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WIAW: Stopping When I’m Full

I have a confession to make about my intuitive eating abilities: while I’m getting better and better at eating when I’m hungry–which is often–I’m not very good at stopping when I’m full.

I pretty much always finish my plate. The only exception is when I’m at a restaurant and they bring me a really giant portion. But when I’m eating at home, I never leave food behind. And I never have. Not when I was a kid, not in high school or college. Even when I had anorexia, I almost always ate the entirety of what was on my plate; I just didn’t put very much on my plate.

The one time I’ve tried to pay really close attention to stopping when I’m full–regardless of whether or not my plate is empty–is when I was first learning intuitive eating. But that didn’t work…because of my IBS.

My IBS often makes it so that if I stop when I feel physically full, I don’t eat enough. When I first tried to learn intuitive eating, I felt that way pretty much all the time. So while I trained myself that it’s always best to eat when I’m hungry, I’ve also learned that I sometimes have to use my brain about eating when I’m not all that hungry because I know enough time has passed and my body needs the nutrients. Similarly, I sometimes eat a whole serving, even though I’m “full” after just a couple bites, because I know that my IBS makes my full signals wacky sometimes.

And I do often remind myself that, IBS aside, it’s okay to not be perfect about stopping exactly when I hit my full cue every time. In real life, we aren’t meant to be hyper-aware of our hunger and fullness at all times, and intuitive eating should not be used as another diet or set of rules to become obsessed with.

So I would like to become more aware of stopping when I’m truly full, rather than just eating my whole plate on auto pilot every time, and I think that would be a good goal, especially now that I have my IBS a bit more under control.

On the other hand, I also want to remind myself–and you!–that eating one whole sandwich or the entire bowl of oatmeal, even if I’m not actually that hungry for the last few bites, is not any kind of serious detriment to my health.

Today’s What I Ate Wednesday is from Monday, which was a crummy tummy day. Be sure to bop over to Laura’s to check out Jenn’s link-up party and see what other bloggers have been eating lately.Breakfast: Steel cut oats cooked with a combo of butter, flaxseed, milk, and water, topped with blueberries and brown sugar. Eggs on the side.This is actually a recycled picture, but what I ate on Monday was basically the same. The only difference was the eggs were scrambled because I like to shake up my egg preparation methods. Living on the wild side, guys.

I get a break on my teaching days between my first two sections and my last two, during which I usually eat a substantial snack. This morning, it was a banana and some almonds.

Lunch: Gluten-free spaghetti with some marinara sauce (jar) and a chicken sausage, plus baby carrots.

I was quite bloated when I got home from work, but I hadn’t eaten since lunch and I knew I had to run some errands in the evening, so I went ahead and ate supper. This was a great example of one of these “I feel really bloated but I’m using my brain and my brain says that’s just IBS” meals because I felt “full” after just a couple of bites, but I knew I needed to eat more than a couple bites.Supper was a salmon burger on a gluten-free bun with mayo, plus leftover roasted kabocha squash and sliced cukes.

One of my errands was a run to Sprouts, where they were having a sale on gluten-free. I bought a package of frozen Katz donuts because I literally haven’t had a donut in years. I just haven’t found any gluten-free ones that appeal to me. But the frozen kind were on a good price, so I thought I’d try the powdered sugar ones.

It certainly didn’t compare to Munchers–nothing does–but it tasted just like those cute little powdered sugar mini donuts you get in a big package at the grocery store, which I’ve always really liked.

I still felt weird and bloated, but I didn’t stress too much about whether I was hungry because donuts are designed to satisfy things other than hunger. Like cravings for yummy donuts!


Do you almost always finish what’s on your plate?

Where can I go to get a really good gluten-free donut? (Plane tickets to good gluten-free donut locations accepted.)


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  1. Cora says:

    Joyce are you reading my mind? Our similarities are fairly strange.

    This has *always* been me. I don’t know if it is because of my upbringing – my Dad, specifically, raising us with a ZERO tolerance for any kind of waste and always being an example of always always finishing your plate (if we really couldn’t – he would for us) – but my brothers and I have always been able to eat “a lot” (aka more than all of my friends and cousins, it always seemed) and we, as a family, NEVER leave food on our plates. So as I’ve grown up though, I’ve had experiences where I’ve worried that this has all just become habit, and that I’m actually UNABLE to leave food behind. I’ve been struggling with this lately. Sometimes I get mad at myself that I “can’t” just eat as much as I want and leave the rest, but rather feel this need to eat everything. Though I’m not sure if “I’m” actually mad, or if my lingering ED is the mad one. I do want to practice being more intuitive and leaving something behind if I feel satisfied, but in all honesty it’s really really hard for me :(. I’m sorry for the long rant, but this is something that hasn’t been feeling too good with me lately and I’d like to figure out a bit more. Thank you, as always, for the post and making me feel like I’m not so alone.

  2. Diane Wahto says:

    I hardly ever eat everything on my platewhen I’m eating out. I try to order something that I can box up and bring home to Pat. Restaurants give us too much food. At least, that’s my opinion. At home, I don’t pile a whole lot on my plate. The only thing I could eat a lot of, which I don’t, is anything chocolate. Since I don’t keep much of that around the house, that’s not a problem.

  3. Kylie McGraw says:

    I don’t know where I learned the idea that I have to finish what’s on my plate, because I was never forced to eat all of my dinner as a kid, but that’s the mentality I ended up with! I’m happy to say I am getting much better at stopping when I’m full even if that means 3/4 of my plate is still full. I’m glad you finally got to have a donut πŸ™‚ I’ve been ignoring the craving for an apple fritter for 3 days! Haha

  4. I love your thoughts on intuitive eating, and I think you’re doing wonderfully listening to your body while also remaining aware that you need to sometimes give it a little more than it asks for. Robyn of The Real Life Rd had a post once that was all about how intuitive eating is often about eating even when you’re not hungry, and it’s about sometimes not eating when you are hungry, because that’s just what works with your life at that particular moment. As long as it’s not coming from a place of deprivation or restriction, it’s totally fine to miss the mark sometimes.

    1. Joyce says:

      Isn’t Robyn great? I remember reading that post and finding it super-helpful!

  5. Emily says:

    This is such a tough balance. I know exactly what you mean, because sometimes in fear of being restrictive I finish EVERYTHING and then I feel incredibly full. Then there are other times I can’t gauge my fullness, so it would be better if I eat all of it. It really is just a lesson to learn day by day.

  6. I love your thoughts on this. I know I sometimes have a tendency to overthink hunger/fullness, which makes it difficult to tune in. I also almost always finish my plate. I’ve been thinking about this and I think some of it is knowing approximately what keeps me full for an approximate amount of time. Like for example, at I usually eat a little past my fullness level because I have to eat lunch early and I’m not able to eat dinner early. So sometimes there’s thought behind it. But sometimes, probably not so much, so I love how you distinguished between eating beyond fullness with awareness and eating beyond fullness on autopilot.

  7. Not having any major food allergies, much less anything like celiac’s disease or IBS, it’s hard to imagine how difficult getting back to intuitive eating has to be. From what it sounds like here and in your previous WIAWs, though, you’re doing pretty well in fusing your stomach’s and brain’s messages.
    At home, I usually cook for myself only and bring the pot to the table so I can slowly plate more until I’m full. So yes, I’d say I’m pretty good at figuring out my fullness. Unless I don’t pay attention to my meal and overshoot but – like you already said – that’s not a big deal every now and then, either.

  8. Kaylee says:

    That salmon burger + kabocha combo looks delish!! And your oatmeal game is on point.

    Regarding finishing what’s on my plate, I really hate wasting food so I’ll either finish it or take the rest home even if most people wouldn’t. Or it sometimes will even stop me from ordering something when I’m out because I’m afraid I’ll “have to” push myself way past my fullness or waste it. Something I’m still trying to figure out. πŸ™ Glad you’re giving yourself grace and remembering what intuitive eating is not.

    The vegan bakery I worked at over the summer sold a bunch of gluten free products too! Unfortunately because of my almond allergy, I didn’t get a chance to try it for myself but from what I could tell based on their popularity the doughnuts were pretty amazing!! Sending virtual ones to you now!

  9. I’ve never even heard of a GF frozen doughnut! I know there were some great ones at a shop in ATL. Maybe you can locate a GF bakery?

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