Why is it that every festive occasion seems to demand we stuff ourselves? Whether its a wedding or a birthday, a family reunion or a special holiday, our celebrations tend to center around lots and lots of food. So, we eat it, because it’s too good not too! But then the downward spiral starts. We overeat, overdrink, and then wake up the next morning feeling guilty and generally icky. The happy occasion we were meant to commemorate has transformed into an event that leaves us with all sorts of negative feelings.

Well, I have some tricks that can help you next time you’re at a food-centric event: 

The Fullness Scale  

fullness scale diagram 10 = Stuffed, 0 = famished. Optimal 7 = Satisfied.

The Fullness Scale is one of the most powerful tools I have found that helps when learning to eat intuitively. Since we don’t yet have an app to measure our true fullness for us, we have to rely on a bit of self-awareness. I visualize The Fullness Scale as a thermometer with hash marks from 0 (famished) and 10 (that feeling when you have to undo your top pants button or you can’t seem to take even a shallow breath of air…ouch).

The idea is to stop eating when you are feeling about a  7 out of 10, just 70% full. At this level, you’re at a happy medium. You’re satisfied and have fueled your body, but you’re still a far cry from that can’t-move-can’t-breath kind of full. It’s kind of like a pause or a comma before the heaviness of FULL kicks in. 

At your next meal, try checking in with yourself before, during, and after you eat. It might take a little while to learn your own bodies hunger and fullness cues, but once you start paying attention to how you feel during a meal you’ll quickly learn what a level 6-7 feels like to you. 

Take a pause and just breathe!

Next time you feel that overwhelming need for MORE, try this: instead of reaching for another bite, pause for a deep, cleansing, centering breath. Take 20 seconds to just breathe some deep breaths and check-in with your body. In those 20 seconds, think about where you are on the Fullness Scale and what deeper need is showing up. 

Sometimes our wanting of more food might actually be a signal for wanting more from life. It might be a response to a lack of love or praise, or maybe eating has become your unconscious way of drowning out negative self talk. Taking the time to check in with yourself emotionally is a great way to separate real hunger from emotional hunger. 

Prioritize your body signals over being “polite”

Most of us were raised in a world where politeness came above all else. We grew up being told to always say yes when offered something, because it’s the polite thing to do, even when it wasn’t what we really wanted.

Has that habit stayed with you in your adult life? It sure has for me, and I still find myself worrying about hurting someone’s feelings if I say no. Sounds kind of ridiculous, no? It wasn’t until I realized that it’s my responsibility to myself to listen to my OWN needs first that I realized it’s actually totally OKAY to say no sometimes. Turns out, “No thank you” works wonders, and I no longer leave feeling guilty. 

Now that the food overload of the holidays has passed, let’s get curious about how we can listen to our bodies better. Practice using the fullness scale during your meals and snacks. Remember that you have a few choices when reaching for another serving. And finally, you can still use your manners and honor your body wisdom.

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