The difference between “full” and “satisfied”
Have you ever had a full tummy after eating a healthy meal, and yet found yourself trolling through the cupboards or fridge a few minutes or hours later looking for something else to eat? Why does this happen? I mean…you actually aren’t hungry – so why do you keep wanting to eat?
The reason…is because being “full” and being “satisfied” are not the same thing.
“Fullness” relates to how stretched your stomach feels and it comes in varying degrees. At one extreme, you can eat just enough to take the edge off your hunger, knowing full well you may need to eat again in a few hours. At the other extreme, you can eat so much that you need to undo the top button of your trousers or you feel physically sick or in pain. Or somewhere in the middle, you can eat enough that you feel a bit of stretch in your stomach (just enough to know that you’ve eaten something), but not so much that you feel sleepy and sluggish. Becoming “full” isn’t hard to accomplish because you can eat pretty much anything and become “full” – 2 litres of water, 2 heads of lettuce…a take away curry…they all serve the same purpose if “fullness” is the only thing you are thinking about.
“Satisfaction” on the other hand, has to do with the mind and how much pleasure or enjoyment you get from the food while you are eating it…and how much it really “hits the spot.” And that’s where most people struggle…particularly if they have a history of dieting.
You can go on any dieting website and come up with a list of “healthy” alternatives — telling you to eat fruit instead of chocolate for example. Well I don’t know about you, but when I crave chocolate, eating an apple is absolutely not going to cut it. The two don’t taste anything alike — one is room temperature, smooth, sweet and melts on your tongue. The other is crunchy, juicy, a bit sour/acidic and sweet. In a blind taste test, there is no way you would mistake those two things. Besides, you’ve likely already tried to pacify yourself with a food which really isn’t really hitting the spot, only to realise that you ended up eating more food/calories overall. Wouldn’t it be better to just start with what you want in the first place?
To achieve a healthy weight, the goal is to reach “fullness” and “satisfaction” at roughly the same time in a meal, so that you don’t take in more food or calories than what your body needs. This is certainly an art and takes a lot of practice.
Here are some tips to get you started:
1) Give some thought BEFORE you eat, to exactly what you are in the mood for (eg. Hot/cold; sweet/salty; creamy/crunchy) and then think of the healthiest way to achieve this while still giving you the satisfaction you are looking for.
Craving chocolate? Does it have to be a piece of chocolate, or would hot chocolate, chocolate milk or a choc-ice do the trick? If it has to be a piece of chocolate, does it need to be plain or with nuts…milk chocolate or dark? The answer will likely be different on different days because each of these options will give you a completely different sensory experience. And then think about, what’s the smallest amount of that food which will make you feel satisfied? Does it have to be a bar of chocolate? Or would a few squares do the trick?
2) Now before you actually eat that food, imagine eating it…the flavours..the textures….how it will feel in your mouth as you are chewing and how it will feel in your stomach after you have finished eating.
Is that food REALLY going to hit the spot? You might need to imagine a few different foods, or a few different combinations, before you figure out exactly what your body and mind are in the mood for and what will leave you feeling your best.
3) Pay attention to your food when you are eating it.
Why? Because since it’s your mind which determines your level of satisfaction, you need to allow your brain to take in the taste, texture, colour, and temperature of the food…how it feels in your mouth…whether it tastes like you expected it to taste…and whether it is really “hitting the spot” or not. If you are eating while doing something else – driving, watching TV, checking your phone, etc, your brain misses all of this information and will send you searching for more and more food until this need is met (regardless of how full your stomach is). The more distracted you are, the more food it is going to take to “feed” this part of your brain and make it “satisfied.”
4) If, after the first 1-2 bites of food, the food isn’t really hitting the spot, then stop eating it!
Why are you wasting valuable stomach space on something which isn’t going to satisfy you? Save the remnants for a later time when you either have no strong food preferences or for a time when that particular flavour/texture combination is really going to hit the spot. Or, if you are in a situation where you can’t get what you really want, eat the smallest amount possible to take the edge off your hunger and then aim to get it right the next time when you feel hungry.
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