How to deal with feeling full | eating disorder recovery

Yesterday, i posted about how to cope with feeling full, as it had been afrequent question and requested topic i had gotten in my messages. But i thought i would share it here as well, for anyone who may search for this topic on  Google.

Dealing with feeling full.

For the majority of people, feeling full/satisfied is a good feeling, it means you have eaten and nourished your body. It means you are satisfied and no longer have the annoying hunger feelings. However, for someone struggling with an eating disorder… fullness can be negative feelings, whereas hunger feelings can be related to positiv feelings.

For me personally, in the past feeling full was an incredible trigger for anxiety. As soon as i began feeling the uncomfortable fullness feeling – which happened relatively quick – i would begin to feel anxious. Not only was it fullness feelings i had to sit with, but also anxiety which made the whole situation worse.

In the past, there was no way i could eat the portion sizes i do now. It would have been far too much food for my stomach to handle, not just physically, but mentally as well. However, during the recovery process it meant gradually increasing my intake. Learning to sit with the uncomfortable fullness feeling and also expand my stomach size, buecause when you don’t eat, your stomach size also decreases hence why you feel full after a very small amount.  But you stomach can expand and decrease, so overtime, your stomach and body will adapt.

But also, mentally you learn to deal with the fullness. You learn to realise that it isn’t a bad feeling or something to feel guilt over. It means you have nourished your body. It is a normal feeling.

Sure, feeling over full after eating a little too kuch than your stomach allows may not be the besy feeling. But feeling satisfied after a meal is what you should aim for. Not overly full, but not still hungry… and also, not getting cravings 15 minutes after eating (everyday.. once in a while is normal).

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I know that many with an eating disorder avoid eating util satisfied or full because it causes too much of a trigger and negative feelings. But if you are always going around slightly hungry and never satisfied, your mind will always be on food. But also, you never learn to face that fear of being full. And part of recovery means facing your fears.

So how to deal with fullness? Overtime increase your portion size. Eat a little more so you feel satisfied. Know that nothing is wrong with feeling full. Sit with the anxiety or distract yourself… and over time it gets easier. Overtime your body adapts and that full feeling doesn’t trigger negative emotions.

Eating isn’t something to feel guilty about or ashamed over. It’s ok to feel full… infact walking around constantly hungry is not normal or ok. Feeding and fueling your body is what is healthy.

 

Starving yourself is not a sign of strength and being able to disregard normal hunger signals is not a sign of strength.

Of course i know for many who struggle with binge eating or bulimia, it can be the opposite where you are constantly hungry/mentally hungry, and then having to withstand the mental/emotional hunger is what is part of finding balance with food. So i know for some who struggle with binge eating, feeling hungry can actually be a negative emotion/trigger, and they don’t ever want to feel hungry. But at the same time feeling full can be a trigger, and can lead to compensation methods to get rid of that full feeling.

But learning to sit with the fullness, either distract yourself or just sit with the feeling, is the only way to get used to and learn to be ok with the feeling.

Though as mentioned, being overly full where you feel like you will get sick, is not the feeling you should have after eating. However being satisfied. And over time your body gets better at digesting the food and it won’t cause as much discomfort once your body has adapted.

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Lily says:

    Thank you for addressing this topic as I think it’s quite importsnt for those struggling with an ED. However the real difficulty, in my opinion, and I guess you experienced it as well back then, is to be able to tell which feeling of fullness equals feeling satisfied. As anxiety creeps in with being slightly full, it is easy to feel uncomfortably full, to the extent of feeling sick! So it’s really hard to tell if it is “just” anxiety, or literally feeling stuffed.

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    1. That is a very good point… when your stomach size is small, or when you feel anxious about eating the anxiety can make you feel full quickly and lose your appetite, which then also makes it harder to eat. The only way is to try to really destress before and after a meal, and find ways to cope with the anxiety… but it is a struggle at first, both the mental and physical discomfort. But over time it does get easier with both, i.e the anxiety should lessen and your body adapts to the amount of food. But this is one of the reasons i do usually recommend a meal plan in recovery ,because then you know how much to eat and you eat that amount no matter how you feel and so you don’t have to guess whether a certain amount is enough or not, because you already have it calculated out for you (by a dietitan or nutritionist).

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  2. carol says:

    sitting down quietly after a meal with a hot water bottle on my tummy used to help me.It helped me relax and was very comforting on my stomach. And you are so right that your body adapts to eating more food – you just need to persevere and push through the difficulties. It really does get better in time.

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    1. Exactly. I remember in Mando – the treatment centre – i went to, there were these warm weighted(?) pillow things which we could get if we had alot of stomach discomfort, and it did work. It is tough, but it does get better and your body adapts over time!!

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  3. Callie S. says:

    I can absolutely relate, thank you for sharing.

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