In the vein of this week’s post on getting your family to eat healthier, this post is on how to tell when you’re full.
In the West we have an abundance of food. We rarely if ever feel true hunger. Generally we feel peckish and eat, or eat at set times. And as we don’t feel hunger often or at all, we are almost certainly eating when we don’t need food. We have lost track of the usual signals that tell us we’ve had enough. But with a little focus we can recognize and reintegrate these signals.
I am trying to put them in the order they generally happen in.
Signal 1: The Taste Change.
Your body preempts the foods it will be eating based on cravings, sight and smell. The foods that seem most pleasant are the foods your body is primed for. But after that urge is satisfied, the perceived taste of the food changes slightly. Whether it’s pure grease, pure sugar or a pizza, everything has a taste change once your craving is satisfied, however early or late it is. Because many of the foods we eat are so palatable the taste change is less obvious, but by looking for it you’ll notice it.
Signal 2: Body Heat.
As digestion progresses, your body heats up to help in the breaking down of food. When your body starts feeling warm you know that the stomach is starting to reach its digestion capacity. Not full, just the most food you can optimally digest. Any more and you may get sweats or break into the following fullness signals.
Signal 3: Thirst.
Again, as digestion progresses, your stomach acid intensifies. And once your digestion capacity is almost there, the combined body heat and extra acid will make you thirsty. Don’t drink during your meal and when you get thirsty, drink plain water or tea until your thirst is satisfied. Your hunger will be also.
Signal 4: Boredom.
Definitely into the danger zone here. This is like the mega-evolution of the taste change. You have eaten so much that even the primitive part of your brain no longer enjoys the flavour. Even a different tasting food leaves you wondering why you’re still eating and you’re pushing to finish the plate just so you don’t leave any. It is just eating for the sake of eating.
Signal 5: Stomach stretch.
The slight to intense pain caused by your stomach reaching its full capacity. This is definitely too much food. It can be anywhere from uncomfortable to painful, you probably feel very thirsty but don’t have room even for water.
Signal 6: Gurgling.
Gurgling is the sound of your stomach emptying and gas bubbles being forced through the intestine. It happens when you haven’t eaten for a while and your stomach is discarding old, unused, neutralized acid. It also happens when you have had a meal and the digested food is passing through. If your stomach gurgles during a meal, then the contents have been digested and are on their way out. Adding more food on top of it can lead to inefficient digestion and is almost certainly more than you need anyway.
Signal 7: Sickness.
Definitely gone too far. You have consumed so much that your stomach can’t digest it fast enough to pass it through to the intestine and is trying to force it out the way it came. Abort
And those are the seven signals your body gives you that it is full. More or less in the order they occur, though sometimes a step will be missed, ignored or happen early or simultaneously with another.
So if you start feeling the tastes change, know your body is almost done with that food. When you feel thirsty and warm, the meal is over. Keeping on going after that is pure greed.
TTFN and Happy Hunting!
How do you control your food intake? Do you find you have a good or a bad appetite signal? What methods do you rely on to pace your meal? Do share!