I took a workshop on nutrition a few months ago and the instructor asked the class, " How do you know when to stop eating?" Everyone responded, "When I am full." To that the teacher explained that a survey was done asking that very question in China and the typical response there was, "When I am no longer hungry." She asked us to think about whether our typical American answer could have anything to do with the obesity issue in this country? I have definitely thought about that for a long time. I began to listen to everyone from my family members to those in the food industry to see how they inquired about whether I was done with a meal and I have heard over and over and over, "Are you full yet?" I was never aware of this prior to the workshop.
The instructor presented a user friendly approach to hunger and satiety. I have begun using this with my students and clients as a healthy minded approach to nutrition. When one is thinking about food, consider a 10 point scale with 1 being "I just ate," and 10 being "stupid hungry." We should never allow ourselves to get to stupid hungry because bad behavior happens there, just like if we have just eaten, we should wait until proper hunger signals because that is emotional eating from boredom or stress. The best time to eat is when one is at the middle of the scale. The middle of the scale means one's body is feeling a little fatigued, one may hear a little growl in the stomach, or one's concentration is lowered. Food, at that point, will bring one back to rights and one is less likely to binge.
The same scale is used to signal when to stop eating with 1 being "still hungry" and 10 being "completely stuffed and have to unbutton one's pants." Again, the middle of the scale is where one would feel "no longer hungry" and be able to go ahead with the day and not be knocked off balance by too much food. This is very much in line with trainers and nutritionists telling us to eat 5 small meals a day, so one never feels really hungry or really full!