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3 Healthy Habits for a Healthier Lifestyle and Optimal Health

June 20, 2024

Self-Paced Course: Non-Diet Academy


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A Certified Eating Disorders Registered Dietitian (CEDRD) with a master's degree in dietetics & nutrition. My passion is helping you find peace with food - and within yourself.

Meet Katy

Picture this: You’re at a charming little restaurant, savoring the most delectable pasta you’ve ever had. The sauce is tangy and rich, perfectly coating the noodles. Despite feeling full, you take a few more bites because it’s just so delicious. Now, you’re really full and facing a dilemma: stop eating to avoid feeling stuffed and miserable, or continue because it’s too good to waste, and reheating leftovers might not do it justice.

Have you been there? I certainly have.

The Struggle with Permission to Eat and Overindulgence

It’s particularly challenging if ordering that pasta was a big deal for you—maybe in the past, you avoided such dishes due to diet culture or macro tracking. Ordering it felt liberating yet scary, confirming your fears about not trusting yourself with certain foods. But it’s entirely possible to reach a point where you naturally stop eating when full, even with your favorite dishes. When we eat past fullness, we’re not trusting those hunger and fullness cues, which causes us to bloat and can lead back to binge eating.

Eat to Feel Satisfied Without Restriction

Achieving peace with food isn’t instantaneous; it requires skill-building around recognizing hunger and fullness, choosing satisfying foods without mental debates about diet, and trusting that delicious food will always be available. Here’s my framework for navigating that moment when you’re full but still want to eat.

Step 1: The Anti-Diet: Pause and Check In Emotionally

Most people overlook their emotions around food in these situations. Whether feeling peaceful, happy, or upset, emotions influence eating behaviors. Ask yourself, “What would I be thinking about, feeling, or needing if I wasn’t eating right now?” This question is crucial for connecting with your emotions, which are often the root of dysfunctional food behaviors. Our relationship with food is deeply rooted and when we start to nourish rather than just giving in to the desire to eat, old habits and eating as a coping mechanism can surface.

Step 2: Be Curious About the Food You’re Eating

How you perceive food significantly impacts your eating behavior. If you label food as “bad” or “unhealthy,” you’re likely to continue eating it, thinking you’ve already broken a rule. As a registered dietitian, I have had so many clients come to me believing that restriction was better than eating something “bad.” Conversely, labeling food as “healthy” might give you subconscious permission to overeat. Achieving food neutrality helps you stop at comfortable fullness, regardless of the food type.

Step 3: Reassure Yourself About Future Access to Food

Assure yourself that you can enjoy the food now and later. This reduces the fear of missing out. This is an anti-diet mentality. This isn’t about diet and restriction! Remember, it’s okay to keep eating if you choose to, but also recognize the value in stopping when full and trusting that you can have more delicious food in the future. Intuitive eating practices take time, but when you learn how to stop eating when full, you’ll be able to eat enough without falling into emotional eating or eating past the point of comfort.

Step 4: Honoring Your Fullness: Shift Gears After Eating

After deciding whether to keep eating or stop, shift your focus to something else. Ruminating over food choices keeps you stuck in a diet mentality. Instead, you might feel it’s time to engage in activities that take your mind off food, solidifying the positive or negative feedback your body gives you about your fullness levels. Intuitive eating is just as much about the crave for freedom as it is about food itself.

Free Resource: Reconnect with Hunger and Fullness

I offer a free guide, “5 Simple Steps to Reconnecting With Your Hunger and Fullness,” packed with tips and strategies to help you connect with your appetite cues. It includes a hunger and fullness scale that you can save on your phone for reference. 

Additional Tips for Navigating Fullness

Practice Mindful Eating: Use Food to Find Balance

One effective way to feel full after eating and prevent overeating is to practice mindful eating. Pay attention to the flavors, textures, and aromas of your food. Chew slowly and savor each bite. This not only enhances your eating experience but also allows your body to signal when it’s truly full. You’ll notice you will begin to feel full just as easily as you feel hungry.

Create a Balanced Plate to Heighten Your Awareness

Ensure your meals are balanced with a mix of protein, healthy fats, and fiber-rich carbohydrates. A balanced plate helps keep you satisfied longer, reducing the urge to overeat. Including a variety of nutrients also supports overall health and well-being. Having a balanced plate is a great way to avoid being overfull and eating even when you’re having feelings of fullness. 

Stay Hydrated: Avoid Boredom Eating

Sometimes, what we perceive as a hunger cue is actually thirst. Make sure you’re staying adequately hydrated throughout the day. Drinking water before and during meals can also help you feel full and prevent overeating. This is also a great way to nourish your body. Water gives us the sensation of fullness we need. Sometimes, we aren’t hungry at all but just need some hydration.

Plan Satisfying Meals Instead of Eating “Just” Anything

When you plan your meals, focus on making them satisfying and enjoyable. This includes incorporating your favorite flavors and textures. A satisfying meal can prevent the feeling of deprivation that often leads to overeating. Your body may need a “change in scenery.” Remember, you have unconditional permission to eat. Give your body a deviation from the norm with foods you find extra comforting or exciting.

Reflect on Your Eating Patterns

Take time to reflect on your eating patterns. Are there specific triggers that lead to overeating? Understanding these triggers can help you develop strategies to address them without relying on food for comfort. Do you eat food when you are stressed? Are you able to stop eating when you feel full? Can you recognize and feel your fullness? Are your meals satisfying? Are you truly giving yourself permission to eat all foods consistently throughout the day? Do you find that you’re rushed to eat your food? Are thoughts of disordered eating surfacing?

Key Takeaways: Intuitive Eating and Fullness

Stop eating when you’re full by following my quick steps. If you feel like you’re satisfied, set the fork aside and move on to your next activity. Remember, learning more about your body’s hunger cues and needs is an expected part of the process when it comes to intuitive eating. Learning when to stop eating is also a normal and expected part of the whole thing. Over time, you’ll find you feel more satisfied as you give yourself permission to eat the foods you love without overeating.

To summarize my pointers:

1. Pause and check in with your emotions.

2. Be curious about your judgments or labels on food.

3. Reassure yourself of future access to delicious food.

4. Shift gears and focus on other activities after eating.

5. Practice mindful eating, create balanced plates, stay hydrated, plan satisfying meals, and reflect on your eating patterns for long-term success.

Listen to the podcast for more intuitive eating tips and encouragement. Remember, you are worthy just as you are. Until next time!

Listen & subscribe on your favorite platform:  Apple Podcasts  | Spotify | Deezer |  Google

Search for Episode 132: What They Won’t Tell You About Intuitive Eating That I Will

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