Updated: May 9, 2022
By: Rachel Dodson RD, LDN
One of the principles of intuitive eating is “feeling your fullness.” But it’s important to remember, we cannot honor our fullness until we honor our hunger. This means responding to your different types of hunger (physical, taste, emotional, practical), choosing to eat foods that make you feel good + honor what you are craving, and creating meals that include components that are SATISFYING (ie a plate of raw veggies will leave you feeling physically full but NOT satisfied). A registered dietitian can be a great resource to use in order to create meals that are satisfying.
Now that we have honored our hunger, let’s talk fullness. Fullness is complex and can be triggering for so many in recovery so first and foremost, offer yourself a TON of grace and compassion. You will mess up and that is okay because everytime we mess up, we are able to learn for next time. It’s important to remember feeling full is a temporary feeling. Yes, it can be uncomfortable and challenging, but the feeling will go away without you doing anything - it’s how your body naturally works. Your body is smart - you can trust that it knows how to do the things it was created to do, like digesting the food you eat. Your therapist is a great resource to discuss ways you can distract yourself after a meal or to work on how to mindfully sit with fullness to avoid using symptoms.
When we eat food we will experience temporary physical changes - your belly did not have food in it and now it does! That is how the digestive system works - food will sit in your stomach for a short period of time, and then the food will make its way to your intestines. Part of being human is feeling your fullness, but your body will digest the food. As your body digests food, waste is created and nutrients are absorbed. We need nutrients to live and breathe and walk and laugh - and you can trust your body to navigate the digestive process! Recovery reminder your body knows exactly what to do when it comes to digestion and does not need your help in the process. =)
It’s important to be aware of the fact that during recovery, you may experience digestive issues. You should absolutely consult your doctor and see if seeing a GI doctor would be a good fit for you. Often in recovery, you may experience gastroparesis, or slow digestion. If you are skipping meals or not eating adequately enough for your body, the muscles in your intestines are not used to being used and digestion slows! When our digestion slows, we may not feel hunger as often but you still need to eat. You can’t solely rely on your hunger/fullness signals early in recovery because your body is still relearning your body’s signals. Eating enough, eating consistently, and following your meal structure is one of the best ways for your digestion to work it’s way back to a normal pace and to relearn what hunger/fullness feels like in your body. Working through fullness can be uncomfortable + hard, but you can do hard things and recovery is worth the temporary discomfort. Remember, we cannot honor our fullness until we honor our hunger.
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Recovered and Restored is an eating disorder therapy center founded by Gabrielle Morreale. We specialize in helping teens and young women heal from eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia, orthorexia, and binge eating disorder and treat disordered eating, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. We provide eating disorder therapy in the towns of Horsham, Upper Gwynedd, Lower Gwynedd, North Wales, Lansdale, Hatfield, Blue Bell, Doylestown, and nearby towns with eating disorder therapy. Also providing virtual eating disorder therapy in New Jersey, Delaware, and Florida. Some towns served virtually but are not limited to Pittsburg, Lancaster, Harrisburg, Center City, Cherry Hill, Haddonfield, Mount Laurel, Cape May, Avalon, Brick, Dover, New Castle, Bethany Beach, Marydel, and Oceanview.