I eat and eat but I’m never full

I had a conversation with a lady yesterday, and in that conversation she told me that she often eats and eats and eats and she’s never full. This is so common. It is something that comes up so often with people who are struggling with their relationship with food and have spent years dieting. 

I believe that is because we’re not in tune with our bodies anymore. We don’t know what we truly want to eat. Our physical signals around food have been silenced and so we don’t know what our body needs. We can’t hear it, can’t feel it, and so we eat what we think we should eat, what we’re told to eat, and we don’t give our body a chance to say what it wants. In doing that, we’re not satisfying our body and we crave more food.

it starts when we are young

From a very young age, we’re told what to eat and when to eat it. 

As a baby we can demand food, but as we become a toddler the people who care for us override our natural instincts by putting rules in place. We’re told what we’ll have for breakfast, what we’ll have for lunch, what we’ll have for our evening meal. We are told what snacks we’ll have and at what times we’ll eat them. 

Then a little later we’re eating according to what time school says we can eat. Our meal and snack times are rigidly set, and you’ll eat then, whether you are hungry or not. Right up until adulthood we’re told what we’re eating and when we’re eating it, because quite often even into our teens our parents will be making our meals.

As we get older, that doesn’t really change. As adults we’re still eating according to a pattern of time. Maybe you’ll eat according to the times you’re used to eating, or maybe it’s other influences, such as what time our employers say we can eat.

If you go into your adult life being a dieter, you are continuing these patterns. You’re told by a diet company what you can eat and what you can’t eat. You’re told how much of it you should eat and what you should restrict.

We never give ourselves the space to stop that and let our body tell us what we want to eat. If you take out all the food rules and become a more intuitive eater your body will tell you what it wants at any given time.

I wore a groove in the kitchen floor with endless trips to the fridge, hoping against hope that I had somehow missed a plateful of cold sausages on the previous 4,000 excursions.

Jeremy clarkson

the same food, day in, day out

I’m willing to bet that today you got up out of bed and went through the same old routine as you always do?

You put some bread in the toaster and made yourself a cup of tea. You had a snack mid morning, biscuits or a piece of fruit? For lunch you had what you would always have for lunch, give or take a bit of variety. Maybe you changed the filling in your sandwich or the flavour of your crisps?

In the evening, you will eat at your usual time and you’ll have one of your family’s usual meals. Some people try new recipes, but on the whole we do tend to stick to the meals that we know and love. It’s easier after a busy day at work, and new recipes are scary!

On the whole you eat the same old trusted foods, day in, day out? Does that sound familiar?

In doing that though, even if you’re not actively dieting, you’re still not giving your body a chance to say its piece and tell you what it wants.

Next time you go to prepare a meal or a snack, ask yourself this question.

What do i really want to eat?

“What do I really, really want to eat right now?”

When you get up in the morning and you’re preparing your breakfast, stop and think, “Do I really want this toast that I have every morning or would something else be more satisfying?”. Maybe you fancy some fruit today? Maybe some cereal or some yoghurt?

I say those foods because they’re all typical breakfast foods but they’re not necessarily the things you should eat. Maybe you want last night’s lasagne that you couldn’t finish, so you’d put it in the fridge. Who says breakfast foods have to be breakfast foods? Who says that your leftover lasagne can’t be breakfast.

As you go through the day, each time you think about eating consider whether what you’re going to eat is actually what you want to eat, or is it what you think you should eat?

When you start paying attention to the food you would like to eat rather than what you think you should eat you will start to become more satisfied with your food. Maybe you will find that often you were not hungry, you just weren’t satisfied with the food you had eaten before.

This isn’t about finding a way to eat less. It’s about knowing that the food that you want to eat is really satisfying you. Food is there to be enjoyed and to make you feel good and feel satisfied. It’s not just fuel or a gap filler.

Now, tell me what meals and snacks did you change after reading this? Drop a comment – I’d love to hear from you.

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Please note, this post is intended to be general information only. Every care has been taken to ensure that facts and figures are correct at the time of posting. As always, please seek the support of a registered professional before making changes to your diet or lifestyle⁠, or if you feel that you are affected by any of the topics discussed.

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