Being Full is a Good Thing

Hi guys, it’s been a while. 6 ish weeks to be exact. There’s been A LOT going on around here. First, around 8 weeks ago, my husband and I found out we’re pregnant with number two!! We’re ecstatic, BUT it’s been a rough first trimester. I’ve had significantly more nausea and fatigue this time around, but THANK YOU LORD, I’m headed out of the first trimester and into the second. My energy and appetite (especially this one) have returned with a vengeance!

Second, my book, Grace, Food, and Everything in Between is finally available!! I couldn’t be more excited and simultaneously humbled by all the encouragement and feedback I’ve received.

This post: we’re FINALLY continuing with the Intuitive Eating (IE) and Scripture Series picking up with the fifth principle of Intuitive Eating: Respect Your Fullness. Let’s jump right in.

The authors of Intuitive Eating write this about the fifth principle:

“ Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show you’re comfortably full. Pause in the middle of a meal or food and ask yourself how the food tastes and what is your current fullness level.

Sounds simple enough eh? Yet there are a lot of things that have to happen before this becomes easy or even possible to execute.

  1. We have to be eating enough food on a regular basis.

    This means meeting our body’s basic energy and macronutrient needs by eating about every 3-4 hours (or earlier if hungry). For most people this looks like 3 meals and 2-3 snacks each day.

    When we are consistently underfed, fullness cues get messed up. Especially during eating disorder recovery, we feel “full” much quicker than we should as a result of chronic restriction. This is why it’s important to follow your meal plan in recovery consistently before moving on to Intuitive Eating.

    If you don’t have an eating disorder, but you’re going without food for long periods throughout the day and then trying to eat to fullness, your body’s primal drive to eat enough calories will likely override your fullness signals.

    It’s best to start fueling your body regularly first, eating when hungry or at least every 3-4 hours, and to do this consistently before focusing on fullness.

  2. We have to give ourselves full permission to eat all foods and any amount necessary.

    If you still consider certain foods as bad or off-limit, you’re likely to either self restrict, stopping before you’re full, or overeat past fullness because of a perception that the food is a “treat” or off-limits normally.

    On the other hand, we have to come to peace with feeding our bodies the amount that they need, which may be far more than what we’re used to.

    Working on permission to eat all foods in amounts that satisfy you along with trusting the body signals God put in place to care for you and get you to your natural weight is paramount!

    If you aren’t there yet, don’t worry. Take your time, go back and read the earlier posts in this series.

Once you’re certain you’re eating enough consistently and giving yourself full permission to eat all foods in the amounts that satisfy and nourish you, it’s time to start noticing and learning your fullness cues.

Fullness feels different for everyone, but my favorite way to describe it is this: fullness begins when foods starts to decrease in tastiness and ends when you are comfortably filled and satisfied. A good level of fullness allows you to go your desired time between meals without feeling faint or famished. For some, this window is 2 hours for others it’s 4. If you prefer to go 2 hours between meals, you may not need to feel as full after eating, however if you like to space your meals out to 4 hours, you’ll likely need to feel a greater sense of fullness after eating. This gets worked out how all things do, by trial and error.

I typically use a hunger/ fullness scale with clients who are at this stage of intuitive eating. You can find them all over online, but below is my own rendition.

Hunger/Fullness

When you are beginning the process of becoming aware of fullness, it can be helpful to use this scale to assess your fullness level in the middle of eating AND after you’re done eating. Eventually, you’ll just know when enough is enough and you won’t need to rate anything. This practice does require paying attention during eating, quieting some of the distractions and focusing on your body’s sensations.

Up until this point, I haven’t really addressed scripture on this topic. There isn’t much that the New testament says about fullness. However, I think there is a big fear out there in the culture at large and within the church about eating too much and becoming a “glutton.”

Body Bloved did a great blog post about what is and what isn’t gluttony, you can check that out here. But until then, let me say this: in my opinion, if you are living out of fear of punishment from God, that’s not from Him and its not the gospel. He did not give us a spirit of fear or punishment but one of love, sound mind, and power.

He gave us our body signals to help us, not harm us or condemn us. Gluttony is a spiritual issue more similar to greed. It’s not about food, it’s about seeking anything in excess over and above God. If you have been restricting or dieting and you’re finally allowing yourself to listen to your body’s cues and eat when you’re hungry and stop when you’re full, you are not a glutton! If you are in recovery from an ED, and are following the advice of a medical practitioner, eating your meal plan and feeling extremely full, you are not a glutton. You’re seeking wisdom like the bible urges us to do; you’re doing what’s necessary to get your health and your life back!

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Either way, you’re healing. And you’re going to get it wrong some days. Sometimes you’ll eat too little and sometimes a little too much, but your body, the one God designed, is more than capable of making adjustments and compensating for you whether by altering hunger at the next meal or by changing your metabolism to use up extra energy or conserve when there’s too little. This is normal, and it’s a part of the human design. You are not expected to be perfect. You are simply expected to trust and rely on God and Jesus’ all sufficient sacrifice.

I hope this clears up some of the confusion and nuance surrounding intuitive eating and eating to fullness. I’d love to hear your experience with this and questions in the comments below.

The book goes into further detail about this topic, so remember if you haven’t snagged your copy, you can get it here.

Until next time, stay nourished spirit, soul and body!

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