How to Stop Overeating When Full and at Meals

Most of us would describe hunger similarly: An empty feeling in the stomach, growling or pangs, maybe even inability to focus on a task. But fullness cues can be tougher to recognize and listen to than hunger cues. After years of dieting and/or emotional eating, many of our participants say they’ve lost touch with their bodies’ natural appetites and have a hard time knowing whether they’ve had enough to eat…or not. Some feel so confused or guilty or out of touch that they only know they’re full when they eat until they’re sick.

If that sounds familiar to you, let us reassure you. You can relearn how to listen to your body, and how to stop eating when you’re full, even your favorite foods.

Learn to Stop Eating When You’re Full

4 Clues That You’re Full (or Almost There)

At Green Mountain we teach our participants to look out for a few very common signs of fullness:

  • a slowed pace of eatingHow to Stop Eating When Full
  • less flavor in the food (also, noticing less texture or aroma)
  • taking a deep breath or sighing
  • feeling a slight stretch and weight in the stomach

Noticing these sensations is the first step. The next is to simply pause.

Common Triggers for Overeating

There are plenty of triggers that encourage people to eat beyond a comfortable feeling of fullness. Part of what we do at Green Mountain is help women recognize and minimize these triggers in their everyday lives.

Noticing signs of fullness offers you a split-second pause during which you can check in with yourself for a quick assessment: Are you enjoying the food? What’s your body saying? Are there any triggers present that could push you to eat more than you actually want or need to? Some common triggers you might struggle with:

  • mindless/distracted eating, like while you’re working or concentrating on something else
  • taking large portions
  • eating quickly
  • always pairing eating with a specific activity, for instance, watching TV; the activities become linked and when you watch TV, you automatically want food
  • eating with others who need/eat more than we normally do
  • extreme flavors (such as something super salty or sweet) triggering cravings for an opposite flavor
  • constant food exposure
  • emotional eating

Identifying overeating triggers gives you the chance to remove them—or, if that’s not possible, at least recognize they’re there: “I see you, trigger. I can choose whether or not to go along with you.”

Smart Ways to End A Meal

Sometimes the urge to keep eating lingers even though you are comfortably full and have eliminated obvious triggers. Sometimes a “wrap-up” technique can help. Here are a few that work for participants at Green Mountain:

  • remind yourself that you’ll eat again, this isn’t your last meal
  • remind yourself that food actually tastes better when you are hungry, so choosing to eat more later will  be more satisfying than just finishing everything now
  • allow yourself to have whatever it is that you want at the next meal
  • try a closure habit such as a cup of hot tea, coffee, seltzer, mint, gum, piece of chocolate, or brushing your teeth to cleanse the palette of the taste of whatever you were just eating
  • reward yourself immediately after the meal so you can transition from one rewarding activity to another instead of feeling down about the meal ending, you can be excited for the next activity

Learning to stop eating when you’re full can take practice. The experts at Green Mountain have more than 45 years helping women learn to do it. Email us and find out if our program is right for you.

2 responses to “How to Stop Overeating When Full and at Meals”

  1. Deborah says:

    I must confess I do know when I’m full. It’s the desire to continue that’s my problem and I guess the ‘why’ can vary. Sometimes it’s about eating emotionally (out of anger etc) or sometimes it’s cos whatever I’m eating is delicious and I struggle to remember I can put it away and finish it later. (It has to be eaten NOW!)

    (Yes, I’m all about the instant gratification!)


  2. Maura says:

    This is probably my biggest area of struggle with intuitive eating. I cane easily recognize hunger (as long as I let myself get hungry). I even recognize when I’m satisfied. Acting on that recognition is another story. Looking forward to part 2.

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