Should we rely on a feeling of fullness as a signal to stop eating? People often eat until they feel full, but this may not be the best indicator when you are first trying to alter your eating habits to lose weight.
If you are relying on fullness as a signal to stop eating, then you are likely over-eating in the beginning stages of a cut-back. Usually, your stomach will stretch as it is filled with food, which sends signals to the brain that you are full. When you are first trying to lose weight, your stomach is accustomed to larger amounts of food.
Smaller food portions are unlikely to cause that full feeling you are accustomed to. A good way to remedy the “empty tummy” feeling is to add a sizable portion of free foods to each meal. Free foods are high-fiber, low-calorie foods. For example, add extra veggies to your meal.
Vegetables will not only help stretch your stomach to trigger the full feeling, they also add extra fiber to your meal that will cause you to feel satisfied longer.
Another problem with relying on a mental signal to stop eating is that the food may not actually reach your stomach to give you the sensation of fullness until after you have finished eating. This is because the food has to make its way down the digestive track. It usually takes 20 minutes for the brain to register fullness after you eat.
One way to make the meal last longer is to divide it into courses. Instead of eating everything on one plate, consider eating a soup or salad before you eat your main meal. This is an especially helpful strategy when dining out at a buffet-style restaurant.
Instead of a mental signal, try developing a mental picture of what a correct portion size should look like and then stop eating after you have consumed it. We often underestimate the serving sizes of the foods we eat. If you want to learn more about visual equivalents, take a look at this prior post.
Keep in mind that American restaurant portions are huge! We Americans want to feel like we get value for our money, so restaurants charge a lot and give you a lot in exchange. In terms of weight management, it is best to share an American restaurant meal or box up half at the beginning of the meal to remove the temptation.
You should try to avoid using fullness as a signal to stop eating. Instead, learn to recognize other cues like portion size. This one change can keep you from taking in hundreds of extra calories at each meal and you will feel better without the bloated full feeling.
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