you can determine when you’re naturally hungry according to your inherent body wisdom. So, this week we’re going to touch on the other side of the spectrum. Which is when you’re naturally full.
And I kind of mentioned this in the last episode, but our interpretations of when we’re hungry and when we’re full tend to be kind of shallow. So, I know in the past for me, I would constantly say “I’m so hungry” or “Gosh, I’m so full” without any real awareness of what that really meant for my body. And obviously, right? This is something people say. It’s how we express what our bodies need. But I found, for me especially, that I didn’t even really know what my body was needing when it came to my hunger. Or when it came to how full I actually was. The times when I would say “I’m so full” would usually just be the times when I was overly stuffed and uncomfortable. And I find this is the case with women I work with today. It’s very interesting. For many of us, saying “I’m full” means that we’re overly stuffed. Or something else a little bit exaggerated and dramatic for our bodies. And I want to share a little fun fact with you. Which is, that natural fullness is actually just the feeling of being satisfied and content. It’s actually very neutral and non-dramatic. It’s never supposed to feel like this extra weight on your body. And it’s never supposed to feel so exaggerated. Natural fullness is meant to feel very neutral. And it’s super interesting to think about, because almost no one is really thinking about fullness this way. I know I certainly didn’t in the past. I truly thought that being properly full, meant I felt literally super full in my stomach. That I felt a good amount more sluggish and heavy when getting up from the table, then I did sitting down at the table. So, to start. I really want to clear that up. Natural fullness is neutral and non-dramatic.
Now, I want to talk about how we started interpreting fullness this way. Because so many of us have this belief that fullness is this dramatic, filling sensation after a meal. And we actually aren’t born with that belief around fullness. The truth is, our bodies have everything they need to tell us when we’re naturally full in a non-dramatic way. What has happened is we have been conditioned in our brains and bodies, as a society, to interpret fullness as a more dramatic concept. So, here’s why that happens. It’s because most of us have suppressed our natural fullness cues over time. So, if you listened to the last episode on Natural Hunger we talked about how this happens with your hunger cues as well. But with fullness cues, you suppress them by eating past the point when you naturally feel full. And when I say you suppress your fullness cues I mean you lose your ability to access them. So, by eating past the point of fullness regularly, and ignoring these fullness cues, over time you’ve lost your ability to access the fullness cues at all. Thereby causing you to eat past the point of fullness even more regularly. And here’s why this occurs. Why you’re eating past the point of natural fullness. And why you’re eating too much. Because it’s common for so many of us to fill other needs we have with food. Many of us aren’t just eating because we feel hungry. And many of us aren’t eating so we can feel comfortably full. We’re eating to fill other voids we might have in life. And these tend to be emotional voids. So, these can look different for everyone. Common emotional voids include loneliness, lack of success, lack of connection or validation, a lack of intimacy, or even a lack of purpose. It’s common for people to try and fill up with food past the point of natural fullness, because they’re trying to fill an emotional void they’re experiencing. And many of the humans can relate to this. It kind of comes with the package. I’ve certainly experienced some of these emotional voids in my life. But, we get into a bit of trouble when we try to fill those emotional voids with food. And this can be really sneaky. To the point where it’s happening long-term. And through those overeating, emotional eating, and mindless eating patterns, the fullness cues eventually become totally suppressed. Where you’re no longer able to tell if you’re naturally full or not. What happens is you become incapable of knowing when to stop eating. In a way that actually serves you.
So, at this point I want you to quickly think to yourself, “What does fullness mean to you right now?”. If you had to define it in your body, what does fullness feel like for you? What is that experience like for you physically in your body? And at what point while eating do you consider yourself full? Just be totally honest with yourself and get curious about it. If you find yourself eating a bit too much, then chances are, your interpretation of natural fullness is a little off. And that’s okay. This isn’t a problem. We just want to have awareness around that.
And keep in mind that how you interpret fullness or natural fullness will always be highly individual to you. There’s no real textbook definition on what comfortable, easy, natural fullness should feel like. It is meant to feel very non-dramatic and neutral. But how you describe that sensation needs to be highly individual to you. Because you will need to begin practicing the act of being the expert of your own body. So you’re not looking for all the answers outside of yourself. I always preach this but it’s so important. The person you can trust the most to tell you when to stop eating, or when you’re naturally full, is you. No one can do it better than you.
That being said, there is a tool you can use to better understand your fullness levels right now. In the last episode, we talked about the hunger scale and here I’m going to talk about the fullness scale. Now, to be clear they are actually the same scale. What it looks like is a straight line with zero in the middle. And this zero represents when your body feels completely neutral. So it doesn’t feel hungry or full. On the left side of the scale, it gets into the negatives. So negative one all the way to negative five. This side of the scale is representative of hunger. If you want to learn more about that be sure to go back and listen to the episode on Natural Hunger. Here, we’re going to focus on the right side of the scale. Which is positive one, which indicates the lowest level of fullness. So this would be when you feel perfectly satisfied. All the way to positive five, which is the highest level of fullness. I think about the highest level of fullness as when I feel completely sick. Like eaten way past the point that my body can handle. And you get to define what one to five looks like for you in terms of fullness. So, the halfway point at three might be when you’re comfortably full. Four might be when you feel stuffed. Five might be when you feel uncomfortably full, right? But similar to what you did with hunger, if you listened to the last episode, I want you to physically get out a piece of paper. Draw this scale out. And define each level of the fullness scale for yourself. Write what each level of the scale looks like to you in terms of fullness. And don’t worry about perfection here. There’s no wrong way to do this when you’re just observing. I’ve mentioned this before, but instead of just handing out this scale to my clients, which I could technically do, I have them do this for themselves first. Because they need to come up with their definitions of fullness, and hunger, for themselves. This is teaching them to be the scientist, leader, and expert of their own body. And I know for me in the past, and I’m sure many of you can relate to this, that I was just really used to looking for all of the answers outside of myself. Especially when that came to food, diet, weight loss – all of those things. I thought I needed an expert to tell me how my body was feeling. Or what foods were best for my body. And what I want you to do is to practice unlearning this method of thinking a bit. And to step into the role in your own life that you are the expert. And you become the expert by being really curious everyday. And noticing what’s working and what’s not working. So, this is how I want you to approach the scale.
And here’s the thing. As you go through this journey, you’ll start noticing your fullness cues from your body. And you’ll be getting really curious and observing it throughout the day. Over time, It’s likely that your definitions for each level of fullness will change. Because you’ll be gaining a more accurate awareness of them. Your interpretation of what natural fullness feels like to you now, might not be what it feels like in the future. So, just start doing this for yourself. And just notice what’s going on there. It will open your eyes to so much.
Now, once you’ve written this scale out and you’ve had a chance to think about the different levels of fullness, I want you to ask yourself a few questions. First, I want you to ask yourself what trends you notice with your fullness levels? By the time you stop eating, does your fullness tend to be neutral, comfortable, or uncomfortable? And what does neutral, comfortable, and uncomfortable fullness physically feel like in your body? How would you distinguish those different levels? And for you, I want you to ask yourself, what level on the scale does fullness feel “just right”?
The goal of all of this, and really everything with my work, is to become a very intentional eater. So, I obviously kind of market and talk about myself in terms of healthy eating. But when it comes down to it, the goal I have for my clients and everyone else is to become an intentional eater. As in, everything they eat becomes an empowered and intentional decision that they make. It’s that simple. And in terms of observing your fullness and noticing what’s there, there are ways you can do this very intentionally throughout your day. In very small ways.
First, you can make it a practice of simply asking yourself what your fullness level is when you stop eating. Not in a restrictive way where you’re being really hard on yourself and thinking about it all the time. But you’re just checking in. You’re saying “Hey body. How are we feeling right now? What level of fullness are we at? Is this something we want to repeat in the future?”. I know it sounds silly. But talk to your body a bit. You don’t have to do this out loud. In fact, I highly recommend you don’t. You might get some looks. But just check in when you finish eating. And notice what’s there.
Second, you can practice taking mid-meal breaks. Now, I highly recommend this for a very important reason. It can take up to 30 minutes for your body to experience fullness after eating. 30 minutes. Now, this depends on other factors as well. Like, the type of foods you’re eating, how quickly you’re eating, etc. But, point is, it takes time for your body to process that. So, take those mid-meal breaks. Make it a practice where you stop eating for a bit. Check in with your body after a while. And then intentionally decide whether you want to keep eating. Or whether you’re comfortably full. This can be honestly life-changing if you practice this.
Third, I highly recommend you practice eating without distractions. Now, this doesn’t mean that you need to eat by yourself or that you have to eat in an empty room. It just means you’re creating a very calm and intentional space during your meals. For example, if you’re eating in the car, during a work meeting, or while you’re watching TV – it can make it difficult for you to access your fullness cues. And to check in with yourself there. Because you’ll be distracted, right? So, try and find little pockets of time where you can just focus on your meal. Maybe that means you take 15 minutes and eat at your desk while you listen to some music. Maybe this means you eat at your kitchen table instead of in front of the TV. And the goal isn’t for you necessarily to do this forever. This is just for you to get really familiar with your natural hunger right now. While you’re still getting used to having that awareness.
So, to practice intentionally eating and to practice checking in with your natural fullness, I highly recommend those three things. They will help you tremendously. Just know that the key to doing all of this is to have a genuine curiosity for what works for you and your body. Curiosity always wins. Along with compassion when things don’t go as planned. Or maybe you eat a little too much. Always be compassionate with yourself and the fact that you’re learning. And practice genuinely having love, respect, and care for your body when you’re eating food. This way, it becomes easier for you to honor your natural fullness and to stop feeding your body when it’s full. Alright my dear friend. I hope you learned all of the things. And I’ll talk with you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.