Why Do I Never Feel Full? Discovering the Satisfaction Factor

why do i never feel full

Ever asked yourself “why do I never feel full?”

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You spend your days denying your hunger, your true food preferences and your cravings. You eat things like nonfat yogurt or gluten free bread and you often swap those crispy, salty fries for a limp little side salad – dressing on the side – obvi. 

You’ve memorized the book Eat This, Not That and your brain works like a fast action search engine, exchanging your true desires for their “healthier” counterpart, every single time. 

Even if you do feel physically full, you often find yourself hunting for a little something after meals, snacking all day or maybe even totally losing control at night, mindlessly shoveling it in on the couch after the kids go to bed or full-on binging. 

And all the while you wonder why you never feel satisfied

If this is you, I’d like to draw your attention to a core tenet of Intuitive Eating. Something that you have to bring into focus if you’re ever truly going to get your shit together around this food stuff: the satisfaction factor.

We’re unpacking this über important topic over on the weekly pod lesson as well, if you’d like to pop in your pods and give that a listen.

You see, there are three reasons you never feel satisfied. 

Reason 1. You are not eating enough food to sustain an adult human body. 

Seriously, I know you probably think your problem is that you eat too much or the wrong things but that’s not true. Your problem is that you’re not eating enough and that’s why you’re hungry all the time, never truly satisfied. 

We see this all the time with our clients. Here are two instances in the past few weeks where this came up. 

Client 1 was eating two golf-ball-sized energy bites for breakfast. This is not a meal. She wondered why she was snacking and grazing all day. Once she started eating whole, “big ass” meals of food, the constant preoccupation with food and grazing began to dissipate. 

The best cure for being hungry all the time is to eat. Groundbreaking, I know. At least it was for me when I learned this. I looked up from my rice cake astonished, like “What tf did you just say?” 

By the way, we’ve also dug into this on our YouTube channel, to watch that episode of Wellness Lately TV, click here.

Client 2 admitted that she eats one english muffin with peanut butter and jelly for breakfast while frantically doing the morning mom dance of getting herself and two toddlers dressed and ready and out the door to daycare in the middle of snow storms in February in New York City. (If you’re a mom you likely understand the physical energy required to simply dress one toddler, let alone two, plus yourself, and then schlep them to daycare. I’m tired just thinking about it. If you don’t have kids, imagine trying to get a Lab puppy into a onesie while he actively fights back.) You need a lot of energy for this. More than a low-fat English muffin can provide. 

I understand why both client 1 and 2 believed that the amount of food they were eating was enough for breakfast. (Diet culture – a.k.a. Weight Watchers and SlimFast and MyFitnessPal and Shape magazine – has led us to believe that we need an absurdly tiny amount of food. When we’re still hungry after ingesting said amount of food, we think there is something wrong with us. There is not. The amount of food we think we should be satisfied with is an amount of food that drove healthy, adult men into madness and dreams of cannibalism in a study in Minnesota around World War 2.) From my perspective as an anti-diet intuitive eating coach, I would call what they’re eating for breakfast a small snack and/or a toddler lunch. Sometimes even my toddler needs more. 

why do i never feel full

Reason 2. You are not enjoying your food or eating what you really want to eat. 

Here’s the thing: seeking satisfaction through eating, seeing it through that lens, making true, full, exquisite, hit-the-spot, satisfaction the focus when eating … leads to actually being satisfied with food. So if you’re asking yourself “why do I never feel full?” Perhaps you should be asking “when’s the last time I felt satisfied” instead.

F*ck all the diet rules. What do you WANT to eat, goddamnit? I know you don’t actually want grilled salmon with brown rice and steamed spinach every night. I know you don’t actually want to eat a sandwich between two bell peppers or wrapped up in butter lettuce. What do you WANT TO EAT, woman? 

When you shift your focus from trying to control your hunger and restrict your food choices to squeezing as much joy, pleasure and satisfaction as you can from eating, you’re going to feel way more satisfied and you’ll also notice you probably wind up eating healthier overall. (This is what the research around HAES and Intuitive Eating tells us, btw.)

Reason 3. You are not paying attention when you eat.  

Another common reason, especially when combined with the reasons above, is that you’re just not focused on enjoying your meal when you eat. 

Picture these two scenarios: 

  1. You eat leftover Chinese food, cold, out of the takeout container, standing up in the kitchen while checking email on your laptop on the kitchen counter. 
  2. You eat leftover Chinese food, warmed up, served on a nice place, with a beverage, sitting down at the island or table, with some nice music playing in the background, relaxed and calm. 

Which situation do you think will lead you to be more satisfied?

Which situation do you think you’ll eat a comfortable amount according to your body’s cues so that you’re not overstuffed (which also contributes to a positive, satisfying eating experience.) 

This is where the full sensory event that eating is supposed to be becomes important to note. 

Food is not just the sum of its parts. And when you’re trying to heal, it’s useful to look at food through the lens of an eating experience. Eating the exact same foods in different ways and in environments results in very different levels of satisfaction. We need to be satisfied with the amount of food and the enjoyment of food if we’re ever going to truly feel satisfied overall.

why do i never feel full

So there you have it, if you’re perpetually grazing and snacking and always on the hunt for “a little something” after meals, you are likely not eating enough, not eating what you actually want or not paying attention while eating – or some combination of the three.  

Once you start doing those things, you’re going to feel way more satisfied regularly. You’re going to stop wondering “why do I never feel full?” You’re going to stop grazing all day like an animal on the plain. You’re going to stop thinking about food so much. And you’re going to realize that you could have trusted yourself this whole time because you’ve never actually been out of control. You just weren’t ever finding satisfaction in eating.

The cure for hunger is to eat what you want and pay attention. 

We go deeper on this week’s pod lesson if you’re interested. Click here to tune in.

And if you want to get to the bottom of your own perpetual lack of satisfaction around food, click here to book a session.

We’ll uncover what’s not working for you right now in terms of food and your body, what you’re missing in order to fix it and a step-by-step plan to finally make peace with both. 

Click here to book your free Breakthrough Session now. 

why do i never feel full

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