Merriam-Webster's dictionary defines satiety as the quality or state of being fed (Satiety, n.d.). An important aspect of eating behavior includes both our hunger and satiety cues (van de Veer, van Herpen, & van Trijp, 2014). Our body’s physiological signals are there to tell us when it is time to eat and when it is time to stop eating. Try to think about how you might feel when you start to feel full. Maybe your waistband starts feeling a little tight, what you are eating does not taste nearly as good as when you took those first few bites, you may feel bloated, or perhaps a little nauseas (Camelleri, 2014). Within the last few years, the concept of gut-brain communication has been identified. Many hormones and neurotransmitters come into play in gut-brain communication, with a major neurotransmitter being serotonin. Serotonin is found in the brain and the digestive system; it plays a large role in peripheral satiety signals by working with the hormones cholecystokinin and leptin (Voigt & Fink, 2014) which together alerts your brain that you are full.
Many people have been conditioned to rely on external cues for satiety, for example finishing everything on their plate, food advertising, or constant exposure to food in the environment. As infants and young children we are very in tune with our body’s internal hunger and satiety cues. According to a study about infant hunger, it is important to preserve internal cues early in life so that as we age our food intake is determined based on internal rather than external signals (Shloium, Shafiq, Blundell-Birtill, & Hetherington, 2018). Even if we have been conditioned to rely on external cues, it is not too late. Simply by being aware of the physical signs we feel when we over-eat and taking note of these signs, we are more likely to recognize these cues again and thus be more in-tune with our body’s needs. It is also important to note that it can take about 20 minutes for individuals to begin feeling full. By slowing down when you are eating, taking a break, and checking-in with your body you can assess whether or not you are still hungry.
Holiday gatherings and parties tend to be very food focused, but by listening to your body and taking some of the focus off of food, everyone can enjoy themselves and enjoy time with friends and family without overindulging. Over the years I have come up with a few tips that still allow me to enjoy what I want without over doing it:
- If you are hosting, encourage guests to bring containers to take home leftovers. This way you are not left with too much food and your guest won’t feel pressured to over-eat.
- Set-up board games, cards, Twister™, and/or video games. This encourages guests to participate in other activities and takes the focus off of food.
- If the weather is nice, plan a walk, a hike, or an outdoor game. This is a great way to get exercise and take the spotlight off food.
- If you are a guest at a party, make sure you have containers in your car incase the host/hostess encourages taking leftovers home. You can also wrap food in tinfoil if you do not have a container.
- Grab a small plate or a napkin so you take less food. It is okay to go back for seconds if you are still hungry.
- Do not show up to a party hungry; you are more likely to over-eat when you arrive. Have a small snack beforehand.
Genuine Health. (2017). Gut Brain Connection [infographic]. Retrieved from https://www.genuinehealth.com/en-ca/genuine-hub/gut-brain-connection/
Satiety. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster’s online dictionary. Retrieved from https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/satiety
Shloim, N., Shafiq, I., Blundell-Birtill, P., and Hetherington, M.M. (June 4, 2018). Infant hunger and satiety cues during the first two years of life: developmental changes of within meal signalling. Appetite, 128, 303-310. doi: doi.org/10.1016/j.appet.2018.05.144
van de Veer, E., van Herpen, E., and van Trijp, H.C.M. (October 22, 2014). How do I look? Focusing attention on the outside body reduces responsiveness to internal signals in food intake. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 56, 207-213. doi: doi.org/10.1016/j.jesp.2014.10.003
Voigt, J. and Fink, H. (September 16, 2014). Serotonin controlling feeding and satiety. Behavioural Brain Research, 277, 14-31. doi: doi.org/10.1016/j.bbr.2014.08.065