I just read this blog post over at 360 Degrees of Mindful Living about fullness. From the blog:
First, the sensation of hunger goes away. This is a moment ofhunger relief. This happens almost too fast for us to have time to enjoy a meal. If you stop eating at this point, then you no longer feel the painful emptiness of hunger, but you also do not yet feel full.
If you keep on eating, you will next experience a moment of pleasant fullnessas the food distends the lining of your stomach, but not so much as to cause pain.
If you keep on eating, you will eventually experience amoment of unpleasant fullnessas the stomach distends to a painful degree.
I wish feeling satiety and fullness like this was so easy. For many of us with eating disorders or are in recovery, we have a hard enough time establishing, distinguishing, "being in touch" with our hunger cues. For so long, we have ignored them that when they arise, they feel foreign and uncomfortable (what my body needs food now?). After awhile of continually neglecting these signals, our body stops producing them. And then there is just silence. Ahh, sometimes, I admit, I kind of miss those days where I did not have to make such decisions and efforts about food, or my body telling me it actually needed something to live on. But the aftermath is not so pretty as we all know.
And so when we eventually head toward recovery, one goal is to relearn these hunger and satiety cues (aka intuitive eating). For me, it's really been more about mechanical eating--it's a certain time of day, I need to eat something, etc. This isn't to say that I completely ignore intuitive eating, but just that the mechanical technique for me has been easier right now. I find if I am hungry, and my stomach roars, and I don't eat right away, well, it will either go away completely, leading me to forget it or something like what occurred on Friday will happen.
My schedule was different, and I didn't plan it out well. I had a hunger attack and nothing to eat at the time (was at a client's house). Since I was two hours off of my scheduled time, my stomach felt horribly awful-distended and bloated which half the time makes me not want to eat. But since I knew this was probably from not having eaten in several hours, I found something to eat at home while letting the dogs out which my stomach did seem to thank me for. (If it could smile, it would)
Besides the hunger cue thing, we have to tackle fullness as well. The post above distinguishes from pleasant fullness and unpleasant fullness. In the early stages of recovery, for many of us, there is an unpleasant feeling of fullness, not only physically but emotionally as well. It takes a lot of time to reach a feeling of pleasant fullness where our bodies realize it can rely on food substances and our minds can feel at peace with it and maybe even content too.
The post offers some good suggestions for pleasant fullness and unpleasant fullness words. It might be something good to do as an exercise or in explaining to someone how you may feel after such a meal.
Note--*There's been some research on the poor or lack of interoceptive awareness (ability of an individual to discriminate between sensations and feelings) here, here ,here, and here among those with eating disorders.