How can we tell when we’re satisfied? Is it when we’re stuffed to bursting? Is it when we could eat more but choose not to? Is it when we’ve finished everything on our plate and the left-overs in the dish?
In order to think about this Principle and for it to help us with our goal of losing weight and gaining a better relationship with our bodies, it’s worth going back a step because if we don’t know when we are hungry to start with, we won’t know when we’ve had enough to eat to be satisfying.
Think of a time recently when you over-ate. What happened? Was the food just soooo delicious that you didn’t want to stop until you’d eaten it all? Were you hungry before you started eating? How do you know that you were hungry? Were you feeling under pressure to finish your portion? There are lots of possible scenarios when it comes to over-eating.
But the key is knowing where you are before you start eating. And that’s where Tuning In can help. You can ask yourself, ‘am I really hungry for this food right now?’, and if the answer is ‘no’, you can still choose whether to eat it or not. If you choose to eat the food, it may be very difficult to know when you are satisfied with that food, even with frequent Tuning In.
According to a quick Google search, old research on lab rats found that it took around 20 minutes for the ‘satisfied’ signal to kick in, but there has been newer research which indicates that time may be as little as 10 minutes after we start to eat – so it’s worth eating more slowly (if possible!), keep on Tuning In and … recognise your ‘satisfied’ signal.
Ah, the signal that the brain sends to the stomach to indicate we’ve eaten enough. How does that manifest for you? Do you know yet? If not, take some time to experiment and find out – it will be well worth it. Pick a meal where you can really focus on yourself – put the food on a plate, sit down and really focus on the food (Principle 4!) and keep Tuning In (Principle 1) and see if there is some physical, mental or emotional change that occurs quite suddenly and can be quite subtle and hard to spot at first. You could perhaps log your ‘satisfaction levels’ on a fuel gauge type chart if that helps.
I know from discussion on the Forum that this signal can take many different forms for each of us and it might not be the same signal each meal or even each day so it’s well worth taking some time to experiment with this Principle and really make it work for you. One of my signals is a sudden boredom with the food in front of me – I could continue eating, but it no longer interests me anything like as much as it did when I started.
If, as some people find, your particular signal kicks in before you’ve eaten very much at all, you can choose to honour that signal (and save the rest of the food for later, perhaps) or you can choose to over-ride it and carry on eating. However, the more you do this, the fainter the signal may become, so I would suggest honouring the signal for a meal or a couple of meals and keep Tuning In to see how you are feeling physically and emotionally and what you are thinking. It may be that you actually need far less food than you want to eat!
Above all, remember to Enjoy!
When hungry, eat your rice; when tired, close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean. —Lin-Chi