Fullness and satisfaction aren’t the same thing

You know when you get to the end of a meal and you’re done eating, but you want to keep eating? Maybe you’re not still hungry. You’re just not satisfied. There’s a huge difference between being full and being satisfied.

What’s the difference between fullness and satisfaction?

Being full is fairly straightforward. It means that you have eaten food, your stomach has food in it, your body will soon work on breaking down said food and turn it into energy. It means that you do not physically feel hungry. But, being full does not always mean that you don’t want anything else to eat.

More often than not, overeating is caused by dissatisfaction with whatever meal we just consumed. Maybe you sat on the couch and ate four slices of pizza, yet you’re left wanting something else. Chances are, you are probably physically full, you just aren’t satisfied.

How do I know when I’m satisfied?

Being satisfied and measuring satisfaction after a meal is complicated for most people, like — um, me. It’s hardly physical. It’s mostly mental. Think of the last time you finished a meal and still wanted something else to eat afterwards. Notice, it’s not that you finished a meal and weren’t full, it’s that you still wanted to eat. Maybe you were:

  • Eating while distracted (watching TV, working at your desk, catching up on emails or driving)
  • Eating off your lap, eating while standing, or while driving
  • Eating quickly or squeezing in a meal before running off to do something else
  • Grazing
  • Not really tasting your food
  • Not primarily focused on food

I’ve noticed that I feel most satisfied after a meal under the following circumstances:

  • I have given my full and undivided attention to my meal
  • I am sitting at my table, which I’ve taken time to set with real plates and flatware, a candle, perhaps flowers
  • I have plated a balanced meal, arranged it nicely and put as much food on the plate as I intend to eat
  • I have taken time to clear my head and set the mood. I’ve maybe turned on music. If I was upset, I make temporary peace with the situation or the events of the day in order to avoid eating when I’m angry, upset or very sad
  • I’ve eaten slowly, not rushing, taking my time to look at the food, chew, taste and swallow before I add more food to my mouth
  • I’m in the company of friends, engaging conversation, laughing, maybe having a drink
  • I have a dessert or anything a bit sweet to round out my meal

Finding satisfaction at meal times

Try setting the table, plating a proper meal and serving yourself a proper portion. Pair your meal with a drink, whether it’s wine or a lemon water. If you have a sweet tooth, decide on your dessert before you start eating, and eat your dessert once your meal is finished. Turn off the distractions. Tune out of the day and tune into your meal. Look at your food, take time to taste it. Make sure your surroundings are pleasant. Is the table clean? Are you arguing with someone? Is the table next to you too loud? Do everything you can to make sure your ambience is palatable.

Finding satisfaction takes time, and you won’t always do it right out of the gate. It’s a practice. Just keep trying. Find what works for you, and realize that not every meal time will be perfectly satisfying. That’s okay. Just start planning your next meal and let it go.


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