What to do when you end up uncomfortably full.

A couple weeks ago I ended the day very overwhelmed. That night we had dinner followed immediately by dessert, which many times leaves me feeling content and satisfied, but this night had me feeling uncomfortably full*.

Now, I don’t think every time you end up overly full you need to analyze or pathologize the situation. After all, overeating can be a side effect of joy and celebration, as discussed in this post on overeating. What was different about this situation was I was already feeling like crap and how I took care of myself made me feel more uncomfortable. So, here’s what to do when you end up uncomfortably full, not due to joy and celebration, but due to trying to care for yourself and it not going as planned.

First, the thing about being uncomfortably full is that it goes away without you having to do anything to make it go away. Your job is simply to take note of when you thought something would help you be well, but it didn’t. Being able to have the awareness that doing x didn’t help you feel better and moving forward with that information so you can decide if you’d like to care for yourself differently next time can be helpful. I remember times when I was working to improve my relationship with movement when I’d be moving my body and in the middle of the movement session be like, “this isn’t what I need. What am I doing? I got this one wrong.” so I’d stop and go rest or do what needed to be done. The idea that you will always take care of your body perfectly and will never end up uncomfortable or make the wrong choice would require you to be a super human, which isn’t something any of us are capable of. We will all end up uncomfortably full from time to time.

Secondly, replacing your inner critic or shame spiral that may sound something like “you messed up again. UGH! Come on. You have to get on track again tomorrow” with a more curious and flexible mindset of, “hmm. I thought that was going to help me feel better but it didn’t. What would I rather do next time I feel that way?”, may be useful. When having a hard time being kind to oneself, past clients have mentioned looking down at their body and saying, “Hey!! Same team!”, to remind themselves to move forward with encouragement to help your body function best, rather than shame to tear you down.

The problem with hitting yourself with a wave of shame is that it isn’t typically motivating. I’m for trading shame for something that actually allows you to heal and move forward. If your approach to health isn’t motivating…that’s not a good approach to health.

This brings me to…your approach to health. A weight centric approach to health (aka my health is determined by the number on the scale type of approach) can lead to fear of becoming fat, since under that belief system if you are fat you are unhealthy. Being fearful of ending up with more fat on your body can turn overeating into something it’s not. It can turn overeating from a thing that occasionally happens to every single person from time to time to an unacceptable mistake loaded with baggage and fear. The food we eat is just a component of our health…not the entirety of it. A more healthful and life-giving approach to health that I myself prescribe to is a healthy behavior centric approach that encourages a prioritizing of health promoting behaviors instead weight.

One thing I hope this blog has done and continues to do for you is perpetuate the concept of an evolving and changing body is what health and beauty are, rather than perpetuate the concept of achieving the “ideal” body is what health and beauty are. Health promoting behaviors bring health regardless of the body size you end up.

So, if you find yourself overly full when sorting through what your body needs in the midst of a lot of loud emotions going on:

  1. learn what you’re able to (hmm. I thought x would bring me satisfaction but I feel terrible right now.)
  2. make a plan for next time (next time if I’m unsure if dessert would make me uncomfortably full I’d like to try to watch a show before having dessert)
  3. offer yourself kindness in the face of the fullness (I can’t see into the future. I’m not always going to know how food is going to make me feel. Finding a pleasant level of fullness + satisfaction while intuitive eating is like playing darts…sometimes I land right on the bullseye, hitting optimal fullness + satisfaction, but other times I end up overly full or under satisfied and that is just part of the process).

*If you are in eating disorder recovery, many feel full until their gastroparesis subsides. This takes a few months of you feeling full constantly, which is uncomfortable, but the only way out is through. Clients have shared that even just one skipped snack can increase their feelings of fullness pretty drastically. In this situation, eating enough and eating consistently throughout the day *typically* will lead to your GI system beginning to process food at a proper speed and the feelings of intense fullness will subside. For you, you aren’t doing anything wrong if you are feeling full constantly. It is just part of the recovery process.


  1. Great post! Thank you!

  2. Do you have some more information on gastroparesis and eating disorder recovery? I didn’t have an eating disorder, but I did have disordered eating habits. I have gastroparesis, and I’d love to read and learn more about it.

  3. Ditto!  Great post Kylie!!!

  4. This post is so practical! I remember struggling a lot trying not to shame myself for overeating. Something tangible that helped me was trying to remove overtly negative language like “yuck, I feel full” and change it to just “I feel full” or even “I feel nauseated.” To me and my values, I don’t think “full” is a bad thing, but nausea feels uncomfortable. In order to stop associating fullness with negative feelings, I started telling myself that the discomfort was nausea.

    Eating disorder recovery is such a mind game!

  5. This is a tough one for me. I hate feeling full even if it is water that I drank after being in this Texas heat. I can feel extremely guilty after feeling full and after suffering from an eating disorder for 17 years, it comes as second nature. It really takes a lot of self-convincing to accept it as is and not act upon disordered behaviors to tune out the ED voice. It’s just so exhausting and I just want it to get a little easier. Thanks for posting this!

  6. There is so much guilt, especially for women, associated with over-eating. I believe we are not put on this earth just to try and shrink ourselves to an acceptable body size. And yet, I feel terrible when I overeat or feel too full and virtuous when I’m hungry. It’s something that doesn’t appear to disappear when we age either – I remember my grandmother when she was in her 90s being concerned about over-eating. .

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