April 2023 A Principle of Intuitive Eating®: Feel Your Fullness
By Alexis Giunta
It seems like everywhere, registered dietitians and nutritionists are posting about Intuitive Eating® on their social media platforms, but more often than not these images reduce this eating approach to a mere buzzword. Ironically, Intuitive Eating has been co-opted by diet culture. Although Intuitive Eating is growing in popularity, it seems many people don’t truly know what it is. This article hopes to shed some light on an Intuitive Eating principle that is sometimes sneakily disguised as “portion control”. Remember, Intuitive Eating is NOT a dieting approach—let’s dig into “Feel Your Fullness”.
What is Intuitive Eating?
Intuitive Eating ® is a self-care eating framework that includes a set of principles aiming to guide people toward a healthier relationship with food. While each principle focuses on something specific, they all value self-compassion and listening to body cues without judgement. The principles are not meant to be adopted quickly and “conquered”, rather, Intuitive Eating is a practice that can last a lifetime. With every misstep, there is an opportunity to learn more about oneself.
Intuitive Eating Principle 5: “Feel Your Fullness”
The principle “Feel Your Fullness” involves connecting to internal cues and growing awareness of eating sensations in the body. “Fullness” is not black and white (so much nuance) and within Intuitive Eating there is no rule “thou shalt not eat past fullness” (I see you diet culture). Rather, its about attuning to different feelings that can either be pleasant, neutral or unpleasant and eating with intention.
From the Intuitive Eating workbook: “Listen for the body signals that tell you that you are no longer hungry. Observe the signs that show that you are comfortably full. Pause in the middle of eating and ask yourself how the food tastes and what your current level of fullness is.”
Although this principle may seem simple in theory, it requires practice. Many factors throughout the day can pull us away from listening to our body’s cues: social gatherings, busy work schedules, and daily stress can all get in the way of us eating to a comfortable level of fullness.
Putting the Principle into Practice
One of the best ways to determine if you are feeling hungry or full is to take a moment to pause and connect with your body. The next time you sit down to eat, take a minute in the middle of your meal to stop and check in. How do you feel? Can you identify the feeling as hunger or fullness? Is it pleasant or unpleasant? What sensations do you feel in your body that help you to pinpoint how you are feeling?
After you’ve identified how you feel, how can you acknowledge, respect, and honor what your body is telling you?
Tips for Practicing “Feel Your Fullness”
- Minimize distractions while eating. This means taking a moment to put away any distractions, such as your phone, and using this time to really experience what you are eating with all of your senses.
- Honor your hunger (see hunger scale below) to prevention over-hunger (2 or below) which can lead to fast eating and uncomfortable fullness (9, 10).
- Contemplate how you want to feel after eating a meal or snack.
- If you have “clean-your-plate” mentality, begin exploring its origins and how it is/is not currently serving you.
- Optimize your eating environment—pleasant and relaxed so you can connect with your body’s cues.
- Practice saying no to those pressuring you to eat more.
- Experiment with different foods to discover which ones have staying power and increase fullness.
- Be open to exploring “the last bite threshold”—that subtle stopping point that leads you feeling comfortable and satisfied.
The most important thing to recognize with this principle is that there is no expectation that you follow it perfectly. It is all about progress, not perfection, and progress cannot occur without setbacks. Overeating is an opportunity to reflect and learn—reserve judgement and show self-compassion. In the long run, this helps to gain a deeper understanding and a more peaceful relationship with food.
Perks You Can Expect
Since Intuitive Eating is not based on a strict set of rules like a diet, it is a more sustainable eating approach that can be adopted for a longer period of time. Intuitive Eating has been shown to improve physical and mental wellbeing, as well as reduce disordered eating. Moreover, Intuitive Eating has been correlated to a lowered risk of heart disease.
Intuitive Eating is a sustainable practice that encourages a healthier relationship with food and may result in overall health benefits. Beware of diet culture sneakily co-opting Intuitive Eating as the disguise “hunger fullness diet.” Want to learn more about Feeling Your Fullness and Intuitive Eating? KRNC highly recommends the book “Intuitive Eating 4th edition” by Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch and their “The Intuitive Eating Workbook.” Seeking 1:1 support? Reach out to KRNC to meet with a Certified Intuitive Eating Specialist.
Get to Know our Author:
Giunta is a 2nd year master’s student, majoring in Nutrition. She is particularly interested helping those that deal with the double burden of malnutrition. A fun fact about Giunta: she just adopted a sweet little rescue dog named Carson.
For additional resources for healthy eating, check out these programs from our registered dietitian nutritionists. Find delicious and healthy recipes on our Recipes page! More health tips are also available at the College of Health and Human Sciences Pinterest board. Lastly, don’t forget to sign up for the KRNC monthly newsletter!