DAY # 13
Today I will stop halfway through my meals to assess satiety levels and either stop or continue eating.
Satiety is the feeling of feeling satisfied with the food you have consumed. Feeling satisfied post meal, mentally, physically and emotionally, is important to prevent overeating. Unchecked emotions, waiting too long between meals and mindless eating can lead to overeating and feeling stuffed or overly full.
So how does this impact your body and endocrine (hormone) system?
Leptin is a hormone that is produced in our fat cells and is responsible for regulating how many calories we eat and burn as well as how much fat we carry on our awesome body (ps: we need fat!). Leptin does this by signaling to the brain how much fat is stored in the fat cells. The most recent studies show that people who struggle with obesity have more leptin.
Similar to diabetics who have high blood sugar and blown out insulin receptor sites, obese patients with high leptin levels develop leptin resistance. The leptin doesn’t signal correctly and leads to hunger and decreased energy expenditure. When you lose weight, leptin decreases significantly. The brain can interpret this as starvation and releases hormones to stimulate appetite and hunger sensations. Obviously this cascading effect of hormones can definitely impact this activity and mindful eating skill.
Stopping halfway through your meal to see how you physically feel is another super helpful skill to develop → tuning in and listening to your body. Avoid using your your plate as your guide on when to stop, instead let your stomach make the decision. Pay attention to how your belly feels halfway through your meals and snacks then stop when you are no longer hungry. If you feel very full or stuffed, you may have eaten too much. A good goal to work towards is to experiment with what it feels like to stop when you feel satisfied and content. Like you could eat more but you feel good and not very full or stuffed.
Think back to day two with the hunger scale. I used to feel like I always had to get to an eight or a nine to feel mentally content, like I “had a proper meal” but the reality is, it made me also feel sluggish and tired. Working with the seeing what a six or a seven felt like, and then going back up to very full and stuffed, I recognized that I no longer enjoyed the feeling of my belly being stuffed and stretched. But because that had been my norm for so long, I never challenged it until I started being mindful and intentional with how I wanted to feel after my meals.
If you normally eat until you are stuffed, perhaps you wait too long between meals and snacks. Perhaps you take big bites, don’t chew your food well, or eat too fast. Stopping before feeling stuffed, if that’s been your normal, can make some people feel a bit mentally deprived. If you feel this way, you can tell yourself that you can always eat more later, but right now you are learning to work with feeling content or full.
It’s very empowering to learn to stop before you are very full, just have enough food to nourish your body instead of overeating or even numbing out with food (which BTW is part of the mindful + intuitive eating journey)! The goal is to help you feel in charge of your food decisions. This is different than feeling in “control” because then you feel out of control.
Do the best you can today. Notice any emotions that are stimulated if you tend to overeat and are now working with the concept of being content. Without a doubt, flexing this “content” muscle took some time for me because I so used to eating until I was stuffed. I had created the habit of overeating without paying attention to how it impacted my energy. But once I became aware of it, I decided to use it as an opportunity to change my current habits. You can always go back to what feels familiar at another time but be willing to challenge your status quo.
I won’t say it was easy, or that I didn’t feel a bit disappointed. Like I lost a friend or something. But then I realized it felt abusive to overeat and stress out my stomach. And over time, I started to NOT like the feeling of overeating. It still happens occasionally for a birthday celebration, holiday or if the food is REALLY good and I consciously decide to eat more than normal. The nice thing is the mental dialog isn’t what it used to be when I was focused on weight loss… “this is going to make me gain weight.” Instead, I overate, asked myself if there was anything I would change about it if it happened again, and moved on.
The ultimate purpose of eating is to feel better after your meal than you did before your meal. Let me repeat that: the ultimate purpose of eating is so that you feel better after the meal than you did before. If you don’t (ie: feel stuffed) then you missed the mark, right? In my case, I had consistently overate and felt “full” to the point that I started to believe that I hadn’t eaten unless I felt full. So I had to reframe my thinking around food and realize that my goal was to feel good, not stuffed or uncomfortable, but content, nourished and pleasantly full.
What helped me was to realize and tell myself, “I can eat more later but right now, I am committed to working with replacing the current habit of stuffing myself and replacing it with feeling content and satisfied with my meals and snacks.” There were days that I still felt like I overate, but they started to decrease over time, and now I dislike feeling stuffed. My energy is zapped and it’s shocking to me to say this, but I really don’t like feeling very full or stuffed anymore. I’ve shifted away from that need or habit completely and it’s still kind of shocking sometimes. Give yourself the time and space to let that happen organically, with intention and attention during the challenge and beyond.
Remember, you are where you are supposed to be [doing this challenge] and you are likely doing better than you give yourself credit for so pat yourself on the back! You’ve got this! PS: this is a GREAT day to journal about…..