A hand holding a stop sign in front of a boy's mouth

This is How You Stop Eating When You're Full

One of the tenets of the only eating plan I can get behind, intuitive eating, is that you honor your feelings of fullness.

What is intuitive eating?

Intuitive eating basically means listening to your body and eating when you’re hungry, giving up diets, and exercising in a manner that feels pleasant. But it can be hard to stop when you’re full, am I right?

Tips for intuitive eating

This one’s tricky: You started eating when you were hungry, but the food tastes so good, sometimes it’s hard to stop. Especially when it’s helping you avoid something you don’t want to do or you’ve come off a strict diet and feel insatiable! Here are some ways to quit pushing past your stomach’s happy level of full.

Stop dieting

As I alluded to above, dieting (that is, not giving your body the calories it needs to function properly or severely restricting food groups) can set you up for overeating. If you’ve been sticking to a plan and go off it for a meal, you’re likely to keep eating and eating, well past the point of fullness, because you’ve been depriving yourself. Instead, eat regular, balanced meals that supply enough calories and keep your blood sugar stable.

Limit your alcohol consumption

Alcohol absolutely lowers your inhibitions and ups your willingness to overeat and eat foods you may not be so thrilled about later. It will make you ask for dessert when you don’t really want one or eat a second portion of deep-fried macaroni and cheese balls. Next time you imbibe, notice how it impacts your ability to stop eating.

Serve yourself one portion and put the rest away

Instead of serving food family-style, with everything laid out on the table, either put it up on the counter where it takes effort to get yourself a second portion or simply serve yourself a portion and wrap the rest up and put it away before you eat. If you’re truly hungry after your first serving, of course, eat more.

Figure out what you’re trying to avoid

Let’s say you’re out to lunch at a buffet. You know, in the back of your mind, that you have to go back to the office and deal with a stressful client. You don’t mean to go back for a third helping of Kung Pao chicken, but without even realizing it, you’re trying to avoid doing something you don’t want to do. Once you are aware of whatever it is you may be dodging, you can do other things to ease stress, rather than eating.

Select an after-dinner treat ahead of time

Sometimes after dinner, I feel like I want to keep eating, perhaps because it’s the last meal of the day, perhaps because I’m tired, and I find that it’s helpful to set aside a little something ahead of dinner time, such as a portion of dark chocolate, and know that’s what I’m going to have after my meal, period. This way it keeps me from rummaging in the cupboards over and over, eating my weight in chocolate chips.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Slow down!

It takes time for your body to register that it’s full, and when you eat slowly, you sort of trick yourself into thinking you’re eating more (since it’s taking more time). Chew more times before you swallow, put your fork down between bites, and do whatever works for you in order for your body to register that you’re full and it’s okay to stop eating.

With practice, all of these can become second nature, and you’ll stop eating when you’re full like it’s no big deal.

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