Habit: Eat Until You're 80% Full


There is actually a big difference between eating until you are full and only eating until you are no longer hungry. It takes less food for you to be no longer hungry. For some, it will take about 1/2 as much food for you to be no longer hungry as it would for you to feel full. For others, it may be about 80%. It all depends on how much you normally stuff yourself…

We have all developed a level of being full that feels normal. Unfortunately, for most of us, this corresponds to more food than we need. The purpose of this week’s habit is to re-set the level that feels normal. The habit is stated as “Eat Until You’re 80% Full” just to give you a target, and because I didn’t want to use the words “Stop Eating …” in the title of a habit. But, for each person, the target will be different. For some, the target should be more like “Eat Until You’re 50% Full”, and for some, it may be “Eat Until You’re 85% Full”.

What you’re really trying to do here is to find the percent or amount of food that it takes for you to no longer feel hunger, and stop at that amount. I would suggest starting with 50%. In other words, eat 1/2 your normal amount of food. Then, practice being mindful and eating slowly and paying attention to what your body is telling you. After about fifteen minutes, if you still actually feel hungry, eat a little bit more.

This habit is not easy. It will likely take you three or four or more weeks until this starts to feel normal. But it is worth it. Once you establish this new normal, it will stick with you. I learned this habit 3 1/2 years ago and still eat small meals.

This habit is not a minor change in your eating pattern. As you are establishing this habit, you may start to feel hungry again within a couple hours of your last meal. Please be prepared for this by having a healthy snack or small meal on hand. Perhaps you can save the 50% of your meal that you didn’t eat, and have it a couple hours later when you start to feel (real) hunger.

To Summarize:

  • At your regular meal time, eat 1/2 of your meal. Wait at least 15 minutes to determine if you are still hungry. If so, eat a little bit more. Wrap up the rest of your meal to save for later.
  • When you start to feel (real) hunger, after around 2 hours, eat the rest of your meal. Make sure you have a healthy snack on hand in case you feel real hunger and don’t have part of a meal on hand. (nuts, fruit, veggies, cheese sticks, protein shake, piece of cooked chicken breast)
  • This feels weird at first, but trust me and stick with it.

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