Monday, May 4, 2009

(13) Step 8. Stop Eating When Your Body Is Satisfied, Not Full

How can you tell when your body is satisfied? Make a loose fist...your fist is the approximate size of your empty stomach. It can stretch to many times this size but this is about how much food it takes for your body to go from 0 to 5. Do you feel disappointed? I did the first time I realized how little food my body actually needs. We are used to seeing 3-5 times this amount of food every time we eat at a restaurant. But the portion sizes we're used to seeing is the amount of food a person doing hard manual labor 10-12 hours a day would need to eat.
This does NOT mean you can only eat 3 fist size meals a day. You need to eat an approximate fist size of food EVERY TIME you feel hungry (at a 0). Sometimes you may need more, depending on your activity level. Sometimes you might even need less. Listen to your body and FEEL what your body is telling you. Most likely you'll be eating small frequent meals all throughout the day which will actually jump start your metabolism and it will keep your blood sugar up so you will have less mood swings and energy swings.
Your body does NOT want you to overeat...ever. In fact there is never any good reason to eat when you're not hungry or eat past satisfaction. At first it's a bit hard to tell when you've reached a 5. Your body will actually give you a distinct signal telling you it's satisfied. You'll also notice your food goes from tasting amazing to tasting a bit bland. You'll feel light, energetic, and powerful. You can't feel any food in your body but you feel satisfied and comfortable. It's harder to pay full attention to just your food. Stop and check in with your body as soon as you notice any of these signals. I usually eat a couple bites more and then wait a few minutes to see if I was right.
I never worry about throwing food away anymore. I get carry out boxes at restaurants or I share an entree with my honey. I use a small plate or bowl for my meals. I dish up a small amount, eat it and if I'm still hungry get a few more bites. It's always easier to clean a small plate then to throw food from a larger plate away. If you do use a large plate, throw any extras away or put it in the fridge for another meal or give it to the's better in the trash then on your bum!
How can you tell if you've eaten past a 5? Your stomach can stretch out pretty big but any amount of food past a 5 is overeating. If you can feel any food in your body or if you feel uncomfortable you've eaten too much. You'll feel stuffed, lazy, lethargic, and just blah...
Sometimes (actually most of the time at first) you'll find it hard to stop at a 5. If you started eating before hitting 0, you won't be able to recognize satisfaction. You have to feel hunger before you can feel satisfaction. If you were too hungry (-1 or below) it will be much harder to stop at 5 because your mind and body are ravenous and you may eat in an out-of-control way. Make sure you're eating the best foods and exactly what you want. If not you'll keep picking at different things searching for satisfaction. Make sure you have something exciting to do after you're finished eating or you may keep eating simply because there's nothing more interesting going on.
You may find yourself eating past a 5 for some other reason (stress, boredom, anxiety, anger, happiness, must clean your plate, can't throw food away, I paid for it so I have to eat it...all the old habits). This is emotional overeating and I'll explain how to overcome this in a later article.


  1. I really like where you said "You can't feel any food in your body but you feel satisfied and comfortable." I think I've always eaten past this point...just a few bites, until I could just barely feel my food. I thought just barely feeling my food was satisfied. So I was probably eating to a 5 1/2. I still lost weight in the past. But this is sort of a revelation for me.
    I think I have sugar highs and lows throughout the day. If I get too hungry, I get pretty hornery in addition to feeling ravenous. Then after I eat lunch (especially if I over eat) I sometimes can't keep my eyes open. It always helps to get these tips and learn new things.
    Thanks for your help!

  2. This is the hard part for me. I don't know why I don't feel satisfied until I am so stuffed that I am uncomfortable. Yesterday, I tried really hard to be more aware of what my body was telling me, I felt so much better and not as tired as when I am just eating to eat. I guess I need to teach my self to eat to live not live to eat. Thanks again.