How to Eat Until You’re Satisfied (and Not Too Full)by Elise Museles
Picture this: it’s mid-morning on a Saturday, and you’re scrolling through emails while standing by the stove, absentmindedly nibbling handfuls of the fresh-out-of-the-oven granola you just made (it smells soooo good). A little later in the day, inspired by your favorite Instagram account, you whip up a generously portioned smoothie bowl for two – then demolish the whole thing in one sitting.
Then while preparing dinner, you find yourself sampling the Cauliflower “Fried” Rice over the sink, just to be sure it tastes right. And it does! So, at the end of the meal, when there’s not quite enough for leftovers, you quickly polish off the last few bites. As you tuck into bed, you realize that you feel uncomfortably full, even though you spent your day eating all the “right” things.
And there you have it: the crucial difference between feeling “full” and being “satisfied.”
If you follow me on social media, you’ve likely seen me admit to my [unhealthy] habit of eating tray after tray of Roasted Sweet Potatoes without sitting down or waiting for my family. While it could be a far less healthy indulgence, I never feel good when I eat past the point of no-longer-hungry. It means I’ve stopped listening to my body – and my body responds with discomfort, letting me know that I’ve had more than I need.
For most of us, when we eat too much, it doesn’t matter whether it’s a batch of Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies or a colorful Red Velvet Smoothie; those feelings of overindulgence are a slippery slope. First, we feel guilty; internalizing that guilt, we then feel bad about ourselves. Is there any worse feeling than staring at an empty container of hummus and thinking,
“I have no willpower.”
“Why can’t I control myself around food?”
“I’ll never be happy with myself until I learn to shut my mouth.”
No matter what we’re eating, our meals and bodies should always be treated with love and respect. That means tuning in and paying attention so that we can hear our bodies when they say they’ve had enough. (Yes, even enough kale salad!) It means turning our minds toward the food that we’re eating when we’re eating it – and nothing else.
If you can relate to this uncomfortable sense of overindulgence, it’s likely that you’re not tuning into your body when you’re eating. When we snack and snack and snack just because it tastes good, without making any connection to our bodies’ actual hunger level (or the signals they give us when they’re satisfied), we set ourselves up to feel bad – physically and mentally.
If you’re nodding along, you’re not alone! Here are a few tricks that help me stop picking at the Maple Crunch Granola when I know I’m full:
Sit Down and Use a Plate
This might seem obvious, but it is worth a reminder: when we eat on the go (munching on a Mason Jar Salad as we drive or distractedly nibbling an Orange Spice Bliss Balls as we answer emails), our bodies sometimes don’t even realize that what just happened was a meal. And when we indulge in mindless snacking and full meals, we often eat more than we might like. What’s worse: we don’t really enjoy any of it.
So the next time you make yourself a Sweet Potato Latte to have with Cookie Dough Balls, take a seat at the table and make sure to put your snack on a plate. You’ll be amazed how much better (and more nourished!) you feel when your body recognizes that you’ve eaten.
Determine Whether You’re Really Hungry
This is a big one! So many of us eat for reasons other than hunger: stress, boredom, even loneliness. Take a deep breath, then check in with yourself: when was the last time you ate? Are you really thirsty and misinterpreting it for hunger? Are you eating for the right reasons? Is there something else that would make you feel equally satisfied? Tempt yourself with a walk, a phone call with a friend, or a non-conventional form of meditation. If none of that dissuades you, it’s likely that you really do need to eat.
Put Away Your Devices
I know it can be hard to tear your eyes away from the computer, television, or phone. But when multitasking takes us away from the food in front of us, it diminishes our ability to enjoy our meal. As simple as it sounds, you should strive to eat when you’re eating. The only way to tune in and know how a food makes you feel – and to be able to stop when you’ve had enough – is to be fully present during meals.
Chew Your Food
You’ve likely heard this before, but many of us gulp down our green juice and chomp our vegetables only once or twice. Our brains don’t immediately register that our stomachs are full, literally outpacing our body’s ability to communicate that we’ve had enough. By the time our brains catch up, our stomachs are uncomfortably stuffed or even bloated.
Chewing is an important step in the digestion process, and if you don’t chew thoroughly, it’s harder for your body to absorb all the nutrients and energy from the food you’re eating. Plus, when you slow down and eat in a relaxed state, your body functions more efficiently and can do what it’s supposed to do with all the nourishing food you’re feeding it. And that feels great.
Of course, none of us are perfect. We all occasionally find ourselves mindlessly eating chocolate protein bars during the evening commute. But when you make a commitment to eat slowly and consciously, you give your body the sympathetic ear that it always needs. And you’ll never go wrong when you’re listening. Satisfaction guaranteed!
Have you ever found yourself eating mindlessly, or overeating, even healthy food? How do you give your body the attention it deserves? Tell me in the comments!