Tips for Eating Just the Right Amount

Many people think their bodies don’t tell them when to stop eating until it’s too late—but this isn’t true. If we learn to listen mindfully, our bodies give us plenty of clues, often quite early during a meal or snack.

Among them:

• A perception of pleasure and flavor that ebbs and flows with each bite

 

• A dissipating sense of hunger

 

• A growing sense of fullness in and around your stomach area

 

• A growing sense of satiety or well being though out your body as blood sugar and other body signals shift

In The Joy of Half a Cookie, we teach you how to tune into all of these clues by showing you how to become more aware—and more mindful. Something that helps with this is to rate these experiences on a 1 to 10 scale, not mechanically, but to help yourself tune into levels of change and how they feel. And there is no right answer—one person’s ‘4’ may not be the same as someone else’s. But it’s likely to stay about the same for you.

In the following practice, excerpted from the book, you’ll see how a small snack affects hunger, fullness and satiety. If you pay close attention, you’ll be able to separate these clues, understanding that a drop in hunger, for example, is not the same as a growing sense of fullness (the sense of pressure in your stomach), which, in turn, is not the same as tuning into a sense of satiety throughout your body. This sophisticated level of mindfulness allows you to easily and thoroughly enjoy half that very large cookie (or so) without struggling over whether to eat more. Note: This is a more advanced practice in program, so if you are having difficulty tuning into shifts in body satiety with a 100-200 calorie snack, then increase the amount somewhat, or try this during a full meal.

 

Practice: Tune In to Your Body Satiety by Enjoying a Small Treat
Learning how to pay attention to your sense of body satiety.

For this practice, you’ll choose a small snack to eat. It should be small enough not to weigh down and expand your stomach by very much. It should also be composed mostly of fast-digesting sugar. That way it will raise your blood sugar quickly, causing you to notice a growing sense of body satiety within 5 or 10 minutes. A candy bar, a couple of cookies, or a glass of orange juice are all options. You might aim to have the full amount add up to 150 to 200 calories. Note: If you have diabetes, you might be able to skip this practice, because, as mentioned earlier, you probably already know what it’s like to take in this type of food when your blood sugar is low.

Consume your treat during a time of day when you feel somewhat hungry, perhaps several hours after your last meal but not just before your next meal.

 

The Practice: How to Enjoy Your Snack

1. Place the snack food in front of you. Close your eyes and do a mini-meditation.

 

2. Once you feel aware, notice sensations in your body. On the 1 to 10 scale, how physically hungry do you feel? How do you know that? Become aware of all of the sensations that have helped you to arrive at your rating.

 

3. Then eat or drink about half of the snack. Immediately after you eat, check your level of fullness. But then wait for at least 5 minutes, preferably for 10 minutes, before coming back to eat more. You can do something else during this time, but you might want to set a timer so you don’t forget to check in.

 

4. Tune in again. Use a mini-meditation to consider how your energy level, mood, and sense of well-being have changed. How has your hunger changed? How full do you feel on the 10-point scale? Can you notice any feelings related to body satiety, on the same 1 to 10 scale? Keep in mind these are not the same things. You might notice more satiety as the sugar energy is absorbed, but less fullness as the snack or liquid moves beyond your stomach. What sensations caused you to change your rating from immediately after eating?

 

5. Then consume the rest of the snack. Remain mindful of the sensations you feel in your body.

 

6. Tune in over the next 5 to 10 minutes and again rate your level of fullness and your body satiety using the same scale. How have they changed? How has this small amount of food affected your sense of well-being, mood, and overall sense of satisfaction? How are these feelings different from each other? What about in 20 minutes?

 

Reflections on the Practice

What have you learned? Do you now feel that you can explore the difference between fullness and body satiety? How about the difference between body satiety and other sensations, such as tiredness or boredom? If you found the differences in these feelings were too subtle, try this with a larger amount of food. Body satiety may still be clearest after a larger meal, about 20 minutes (or longer) after you finish eating. Fullness may be diminishing, as food moves out of your stomach, but body satiety may still be strong—and it’s not just the opposite of no hunger. Keep practicing. Over time, you’ll get better and better at telling the difference.

 

Excerpted from The Joy of Half a Cookie: Using Mindfulness to Lose Weight and End the Struggle with Food by Jean Kristeller, Ph.D., with Alisa Bowman. © 2015 by Jean Kristeller, Ph.D. A Perigee Book, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

 

Photo Credit: Karimpard/Shutterstock


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