losing weight as you honor fullness
A few weeks ago I wrote about the importance of honoring your HUNGER — learning to recognize true hunger and planning to eat when you are hungry, rather than subjecting yourself to an artificial schedule.
Perhaps even more important than honoring your hunger — and I suspect a lot more challenging for most of us — is to HONOR YOUR FULLNESS.
Just like we created a hunger scale — we can also create a mental fullness scale from 1-10. At 1, you are still super hungry. And at 10, you are so stuffed that you need to unbutton your pants to breathe. You feel overfull, tired, heavy, low energy, and often in need of a nap!
When we finish eating, what we’re looking for is a 7 on the fullness scale. Seven is where you are nourished and energized from food -- satiated but not stuffed. It means eating to about 75% fullness. You are "eating for energy."
Intellectually the hunger and fullness scale seems very simple. Start planning to eat when you are at a level 2 on the hunger scale and stop eating when you are at a level 7. Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?
Here’s the problem: most of us have habits of eating beyond fullness. Like when you go out for Chinese food and there’s so much food, it’s just sitting there in front of you, and it tastes so good, so you pick off one more piece from the serving dish… then you are engaged in conversation and you mindlessly pick another piece. Before you know it, your belly hurts and you’re wishing you hadn't eaten so much!
Does that sound familiar?
This is why tuning into our body wisdom, slowing down, eating consciously and mindfully can make sure a big difference!
Of all the principles that I have learned as a health coach, the simple tool of honoring hunger & fullness has been one of the most profound for me. Without even meaning to, I lost more than 10 pounds! — Simply because I started consciously listening more closely to my hunger and fullness cues.
I never went hungry. I never denied myself anything I really wanted to eat. I simply didn’t eat until I was hungry, and I stopped eating when I was full, telling myself that I could eat again as soon as I was hungry. I would often put my bowl or plate in the fridge and just keep it ready until I got hungry again. My body stopped being afraid of deprivation, and I stopped overfeeding it. I had been the same weight for many years. Even when I gave up sugar and gluten for other health reasons, my weight had stayed the same. But when I started paying closer attention to my hunger & fullness, along with practicing other mindful eating principles, the weight came off without conscious effort.
Does that sound impossible? I’m not saying that is the key for everyone, but it was amazing to me how much I ate when I was not hungry and how often I kept eating even after I was full.
As a coach, I do not like to focus on weight loss. But I do believe it is often a natural consequence when we are truly honoring our bodies and our minds.
So let’s talk about creating some new habits especially around fullness because that’s where most of us get tripped up.
Here are 6 ways you can practice honoring your inner intuitive hunger and fullness scale:
- Start planning what and when to eat when you are at a level 2 on the hunger/ fullness scale. (As I said last week, this can help us stop eating before we are too full!)
- Eat high-energy, nourishing, satisfying foods that your body truly wants.
- Eat for ENERGY -- aim for Level 7 on your inner intuitive scale versus a Level 10 when you’re so full you have to unzip your pants 😉
- Make a physical gesture that your meal is complete by pushing your plate away, putting a napkin over it, or crossing your silverware.
- Declare out loud to yourself or whomever you are eating with that you are full. This will dissuade you from continuing to eat because you’ve already announced that the meal was complete for you.
- If you’re out, ask your server to box up the rest of the meal so it’s not calling you hither.
As you practice the skill of really tuning into what your body is trying to tell you:
- how does this help you?
- what do you notice that you didn't notice before?
- what obstacles come up for you?
- where do you get stuck?
- what gets in the way of honoring that message?
Remember to practice CURIOSITY as you ask yourself these questions!