At dinner celebrating a friend’s birthday, I was full and satisfied by dessert time, while she’d eaten a small dinner just to save room for dessert. She ordered key lime pie which came with a slab of dark chocolate melted on top of it and the waiter brought over a dish of chocolate chip ice cream as well because I’d mentioned that it was her big day. I managed to down a few spoonsful of ice cream, which she insisted I share, then watched her polish off the pie. When she was done, she asked if I wished to take home the remaining ice cream and slab of chocolate and I joyfully took it off her hands.

I don’t care for dessert after a meal when I’m usually full. From my diet-binge days, I hate feeling uncomfortably full or too hungry. My habit is to eat seven or eight mini-meals daily, just enough to take away hunger and fuel me for a few hours. I most enjoy some tiny bit of sweet while watching the 11:00 news before bedtime, which is how I ended up eating the chocolate slab and remains of the ice cream, a divine experience.

When I was done, I realized how far I’d come from my decades of bingeing and over-eating, and that a major change was the meaning I now made of full and satisfied. Full no longer was a sad moment, but a welcome marker of enoughness. It didn’t mean, “Too bad you need to stop eating cause there’s all that food out there that you didn’t eat—and could.” Feeling full didn’t make me yearn to not be full so that I could eat more. Stopping eating didn’t feel unfair or deprivational, an act I should do or had to do.

Feeling full and satisfied after dinner with my friend was a glorious feeling on many levels. It meant I was in tune with my body and that my appetite cues were guiding my eating so that I didn’t need to think much about it. It meant I’d enjoyed pleasure and had nourished myself well. What a proud feeling that is, especially after having spent the first half of my life not trusting my body or mind to regulate my eating. Leaving the restaurant, I had felt satisfied, at peace, content, and without food longings. I could have my friend’s leftover dessert whenever I craved it, today, tomorrow or the next day.

While I was enjoying dessert, though I was watching the news, I was mostly focused on what was going on in my mouth. I was engrossed in connecting to taste and texture and was feeling so happy that I’d not eaten more dessert after my meal when doing so would have made me uncomfortably full and I wouldn’t have enjoyed it. Like most people, I occasionally overeat and find it an unpleasant but insignificant experience. I dislike feeling overly full so much that I’d rather forgo food (seconds, desserts, etc.) to avoid the discomfort it brings.

Make new meanings of full and satisfied and you’ll see a shift in your eating. Think of these appetite states as positive, joyful experiences, not ones to dread, ignore and avoid by eating beyond enough. Don’t think of them as the end of a terrific journey, only as a resting place, and know that when it’s time, you can eat again.

Best,

Karen

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