What does being full actually mean? Is it the amount of calories that you eat? Why do some foods make you more full than others? These are questions that I researched and found the answer to. I will give you a list of tips that you can start doing right away to help tell how full you are. I will also give you a picture of what it looks like in person to do all of these things.
Science breaks fullness down into two categories.
First, there is satiation which is "the process that leads to the termination of eating, which may be accompanied by a feeling of satisfaction." Satiation is the trigger that your body receives to tell you to stop eating. For most people, this will trigger once you have finished eating all the food on your plate.
Science has proven that most people feel satiation when they finish eating whatever is in front of them. This was demonstrated in an experiment that happened called Bottomless Bowls.
The researchers took two different groups at a restaurant that ordered soup and ran an experiment on them. One group was given a regular bowl of soup while the other group was given a bowl that continuously refilled with soup while they were eating.
The results of this study showed that the second group ate 73% more soup than the first group. They also reported feeling just as satiated as the first group despite eating more soup. We often rely on visual cues as the only signal that we should stop eating.
Then, there is satiety which is "The feeling of fullness that persists after eating, potentially suppressing further energy intake until hunger returns." Satiety is the signal your body gives to say that it does not need to eat right now.
You might think that satiety is related to how many calories you eat but that is not true. Calories have nothing to do with satiety. In fact, "calorie for calorie some foods are expected to deliver several times more satiety than others."
Satiety actually is most closely related to the energy density in food. Foods that are high in fat have the most energy density, followed by proteins, then followed by carbohydrates.
Ultra-processed foods such as candy, soft drinks, and bread are examples of foods with low energy density, meaning those foods make you hungry faster.
Satiation and satiety ultimately differ from person to person. "The measurement of satiation and satiety is complicated by the fact that many factors besides these internal signals may influence appetite and energy intake, for example, physical factors such as bodyweight, age or gender, or behavioral factors such as diet or the influence of other people present"
So now that we went over the science of fullness, how do you actually tell when you are full? Here is a list of tips you can use immediately to start recognizing when you are full:
You need to know what fullness feels like before you can tell if you are full. Take the time to experiment and discover what fullness feels like to you after you finish eating. Everyone is different so something that makes one person feel full will not be the same for you. Before eating ask yourself “Am I hungry right now?” and when you are done ask yourself “Am I full?” You should get used to knowing what it feels like to truly be hungry and what it means to truly be full. You ask these questions every time that you eat until it becomes easy for you to do so.
After you start becoming familiar with asking yourself if you are full or not you should start to rate your hunger according to the hunger/fullness scale. Although you should start as a beginner asking yourself yes or no, fullness is not a binary yes or no thing. Rating your fullness consistently gives you a deeper understanding of what your hunger is that you cant get by just asking yes or no. There are levels to the type of fullness that you have. There is fullness where we can eat a few more bites and there is fullness where you feel like you can't eat anything else without getting sick. With practice, you should be able to map the feelings of fullness with greater accuracy and discover new things about feeling full. You might learn that eating something that you previously thought made you full was actually way more than you needed to eat to feel full.
The study that we looked at earlier in this post showed that we rely on visuals to tell when we are full. We can use this fact to our advantage.
You can plate your foods on smaller plates or bowls. You can always decide later on to get more food if you still feel hungry.
This also gives you a chance to take a break where you can ask if you are still hungry or not.
Time is one of the most important factors for satiation. Studies have shown it can take up to 20 minutes after eating for your body to register how full you are. When you eat meals quickly it is impossible to know how full you are until after you stop eating. You might end up feeling more full than you want to by eating fast You should take your time as you eat so that you give your body time to know when you are full. Eat slowly so you can better know the exact point that you full
Since time is the most important factor for feeling your hunger after you eat, it can be beneficial to take a break while you are eating. Because it takes 20 minutes to actually feel full you might want to take the time to stop eating before you finish your plate to give your body time to catch up. Learning to take a break also teaches you to stop while you are eating. One of the hardest things to do is to stop eating when we have food in front of us.