The Eating Guidelines: #5 Eat Until You Are Satisfied

I don’t want to take much of your time apologizing for my lack of posts lately; so I am just going to say that I am back and continuing on with my series on the Eating Guidelines..

In honour of this new “home” for the blog, I am doing a series based on The Eating Guidelines as developed by Geneen Roth (author of “Women, Food, and God” and many other books I highly recommend).

Guideline #5: Eat Until You Are Satisfied

Next to knowing what I actually  wanted to eat (thanks, years of restriction and food-related guilt), knowing when to stop eating was one of the most difficult parts of learning how to eat intuitively.

So when is “enough enough”?  According to Geneen Roth, “Satisfaction is relative to your moods, your emotional needs, your physiological well-being.” However, satisfaction doesn’t necessarily always come in the form of food – even though at times we treat it as though it does. So first you have to figure out why you have a desire for food. This is something I learned in eating disorder recovery, and something Geneen Roth talks about in her book as well.

If you are eating for any reason besides physical hunger, then no amount of food will be enough. 

So first assess why you want to eat (I talk more about this in my previous post). Once you have determined you are eating for hunger, then it’s time to move to determining how much you want.

How do I know when I am full? 

Unfortunately years of restricting, over-indulging, “finish what’s on your plate”,  “no more brownies starting tomorrow,”  calorie counting,  and “but it’s thanksgiving,” have untrained our body’s natural ability to know when it is full. We stopped listening to our body, stopped trusting it, and now, even though we are finally giving it the freedom to make decisions for itself, it doesn’t know how to anymore.  

The first step is to listen to your body.  The second step is to trust it. Remember, your body is your ally, not your enemy, and instinctively it’s only goal is self-preservation (which does not come from restricting or over-indulging).  Itknows what it needs. And despite endless years of us bullying, manipulating, and ignoring it; it can go back to its original ability to feed itself, so it’s up to us to trust, and to listen.

I started by working off a scale – 1 being near starvation, and 10 being the equivalent to post-binge. I would check-in with myself throughout the meal, aiming for somewhere in just over halfway (usually around 7-8). I found for me personally, I felt more comfortable stopping around 7, and eating smaller meals more frequently – you may find you prefer eating to about an 8 and perhaps eating less often; it is really a matter of preference (not your “diet mentality’s” preference, but your body’s). I recommend trial and error, try a few meals eating to about a 7, then try eating a bit more or a bit less and see what makes you feel the most comfortable.  note: I would not recommend anything less than a 6-6.5 as a fullness marker. 

Here are a few tips:

Here are the tips provided by the Intuitive Eating book (by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch):

  1. Pause in the middle of a meal to check-in with your body (this one is a huge help for me)
  2. Taste check: does the food still taste good to you? Or are you just eating it because it is there? (I find my sense of taste begins to disappear as I reach fullness)
  3. Don’t feel obligated to leave food on your plate (or to finish it)

A final word…

Why does this matter? Remember how horrible it feels to over-indulge? The stomach pain,t he bloating, the exhaustion, the emotion? And remember how it feels when you restrict yourself? When you know you want more, but you deny your body that right?  

That is why it is important to know when to stop – not stopping too early or too late – but instead, when you are satisfied.

I will leave you with this reminder from Geneen Roth:

“At every meal you have the chance to care for yourself or cause yourself discomfort. The choice is yours.”


I hope you found this post helpful – I will be back next week with Guideline #6: Eat until you are satisfied. Happy eating!

Read last week’s post “#4 Eat What Your Body Wants.


Twitter: @lauren_b_sag

New posts go up every Monday, stay tuned!

2 thoughts on “The Eating Guidelines: #5 Eat Until You Are Satisfied”

  1. Pingback: The Eating Guidelines: #6 Eat (with the intention of being) in full view of others | Honouring Appetite

  2. Pingback: The Eating Guidelines: #7 Eat with Enjoyment, Gusto, and Pleasure! | Honouring Appetite

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