How much is enough? When do we stop eating?
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?
Before tuning in to satisfaction, 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 satisfied that hunger.
Think of a time recently when you ate more than you were hungry for. 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?
That's a lot of information to gather!
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?
If the answer is ‘no’, you can still choose whether to eat it or not. If you choose to eat the food, it might be tricker 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, eat it as mindfully as you can (Principle 4!) and keep tuning in and see if there is some physical, mental or emotional shift. It can be quite subtle and challenging to spot at first. You could perhaps log your ‘satisfaction levels’ on a fuel gauge type chart if that helps.
I know from discussion in our community 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.
Above all, remember to Enjoy!