Skinny Daily Post


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.

4 thoughts on “Full of it

  1. Susie says:

    I’ve been working on this ever since I started my weightloss journey with a class entitled, “Meditation, Mindfulness, and Weight Loss.”

    The first exercise we did was to take one raisin and eat it. Slowly. Holding it in the mouth, feeling the texture, tasting the iron-y sweetness. Then chew once, and experience that. Then again. Until the five or so minutes it takes to eat a raisin like that passed.

    Now, three years and fifty pounds later, I still practice what I learned. PAY ATTENTION. Never eat mindlessly. Sit at a table without distractions. Eat slowly, putting down the fork now and then. Take little bites. Savor. And every now and then, stop and ask, “am I still hungry?”

    I’m amazed at how LITTLE food it takes to ease real hunger. I can be really, really hungry and a cup of broth can be enough to stop the growling. (Which is why I try to serve a clear soup or salad as a first course at our family meals.)

    Mindfulness, and a relaxed and open approach to food are two of my most effective tools.


  2. Jenny says:

    In the most recent diet book I read, there was a recommendation to not drink anything during your meal and then use thirst as a gage of when you’re full.

    Say what?! Yes, that’s right – don’t drink anything with your food. No, taking a bite, setting down your fork and then picking up the water glass and chugging. Just eat the food.

    I don’t clearly remember the rationale behind this, but here’s my fuzzy logic. When you’re hungry, you eat. When you’re thirsty, you’re not hungry anymore. Supposedly thirst is an early indicator of fullness if you consume your meals this way.

    I’ve tried this a couple times and I think there might be something to it. I get ravenously thirsty by the end of my meal and shoveling more food on top of that thirst is the last thing on my mind. All I want to do is chug water.

    I don’t know if it’s the best approach, but it might be just the thing to help some people gage their fullness. When I think to do it, it helps me.

  3. Margo says:


    That’s really interesting, Jenny – I drink constantly throughout the day, and often during eating. I’m going to give it a shot.

    Paying attention to what you’re eating is tricky, but I think that it is the first step – I eat alone a lot, and I’ve always turned on the tv, surfed the net, had a book/magazinbe open, or all three at once, while munching. Stopping, sitting down, and just eating – definetly makes me more aware of what’s headed towards my stomach.

  4. Karen says:

    I, too, have trained myself to overeat. My tendency was always to eat until there was no more left, or until I had absolutely no more room in my stomach. Breakfast has never really been a problem, but the later in the day it gets, the more I want to eat.

    Here is what I came up with to help control my portions, whether I’m having salad or pizza: put only as much food on the plate as I reasonably NEED, maybe a little less than I think I need. Then, any food that is left over immediately goes into a container in the fridge – if I want more later, I have to get it out and heat it up. When I finish eating, if I still feel hungry, I wait for 20 minutes before going for anything more, and I do my best to distract myself from food during this time. Usually I have completely forgotten about food by the time 20 minutes have gone by. So viola! I just cut TONS of calories – I probably cut my lunch or dinner calorie count in half using this trick, without feeling like I have sacrificed anything.

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