Why do I keep eating when I am full?

Reading Time: 2 minutes
On June 2, 2020
Eating when I am full


Why do I keep eating when I am full?

Reading Time: 2 minutes
On June 2, 2020
Eating when I am full

Eating when you’re full? – Your mouth is not a dustbin

Picture this:

You’re out for Sunday dinner with friends. You’ve just finished your meal and are feeling quite full but there’s a shared bowl of buttery potatoes in the middle of the table with just a few left. No one’s quite got room to finish them but you really don’t want them to go to waste…. what do you do?

Another scenario:

You’ve been enjoying your dinner but are starting to feel full. You’ve got more on your plate than you need. You could stop eating now – you know that would be best for your physical comfort – but you always like to clear your plate… what do you do? 

It’s a dilemma many of us face.

 There is a part of us that recognises we are full and really don’t need any more food. But there is another part urging us on to finish whatever food is left.

If you listen carefully, you might detect a voice inside, near or distant, clear or fuzzy, a remnant from childhood, saying something like:

“Haven’t you done well for eating all your food!”


“Come on, eat up! Don’t let it go to waste. I want to see a clean plate.”


“You won’t get dessert, if you don’t finish your dinner.”


“You’re ungrateful for leaving it…it’s terrible to waste food.”


“You’ve got such a good appetite; I’m so pleased you always clear your plate.”

Whatever phrase you find yourself replaying – whether you hear it clearly or it’s something fuzzy in the background – its message will be clear: You must clear your plate because it’s bad to waste food.

Really? Let’s examine this belief…

Many of us, from a young age, are taught to eat up all our food whether we are hungry or not. This is often a learning that has been passed down from generation to generation – perhaps originating from a time when food was scarce – but now has no factual reason.

So we can ask ourselves

  • If there is more food than we need,
  • If clearing our plate means we will feel over-full,
  • If regularly eating more that we need means we will be increasing in size or not be the size we want to be…
    … is using our stomach as a receptacle in which to dispose of unneeded food, really the best choice? Do we really want to use our stomach as a waste bin?

So the next time you feel an urge to clear your plate (or someone else’s!) you can squarely tell that urge:

Your mouth is not a dustbin

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