Honoring Hunger and Fullness: Just Another Diet?

Honoring hunger and fullness-it’s a key concept in Intuitive Eating but it can be one of the hardest to put into practice. Honoring hunger and fullness essentially means what you might think. It ideally means eating when you are hungry and stopping when you are full.  However, this is a lot more complicated in practice then it sounds. The biggest challenge I hear from client’s around this is that it is easy to turn this into another diet rule. This principle is one that can easily go from the idea that it is helpful to listen to our body’s internal signals around hunger and fullness to the idea that if we overeat we have failed and are not “doing Intuitive Eating correctly”.  This is often a setup for binging. In fact for many people, this can look very much like diet backlash. (See last week’s post for more info on that).  It’s very easy to have the thought of “well I’ve already messed up I’ll start again tomorrow” when we are in this mindset around hunger and fullness. Essentially, this is actually turning the idea of eating intuitively into yet another diet.

So what does looking at the concept of honoring hunger and fullness in a healthier way look like? Well essentially it’s about holding this idea a little more loosely. Looking at anything in regards to our eating as a hard and fast rule to be followed is likely a set up for failure. But, if we can look at this concept as something that we want to be mindful of when eating but not a hard and fast rule, we are more likely to be successful. More importantly, we can acknowledge that we are not going to be perfect at this. We will have times where we overeat. Life happens! We get busy and wait too long to eat, eat too much too quickly, have a hard time stopping because whatever we are eating is just so delicious.. whatever the reason, there will be times when we over eat. How we handle these times are what’s important. 

If we can approach these situations with curiosity instead of judgement when they happen, we can learn so much. Just saying something to ourselves like, “hmm I’m feeling a little too full. What’s going to for me right now? How am I feeling? What might have made me want to eat more of that meal then my body needed?” Asking these type of questions rather than beating ourselves up about the mistakes we make with our eating is not only a better strategy for eating in a mindful way, it’s a much kinder act to ourselves and when all is said and done, isn’t that the most important thing?


Questions about honoring hunger and fullness or anything else food/body related? Feel free to get in touch!