#016: Why do I need to reach “stuffed”?

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Make sense of the desire to feel really full so you can begin to ease back from it

Is it hard to stop eating until you’re so full you can hardly move?

I was for me, and I had no idea why I kept doing it to myself.

This episode is all about making sense of the need or desire to feel stuffed with food which, in turn, will begin to allow you to shift the balance and ease back from that level of fullness.

You’ll learn the exact steps to:

  1. increase awareness the feeling of being really full
  2. open to understanding the desire to get to full or stuffed
  3. acknowledge why wanting to feel so full makes sense
  4. access compassionate, focused support to help ease back from needing to  get so full

Feeling out of control with food? Click here for your FREE Guide: 8 Simple Strategies to Break the Binge Eating Cycle

View the full episode transcript

Welcome to the YoYo Freedom Podcast.

This is the place to learn actionable, step-by-step tools and strategies to help you stop bingeing or overeating and start feeling relaxed and confident around food, 

so that you can show up for your life on your terms.

I’m Gemma Keys and I know first hand what it’s like to feel out-of-control around food and trapped in the pain of binge eating and body-shame.

There is a way out. 

Keep listening to discover your path to food freedom.

Hello and welcome. It’s wonderful to have you here.

Following on from an exploration of hunger in episode 14—how to begin to experience it and how to begin to use it as a guide rather than something to be avoided at all costs, in today’s episode we’re going to move onto feeling full or even absolutely stuffed.

So often, when eating is throwing up problems, our focus is very much on the food, the eating, and the consequences that feel terrible—like weight gain, feeling terrible, spending too much money & all that self-judgement (I’m disgusting, I’m out of control, I’m useless, no one can know)

While all that’s going on, we forget to look at why it might make sense to want to feel full.

So today we’re going to look at getting full to bursting from a slightly different perspective … take a new perspective to consider what might make sense about it—the need, the desire to feel so full—because, with that perspective, you can actually begin to shift the balance & ease back a little from needing to reach that level of fullness.

These are the steps we’re going to go though:

  1. First, how to grow in awareness of that feeling of fullness, without only focusing on the “bad” or the negative
  2. Secondly, opening to understanding of why you want to get to really full or stuffed
  3. Third, the benefits of acknowledging and validating how the fullness makes sense
  4. And lastly, how to access compassionate, focused support to begin to ease back from needing to reach that place of feeling so full

So I’m going to begin by asking you to create a picture in your mind.

As you create this picture, simply observe. Allow any judgement or criticism to be suspended for a few minutes so you can open to watching from a place of curiosity and openness—perhaps intrigue.

As you watch, imagine the tenderness you might show a dear friend, a family member you’re really close to, or a beloved pet

Access that tenderness—that support and love, no matter what the challenge—and use the same words and thoughts and feelings and interpretations.

So, to begin, picture yourself after a binge or a time you’ve felt out of control around food and eaten in a way you wish you hadn’t—at that point where the eating stops, & there’s a feeling of being really full, or stuffed with food.

Are you there, watching the scene? Move slightly back so that you become the observer of yourself. By doing that, you’re creating a little crack of distance which is much more likely to allow you to open to a different type of understanding—a new perspective. 

As you create that picture of yourself and observe what’s happening, give the fullness a rating on a scale of 1–10. Well use the same scale I introduced in episode 14: about how to use hunger as a guide. As a reminder, that scale covered fullness too, and it’s a really helpful tool to simply notice and create data around your physical experience. 

  • +1 represents the first hint of satisfaction, 
  • 2 is the first clear sign of being satiated. 
  • 5 is where the fullness is distracting, maybe needing to loosening the waist band, or fatigue or lack of concentration. 
  • And 10 is where you’re taken down by the extent of the fullness—where you can’t do anything much and maybe you’re even asleep. 
  • The remaining numbers slot into that scale.

In the picture you’ve just formed, and from your position as an observer, what number would you give the physical experience of fullness after a binge or an overeating session?

Again, this is simply a place to notice.

And then extend that noticing to a more detailed look at the sensations in the body? Is there any discomfort — perhaps bloating, gas, reflux or a headache? Or, as you watch, do you notice there’s a bit of numbness, as if very little is being felt at all? How would the person you’re watching—that version of you—describe it?

And what’s going on in their mind? What are they telling themselves about what they’ve just eaten and how they’re feeling? Are they beating themselves up or is their mind quiet, as if the food has quietened the whirring thoughts?

How are their emotions? Are they feeling anything intensely, like shame or disgust or hopelessness? Or are they zoned out—all their emotions flatlined so they’re not feeling much at all? Maybe they’re no longer feeling the stress or loneliness or boredom or dejection they were feeling before.

Keep picturing that version of yourself when you’re feeling really full. How would the person in that picture describe what’s going on for them? Their body, their self-talk, their emotions. Maybe their energy too, the state they were in and the state they’re in now.

For me, my body felt like a huge lump lying on the sofa—kind’ve like a sandbag. It felt heavy in a comforting way, filled up and relaxed — virtually asleep. It was as if nothing could be expected of me because I had no energy or ability to move much. 

My mind was a mixture of relief at being able to zone out & drown out my thoughts, and also full of shame and disgust and despair that what I’d just done wasn’t going to take me anywhere closer to living a life I wanted. I told myself I was a failure and a waste of space—that I couldn’t even make it with the advantages I already had. And then I beat myself up more for being so self-indulgent. 

And my emotions, yes, disgust and despair and embarrassment — as well as hiding all the evidence of what I’d done, I wanted to hide away from the world. An underlying itch and niggle of feeling out of place was overridden by much stronger emotions — they didn’t feel good, but at least I could attribute them to the specific action of bingeing, rather than a sense of dis – ease that I could never quite put my finger on.

Now, none of that has to be reasoned with or argued with or interrogated. This process is simply about uncovering it, seeing or hearing about it — about increasing awareness.

Where did the feeling of fullness take you? What did you get away from and what did you move toward?

Moving to this place of awareness, allows more understanding and insight to unfold. 

As well as the downsides of feeling really stuffed with food, note any benefits or upsides—-in other words, how the fullness is helping (or trying to help) in some way. And that allows it to start making sense.

In the example I gave of myself, I noticed how a feeling of extreme fullness offered me relaxation and comfort and a reason to rest. It allowed me to zone out of a constant and uncomfortable analysis of my life, the value of it and whether I was making the most of it. And it helped me move away from feeling as if I didn’t fit or there was something wrong with me by giving my brain a reason—a problem—-that I could attribute my unease to. The bingeing created a problem and a reason for feeling bad about myself, so I could focus on what I ate rather than who I was as a person. 

Once I understood that, it really made sense why I was eating so much to reach that state of fullness. And that validation in itself allowed me to relax just a touch, and begin to open to different ways of feeling just a little better.

So, I wonder, what do you notice when you’re feeling really full—or even stuffed—that makes sense to you? That, rather than being an outright rejection of there being any benefit at all in feeling like that, instead gets that little eyebrow-raise of enquiry or interest.

Some more examples of reasons for reaching the point of feeling stuffed can include:

  • Not wanting to waste food or the money spent on food, which I talked about in the last episode, episode 15.
  • To find relief from a feeling of deprivation, either from the restriction of being on a diet, or from the rules around good or bad foods that’ve been gathered over the years. You know the ones, right? Low fat diets keep you healthy—stock up on rice cakes and fat-free yoghurt. Oh no, the more cheese and nuts and bacon the better, it’s carbs that cause all the problems. Or even the simple good-or-bad food rules. Banana, good or bad? Potato, good or bad, ice-cream …. Well bad BAD BAD! 
  • Or feeling stuffed can finally stop the cravings for a bit, so you needn’t continue to battle against them.
  • Eating to stuffed can also take away to need for decision making around what you’re going to eat—there’s no internal debate or rationalising, no having to decide on what or whether to eat. Give yourself a break for once, just eat.
  • Of food can attempt to fill an emotional hole, an empty space inside where it feels as though something’s missing. Filling up with food can be a subconscious effort to feel love, comfort, connection & contentment. And who doesn’t want to feel those things? 
  • Another thing fullness can do, whether it’s conscious or unconscious, is create safety. Something’s come up — maybe an old feeling of suspicion, or a memory of being humiliated, or some kind of diet trauma, or a schedule that has no room for autonomy and self-expression. When something like that comes up, or even a hint of an old feeling or experience, it can be as if the food swoops in like superman to save you from having to face it again. It says, “oh no, you’re not going back there,” even if you’re not consciously aware of that being the case at the time. 
  • And feeling stuffed can change the energetic state of the body. It can lower nervous energy or tension, as if it’s quieting a constant pinball machine of anxiety that rarely quietens down on its own. In other words, it can be a way to regulate the nervous system, to create a sense of equilibrium.

I’m guessing some of those might resonate. Just notice what draws your attention & interest.

Keep asking, what might a feeling of fullness have to offer me? How might it make sense?

As you ask what fullness might have to offer you, how it might make sense, remember what we touched on at the beginning of this episode—drawing on the support and understanding and validation you’d offer a dear friend or loved one. 

As you notice what’s happening for you, what might you think or say or do if that person you love was going through a similar experience or challenge? 

Maybe you’d offer them reassurance, kind words, a reminder that you love them no matter what—that they’re important and they matter, that they haven’t given up as they’re still looking for answers. Perhaps you’d ask them what they need, how you can be there for them in a way they need. 

Try saying or doing those things but direct them toward yourself. 

As you treat yourself with tenderness & compassion, do you notice a shift away from self-criticism and judgement toward support and connection? Whatever comes up for you, continue to pay attention. If it feels good, if it nurtures and encourages you to love and believe in yourself no matter what the circumstances you’re in, repeat it more often!

And the final area we’re going to address here is, What Next?

We’ve moved through the steps of:

  • increasing awareness and noticing how fullness feels, to 
  • opening to understanding any upside to feeling stuffed that might be there, to 
  • acknowledging how the fullness makes sense—to validating why it’s  happening. 

And to talking to yourself and treating yourself with compassion, tenderness and support

A key question to ask next is the very simple, 

“What do you need?” 

“What do you need, sweetheart?”

“I’m here for you. How can I help?”

It’s amazing the insight that question can bring up if there’s a little time and space to mull it over. It might be kind words or a small, supportive next step. 

Sometimes, simply having heard and acknowledged the reasons for reaching a state of being really full or stuffed with food can be enough to create more of a sense of relaxation and calm inside. But often there’s another little supportive thought or action that can be really helpful and also used again and again.

Here are some examples of what that small step thought or actions might look like based on some of the scenarios we’ve already discussed.

  • Offering a reassurance to your body of, “I promise I’m never going to diet to extremes again. When you need food, I will eat. I will not ignore you.”

Or you might repeat sentences and commit to actions like:

  • “I see you reach for food when you need rest. I’m gonna look for ways to create the opportunity for rest, even just 10 minutes in the day,” or
  • “I’m unique and loved. I’m going to continue to find what feels right for me.”

There may be places to create the chance of connection. Even a cuppa a local coffee shop or a visit to the chemist or newsagent  can create regular, affirming moments of exchanging a few words and a smile, to be recognised. 

Or putting into words what you’ve noticed. “I see that I want to eat because I feel agitated and unnerved. For now, I’m just going to look around me and remind myself I’m safe in this moment and see what happens next.”

In that situation—the pinball machine of anxious or tense energy—a breathing technique can really help settle your nervous system. The 3-4-5 technique is super-easy to remember and just means breathing in for a count of 3, holding for 4, and breathing out for 5 (or longer). Another way to ground your nervous system is get outside and to see something natural – the sky, a tree or flower – or to stroke a pet.

So those might be options to experiment with to feel a little more settled.

Or maybe the next small step is to carry a snack in your bag so you have something ready and don’t need to decide what to eat because it’s already there. A way to calm the chatter in your brain or any worry about not having enough to eat.

And keep watching and noticing. How does the fullness make sense? What feels like compassion and understanding rather than judgement? What might a tiny step toward support look like?

As you try new things, maybe you see a shift from reaching an +8 on the fullness scale to reaching a +7. Keep noticing. Keep validating your real, lived experience.

The more you repeat this process, the more you’ll move to what you really want and need.

So, to wrap up, reaching a place of being really physically full—stuffed even—can have a purpose of its own.

It’s by opening to what that purpose might be, from a place of zero judgement and as an observer, that you can begin to uncover what you’re really looking for …

I invite you to practice these 4 steps yourself, 

  1. Notice what you’re gaining from that fullness
  2. Open to understanding why it’s happening
  3. If it makes sense to you, acknowledge that
  4. And continue to treat yourself with compassion, tenderness and kindness

so that you can begin to understand more about what fullness means for you …. So that you can begin to give yourself support in small ways that take you closer to what you really want and need. 

If you’d like more strategies to help you move away from binge eating and feeling out-of-control around food, check out my FREE Guide: 8 Essential Skills to Change Your Eating. You’ll find a link in the show notes for this episode, or go to yoyofreedom.com/16

That’s it for today’s episode. Thank you for listening.

I hope you’ve found this episode helpful. Subscribe to The YoYo Freedom Podcast for more insight, tools and support as you pull back from bingeing, overeating or yoyo-dieting and step into your most authentic, vibrant life.

And, if you liked what you heard, it would be wonderful if you’d take a moment to rate this podcast on whichever platform you listen on.

Thank you so much! And Bye-bye for now.

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Links mentioned in this episode

FREE Guide: 8 Essential Skills to Change Your Eating

Podcast episode 14, How to stop hating hunger & use it as a guide

Podcast episode 15, Can’t bear to waste food? Listen in.

Disclaimer: The content in the podcast and on this webpage is not intended to constitute or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or psychological condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have heard on the podcast or on my website.

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