Nourish and Nurture

Discover Your Fullness

November 01, 2023 Miriam Hatoum Season 3 Episode 74
Nourish and Nurture
Discover Your Fullness
Show Notes Transcript

Episode #74: Discover Your Fullness

I think for a lot of us, it’s not the hunger end of the scale that stymies us, it’s the fullness end. There are so many reasons why this happens, especially if you are eating in response to external cues, and you might be saying to yourself:

·       It’s time to eat

·       I always clean my plate.

·       I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

·       I always snack or graze.

·       I eat for the distraction because I’m angry, bored, lonely or upset.

·       I eat because the food looks so good.

·       I eat because the food smells and tastes so good.

·       I eat because it’s a special occasion.

·       I eat because it’s a gift.

·       I eat because I don’t want to waste food.

·       I never eat because I am actually hungry.

Can you think of more? Do any of them have to do with hunger? How will you know you are full if you are not eating because you are hungry? 

This episode will help you unravel finding your fullness cues.

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Episode #: 74.  Feel Your Fullness, Part 1


You’re Listening to the Keto and Low Carb Success podcast, Episode #74, Feel Your Fullness, Part 1.




Did you know that you don't have to spend money on a diet program or weigh, measure and track your food? What if you could learn to have success by following an easy roadmap that takes you on adventures from learning how to change your mindset so that you can believe in yourself, to learning about what foods work best in your body and why? Join me, Miriam Hatoum, health coach, course creator and author of Conquer Cravings with Keto, as I give you actionable coaching advice that is sure to empower you so that you will finally find peace with food and learn to trust your body’s signals. You’ve got this, girl! 


Be sure to go to to get all the free guides to help you along the way. I am in your shoes, my friends, and I wrote these guides for both of us. The link is in the show notes and transcripts.


Oh, and before we start, I want to let you know that the primary purpose of this podcast and the course is to educate and does not constitute medical advice or service, and I’m keeping up with the science as fast as I can so I can share with you the latest breaking research in this area to help you achieve your dreams!

I think for a lot of us, it’s not the hunger end of the scale that stymies us, it’s the fullness end. There are so many reasons why this happens, especially if you are eating in response to external cues, and you might be saying to yourself:

·       It’s time to eat

·       I always clean my plate.

·       I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

·       I always snack or graze.

·       I eat for the distraction because I’m angry, bored, lonely or upset.

·       I eat because the food looks so good.

·       I eat because the food smells and tastes so good.

·       I eat because it’s a special occasion.

·       I eat because it’s a gift.

·       I eat because I don’t want to waste food.

·       I never eat because I am actually hungry.

Can you think of more? Do any of them have to do with hunger? How will you know you are full if you are not eating because you are hungry? I have done so many podcast episodes and blogs on this, including the one a few weeks ago on Honor Your Hunger. By now you are not a stranger to the hunger end of the scale. I have also done several blogs and podcast episodes that address the other end of the scale, which is feeling your fulness, but let’s see how Resch and Tribole address this within the Intuitive Eating program.

Barriers to feeling fullness

They have several activities to help you really pay attention but first they talk about barriers to experiencing fullness, beginning with distraction. We think we can multitask while we eat. Of course, we can do something while we are eating like watch TV or text or anything else, but you can only focus on one thing. I went down a rabbit hole with the topic. I have known through my studies for a long time that the brain is wired to think of only one thing at a time, but the depth to which this is true is amazing. Neurological science has actually demonstrated that the human brain is incapable of focusing on two things at once. Yes, you can DO more than one thing at a time, but how much of it is focused?

 You can respond to emails while listening to the television. But honestly, if you REALLY want to catch everything in the show, do you have to go back and listen again? Do you pause during commercials so you can really concentrate on that email? You can start two projects and work on them concurrently but is it side-to-side work or serial or sequential work rather than both REALLY at the sale moment in time? Are you ever talking to someone on the phone, but you are also trying to pay attention to your kid who wants something? Do either really get your attention? How long does it take before you realize you haven’t heard one or the other.  

When you are multitasking, you are living in a distracted state. This distraction is a huge contributor to dampening your fullness cues. When you are eating do you:

·       Watch TV, text or surf the internet?

·       Read a book, read social media, or even the cereal box?

·       Do you check your email or sort through paper mail?

·       Do you eat while working at your desk or driving?

How often is this?

·       Every meal or most meals?

·       Only certain meals?

·       Only snacks?

The exercise for me was to think back to when I was engaged in these activities while eating. For me the big one is having the TV on. Honestly, I rarely ever just sit and watch TV. It is usually another layer for me. So, in the morning, I will have the TV on, just minimally processing what is being broadcast; I will be texting with a friend whom I “meet” every morning over coffee; AND I will be eating my breakfast. YIKES!

Lunch and snacks might be with TV and some sort of electronic activity like checking email or playing a game.

No wonder my breakfast is gone before I even know I’ve eaten it. No wonder after lunch I feel that I just need a little something else. I rarely do this at dinner, but I see how I am really short-changing myself for other meals. Not only does the distracted quality of my meals take away from really feeling my fullness, but I am also missing out on the satisfaction element of my meals. I probably don’t need a little something extra. It’s more likely that I didn’t notice what I was eating.

A second barrier to being able to feel your fullness is that we tend not to make an optimal eating environment which allows us to connect to our bodies and nourish them.

The two things to do to make an optimal eating environment is to set boundaries and create a pleasant environment. 

Setting boundaries means to turn off all electronics, including those being used by other family members and to establish the expectation that mealtimes are not the place to hash out disagreements. The first one for me is mixed. I do have that habit of eating in front of the TV at least at breakfast. Lunch is hit or miss. Dinner is always at the dining room table with no TV. And, it drives me crazy when my daughter and son-in-law take out their cell phones. I usually speak up and make no secret of how it upsets me, but I haven’t gotten to the point where I make them put them in a different room. They do apologize and/or justify when they use them during a meal, but after writing this, I see I have to be firmer about it. 

Also, with regard to not having disagreements at the table. That never happens anyway, but I want to share a story from my working days. I was a member of the union where I worked, and specifically a member of the grievance committee. We had one supervisor who loved to call lunch meetings, and thought she was being all wonderful if she ordered out at lunch. I made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that we were not to eat during a meeting whether or not she ordered out and paid for our lunches. PERIOD. We could have lunch together and chit chat with a segue into a work meeting, but if we did that we still all got another hour to just have lunch. If she was going to rob us of our down time then she was going to pay for it with more than Chinese food or pizza. 

On to creating a pleasant environment: The three suggestions are first, to designate one spot for eating such as the kitchen or dining room table. The second suggestion is to set a regular place setting – with a plate, utensils and napkin. The third is to create a pleasant ambience by playing music, lighting a candle, or putting flowers on the table. I checked off the last one as unlikely, although my dining room table always has a seasonal tablecloth on it and a flower arrangement in the middle.

With regard to the first one, when I am not having breakfast watching the TV while on my recliner the only three places I eat are at the dining room table, on the deck if it is nice weather, and at the beach if it is really nice weather. But I am no longer a car or standing eater. I broke those habits years ago, thank heavens. 

As to the second one – even in the morning for breakfast when I am not at the table, I use China, real silverware and napkins. Lately, when my daughter comes over, I use my mother’s real silver, even if it means I have to polish it every couple of weeks. I take tremendous pride and satisfaction in setting a beautiful table and honestly, I should do it at least at lunch too even if I don’t for breakfast. 

The point of all these ways to set yourself up with an optimal environment is that it helps you pay attention to what you are eating, including savoring what you are eating, and thus you have a much easier time of being able to sense your fullness.

A third barrier is if you find yourself a member of the Clean Plate Club. Being driven to finish all the food on your plate disconnects you from your internal body cues. Instead of feeling at what point your body is telling you to stop, you use the clean plate or bowl – or empty package or empty container to tell you that you are done eating. 

The workbook gives a clean plate assessment. There were 13 factors, and I checked off six of them. The issue of scarcity was not a problem for me. There was always enough food for everyone with plenty left for seconds and even thirds. I also don’t remember being told that I had to finish my dinner before I could have dessert – which there always was at dinner. I also never worried about hurting someone’s feelings if I didn’t eat or finish a certain food. 

Some of my pitfalls were – and some still are – 

·       Being very hungry with a high sense of urgency to eat. 

·       Finishing all of a unit – such as, if I am given a sandwich I eat the entire thing and same with cookies, cake or whatever. 

·       Eating very fast and typically finishing before anyone else at the table.

·       Tending to overeat at a restaurant or buffet – but they suggested it is about getting my money’s worth which is never the case for me. It is more that everything is so yummy and not something I would make for myself, and the portions are big, and I just want to keep eating. I coach on taking home doggie bags and going out a second time if there is a food you would never make for yourself. However, as I always say, I am you and you are me, so I have the same struggles.

There were a couple of reflection questions with this such as how often do I do this, and is it automatic, and do I find it difficult sometimes to stop. The exercise, which I also teach is the “leaving two bites behind” technique. I was once in a program that advocated this and so many people took the two bites off their plate before eating, but they so missed the point. Leaving the two bites behind wasn’t to eat less, it was to wrestle with what comes up when you do leave the bites behind. 

I can’t begin to tell you the battle that goes on in your mind when you stare down two bites of cake, a corner of a sandwich, or two chips. And don’t just get up and immediately throw those bites into the trash. Look at them. Sit with them. Do some soul searching and see why this is such a struggle. 

Resch and Tribole don’t suggest any more than leaving two bites and tossing them out. The purpose of doing it at all is to break the habit of finishing everything on your plate.

I know for me, facing the emotions that come up when I did this was so helpful. Now I can leave two or more bites behind and not really wrestle with it. Practicing this technique – whether it is to whisk those bites into the trash or sit with them like I did – helps you create the pause you need to exit the world of cleaning your plate. 

Next in the workbook is, what they call, an automatic habit disrupter. I am going to give that to you for this week’s actionable coaching advice. It is something I already suggest to my clients and have spoken about in this podcast and blogs, but I will give you this activity again at the end of the episode. 

Another thing before we leave the Clean Plate Club is something I also suggest, but I am quoting here directly:

            “Make your decision to stop eating a conscious act. If you tend to be a clean plate eater, and you are eating with other people, you may wish to reinforce your decision to stop eating by doing something to make it a conscious act, such as putting your utensils on your plate. This simple act will help to prevent unintentional nibbling on the remaining food.” (end quote)

This is one of the reasons I don’t think taking two bites off your plate before you eat will help you with anything. The point is to make a conscious decision to stop eating. And also, before I leave the topic, I want to add to this by saying that if you are eating at home, even if there are others at the table, when you are done get up and remove your dish. When you are at a restaurant you can ask the server to take away your dish or pack the remaining food to go if it will make a complete meal for you at another time. You can also get up and go to the restroom so you physically leave your food behind and you are less likely to pick at it when you get back to the table.

I am going to split Principle 5, Feel Your Fullness, into two episodes. There are many exercises on getting to know your fullness with worksheets that I do not want to gloss over. I am going to take this week to do all the activities so that I can report my experiences in the hopes that this deeper dive will help you discover this elusive cue.

But, before I close out with this week’s actionable coaching advice, I want to go into one more section of this principle, because it ties into the clean plate club problem, and that is learning to say no. The authors say, “It is not your responsibility to make someone happy by eating more food at the expense of your body and comfort.” 

They give a list of ways you can politely say no, and ask you to check what resonates. There are 10 statements, the first five of which I could see myself saying. The last five were either never, NEVER in caps, NEVER in caps and bolded, or HELL NO.

Here they are. See what might work for you:

1.      No, thank you.

2.     I would love to eat more food, but I couldn’t possibly have another bite. I was okay with that part of the sentence but crossed out “without feeling uncomfortably full.” I would never say that.

3.     Your dessert (or whatever) looks delicious, but I am really too full to eat anything else. But I would love to take some home with me if there is any left over.

4.     No. Thank you. Really. (Do you see the difference between that and #1 which is just No, thank you.?)

5.     Wow, your dish looks amazing. I am really too full to try it, but I would love to get the recipe from you, if you are willing to share it.

These first five statements I have used and so suggest them to my clients. The next five, I can’t see myself saying, but maybe you can:

6.     I just ate dinner and did not realize you would be serving a meal at your party! Everything looks delicious, but I am really too full to eat anything else. But I would be happy to take a doggie bag if you have too many leftovers. That last part I would say about the doggie bag but I don’t think I would ever say no to a meal even if I had just eaten.

7.     I really appreciate that you made my favorite dish. It looks so yummy, and I know you spent a lot of time making it. I would really like to eat this when I can savor and enjoy it, but I’m just too full right now.

8.     No, thank you, again. But I would not feel good physically if I eat any more of your delicious food. I don’t think you would want me to feel ill. Okay I can see myself saying no thank you again and making reference to being stuffed, but I can’t imagine that I would say that part about the person not wanting me to be physically ill.  Going on…

9.     Even just one more bit of food is too much for my body right now. Thank you for respecting my wish to stay comfortable. Okay with the first part of that sentence but I wouldn’t say it that way. Would never say the second part.

10.   Yes, it’s true that I usually say yes to your offers of more food. But I’m really working on listening to my body, for my health and comfort. And I have had enough to eat, thank you. 

I can see how I could modify the Never and Hell No sentences, but hopefully no thank you would work.


This week I want you to do the automatic habit disruptor that Resch and Tribole give in the workbook. It is a left-hand eating experiment.

A lot of our overeating comes from habit, eating too fast, or just general distractions. This exercise is meant to disrupt the autopilot nature of our eating habits which will enable you to savor your food and ultimately be more connected with the physical sensation of fullness.

The exercise is based on a study by Neal et al. in 2011. I looked up the study and read it on PubMed and the reference is in the show notes and transcript. The gist of the study is that, to identify the factors that disrupt and maintain habit performance, two field experiments tested the conditions under which people eat out of habit, leading them to resist motivational influences. Habitual popcorn eaters at a cinema were minimally influenced by their hunger or how much they liked the food, and they ate equal amounts of stale and fresh popcorn. This was the first study, to see whether people paid attention to how much they were eating or the quality of what they were eating. They found that participants ate out of habit, regardless of freshness.

Then the participants were given a container with handle that would only keep from spilling if they put their hand in the handle space against the container and then ate with their non-dominant hand. The result was that less popcorn was eating especially if it was stale, because the subjects were more aware of what they were doing and their actions were no longer automatic.

So that’s the set up for this week’s activity, taken directly from the workbook: 

Preferably in the privacy of your own home, eat at least one meal with your non-dominant hand. Slip the other hand under your thigh, tie your hand to your thigh with a belt, hold it behind your back, or even hold something with it – all to ensure that you do not start eating with the dominant hand. Do this at a meal where you will have plenty of time and not be interrupted. 

Take note of the sensations of emerging fullness as you eat, and the speed at which you are eating. When you are done, answer the following questions:

1.      How long did it take you to eat your meal? How similar or different was the duration of your meal compared to your usual meals?

2.     Was it easier to identify the sensations of emerging fullness? At what point during the meal did you begin to experience this?

3.     What would your eating be like if you were able to eat like this – at this speed and with these same sensations of fullness – when you are using your dominant hand?

Personally, I would do this a few times this week. It’s very helpful, believe me.

Next week’s episode

Next week I will continue with Principle 5: Feel your Fullness. The rest of the workbook chapter explores the characteristics of fullness, factors that influence fullness and there is a look at food that increase fullness and satiety compared to foods with little staying power. There is also an activity for finding your “Last Bite Threshold” that looks very interesting. I am going to do that activity as well as the other worksheets in this chapter and share it all with you. I think there will also be time to cover a few other things that I cover in my course that they do not talk about here, such as your feelings about wasting food. 


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