When the weight loss company that I occasionally work for announced a few years ago that a new recommended method for achieving results was to gauge one’s satiety (fullness), I had a nice laugh. After all, I had spent a lifetime overeating. It seemed to me that limiting and tracking calories was pretty much the only viable way to re-educate myself. Stop when I’ve had enough? Yeah. Right.
At first I decided that taking my ‘food temperature’ really wasn’t going to work and that I’d have to include an emotional component …. am I happy? Sad? Excited? Worried? I came up with a complex formula that I was hoping would help me pinpoint whether I was ‘really’ hungry or just ‘emotionally’ deprived. I tried zones, colors, targets, you name it.
Not surprisingly, my first attempt at using that system didn’t work too well. It had certain advantages, particularly in liberating me from having to count the calories in fruits and vegetables. It also steered me away from high-sugar foods and towards healthier alternatives. But I overcomplicated things with my introspective approach which quickly became too tedious to continue.
Fortunately, although I’m resistant to change, I’m not completely closed-minded. I was willing to accept that there could be other approaches that might work, and going down a different path caused me to see things in a different light. For example, for years I had resisted fat free cottage cheese because the mere thought of it bored and disgusted me. (Of course, I’d never actually TASTED it). Once I tried it, however, I was totally sold.
It wasn’t long before I went back to my tried-and-true calorie tracking program, but my belief system had nonetheless been changed. In particular, it helped me see that what works for me might not work for everyone. And it’s okay that what worked for me in the past might not always work for me in the future, because there can be new and different futures that I hadn’t previously suspected.
The best lesson I learned was to allow myself to clear away the emotional signals in my head and listen for the physical ones. For forty years I’d taught myself to eat up until I was bursting. There was a level of emotional comfort in that (and there still can be), but I discovered that I was actually ignoring my physical discomfort. Once I’d tapped into the idea of checking for clues about satiety, it helped me understand, and plan for, true hunger.
Its all still a work in progress. But now I’m full of ideas, instead of cookies. I’d be interested in what clues you might have found that help you know when to stop.