Full Belly Syndrome

obese bellyFor those of us who lived most of our lives with Full Belly Syndrome, meaning only feeling good if we were stuffed; it is crucial that we don't deceive ourselves into thinking that eating nutrient dense foods alone is going to fix our health problems. We MUST say good-bye to a full belly also! Eating "unlimited" greens, beans, and fresh fruits is not a license to stuff ourselves. Binge eating has been a habit that many of us developed over the years, and we must say good-bye to it. Bury it, and don't ever dig it back up. Ever. Full Belly Syndrome is every bit as destructive as SAD food addiction.

There were times in my obese days that I was stuffed to the gills, yet felt compelled to eat more, even if I was feeling miserable. The additional misery somehow felt good, in a sick sort of way. It felt normal.

I actually didn't feel well unless I was miserably stuffed.

Anyone else know what I'm talking about?

I truly believe that we can so trick our bodies into developing habits that even bad habits start feeling good.  Possibly it’s called addiction?

So the moral of this story is we must retrain our bodies to be content with less food, and over time we'll discover that we no longer need to feel full to feel satisfied.

obese bellies

When we are stuffed, the digestive tract is under stress, and our poor pancreas frantically works overtime to get all that extra glucose out of our blood. On top of that, we store excess fat and the cells become resistant to accepting the glucose; therefore, compounding the traffic jam of too much glucose circulating in our bloodstream. If you think about it, it's a pretty cruel thing to do to ourselves.

So, say good-bye to a stuffed belly if you want to be kind to yourself and live in optimal health!

Your body will thank you.

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Comments (30) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
StephenMarkTurner (formerly Steve) - May 10, 2010 6:22 AM

Hi Emily

Up until the last year or so, I could have eaten a reasonably healthy dinner, then ordered pizza afterwards.

It is addictive behaviour for sure, like drinking too much booze (I always hated the sensation of drinking only a small amount of alcohol, especially after it started wearing off).

After being aware of the problem, one thing that helps me is to plan for a little yoga or other stretchy exercise in the evening. Doing pidgeon or something like that will increase your awareness of a too full stomach, guaranteed!


McBloggenstein - May 10, 2010 8:16 AM

I have definitely recognized this to be a real thing since realizing I did it myself, and it is done by so many people. When you have this syndrome, it really doesn't feel normal unless it feels like there is a brick in your stomach. It's really quite amazing that no matter how uncomfortable I remember that brick making me feel, or seeing how uncomfortable it makes others when they over eat, it never fails that it will happen again and again.

Rebecca - May 10, 2010 8:50 AM

You always hit the nail on the head. This is a miserable way to live. It is also a hard addiction to break. I will. By the Grace of God and the good sense of Eat to Live. Thanks for the reminder and encouragement.

Mary - May 10, 2010 10:03 AM

Thanks, Emily. I know what you are saying in your post is true, but I'm also a little confused.

In Eat to Live, Dr. Fuhrman actually says "the more the better" when it comes to the amount of vegetables we can eat for weight loss. In my experience, I know that striving for the "pound of raw, pound of cooked" goal, plus eating all of the other high-nutrient foods on the 6-week plan, often leaves me pretty stuffed after meal times!

I feel if I didn't eat large quantities of greens and veggies, I wouldn't be getting enough calories or nutrients. I'm only following 6-week plan guidelines. Am I eating too much?

teri - May 10, 2010 10:19 AM

I am guilty..... even after losing so much weight, I still justify the "unlimited".... the last couple weeks I have been trying to do the "dont eat until you have real hungar" and the 12 hour fast between the night meal and morning.... the "being full" is a lifetime struggle and this is a great reminder!

Sighle - May 10, 2010 10:38 AM

WOW! Emily, I am so glad you put a name to this eating behavior! "Full Belly Syndrome" is rampant throughout America, as evidenced by the increasing number of all-you-can-eat buffets!

I, too, suffer from this. I find the best way I can control it is through regular and periodic fasting in addition to following a nutritarian's diet.

Eating more slowly, making my meal last about 30 minutes and stop eating before feeling full have helped me, too.

Mike Crosby - May 10, 2010 10:45 AM

Thanks Emily. Very sound advice.

I am still of the belief that I need to over-stuff myself to be happy.

You put forth a very simple concept, but I believe oh-so wise.

The last few weeks I've been way over eating and have paid the price. Not to sound too radical, but for me, I feel I'm at war with my desires. And if I give in to eating anything I want, and all that I want, it's a quick downhill ride to bad health. So I'm at war, because I want good health. And my body definitely knows what is good health.

Jean Adamson - May 10, 2010 10:54 AM

I wonder if part of the reason we overeat, eat to the point of "stuffedness", is the current emphasis on eating a low fat diet. Fat is probably our greatest provider of the feeling of satiety, feeling satisfied. By not allowing ourselves to eat fat, we continue to feel empty until our stomachs are physically stretched. I think it's worthwhile to try adding some good fats - olive oil, butter, coconut oil - to see if this improves the ability to push away from the table.

Emily Boller - May 10, 2010 11:03 AM


Yes, Dr. Fuhrman teaches to eat lots of veggies (because most Americans think a small bowl of salad is plenty of greens) and he also emphasizes to only eat to the point of feeling satisfied, and not stuffed. In his teleconference titled, "Curtailing Overeating" Dr. Fuhrman explains overeating in-depth. I highly recommend listening to it. One should never be able to feel the belly; if we feel our stomachs distended in any way, then we are overeating.

The "one pound" instruction is a guideline to help the mind think in terms of lots of veggies; but that doesn't mean to get stuffed on them if the stomach has reached the point of satisfaction.

It takes practice, but the stomach can be successfully re-trained to not be continuously over-fed and stuffed.

Many of us have trained our bodies to eat for entertainment, social interaction, to relieve stress, or other non-hunger situations; which are all disease promoting habits and totally unrelated to true hunger.

One should eat enough at a meal to be satisfied, but not so much that one isn't hungry for the next meal in 5 hours or so. Hunger enhances the thorough enjoyment and pleasure of eating nutrient rich foods at the next meal. Plus, we should always go to bed at night on an empty stomach so that our body can de-toxify during sleep. When the stomach is no longer digesting food, it goes into detoxification and healing mode, and we wake up refreshed!

We trained our bellies to be stuffed and bloated, we can re-train them to be satisfied and content.

My rule of thumb: if my belt buckle feels uncomfortable, then I've overeaten.

Freedom from overeating to all!

Emily Boller - May 10, 2010 11:24 AM


Thought for everyone to ponder: How many plus-size clothing stores sell pants/skirts/shorts tailor made for binge eating? Have you ever noticed how "easy" it is to binge eat in elastic waisted, stretch knit clothing? Hmmmm, maybe to curtail overeating, only waisted/belted clothing should be purchased????

A bloated belly stuffed into belted slacks/shorts is misery magnified. Maybe it's time to throw out elastic waisted clothing along with the chips and dip!

Say good bye to the standard American diet.

Say good bye to elastic waisted, stretch pants.

What are your thoughts?

Elijah Lynn - May 10, 2010 11:25 AM

I used to live with full belly syndrome most of my life. I was thin enough and had a high enough metabolism that it didn't matter but constantly distended the belly was not good for me. I now eat "most of the time" until I am about 70-80% full, which is awesome!!!

In addition to that, it makes you hungry for your next meal instead of just eating because "it is time to eat".

Claudia - May 10, 2010 11:43 AM


I think the answer is to eat as much vegetables as you want in order to satisfy your hunger, but not to keep eating to the point where you are physically uncomfortable. The reason that Dr. Fuhrman sets a goal of 2 pounds of vegetables, is because he wants us to think much bigger in terms of how much of our diet should be from vegetables. In other words, we want the volume of vegetables to be much larger than the volume of anything else that we eat. Most americans treat vegetables as a tiny side side dish, while Dr. Fuhrman tells us that 'The Salad is the Main Dish'.

Anyway... Dr. Fuhrman has said that we should not stuff ourselves in order to get in our 2 pounds of vegetables. Many people need to eat that much, but not everyone does, and we shouldn't be force-feeding ourselves.


Greg - May 10, 2010 11:48 AM

I had the same thought as Mary.

Mary - May 10, 2010 12:22 PM

Thank you so much! Going to be paying more attention to "my belly" from now on!

Claudia - May 10, 2010 1:28 PM

Emily, Good advice on the elastic waist clothing.

Furthermore, as a person who is trying to maintain my ideal weight, I am finding that elastic waisted pants are not at all becoming, and I wouldn't want to be caught dead wearing them! I am small enough now that I can wear girl’s clothes, which often do come with an elastic waist however I find they make me either look juvenile or clownish. These days I really like to wear well fitting clothes that look good on me. I prefer petite pants that are nicely styled, with a low waistline, below the belly button. I shudder at the thought of pants I used to wear in my younger days that were hiked up above my waist.

Emily Boller - May 10, 2010 2:03 PM


Without a doubt, we should all be eating health promoting fats with each meal in the form of nuts and seeds: walnuts, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, almonds, raw cashews, ground flax seeds, salad dressings made from nuts and seeds, etc.

Oils, of all kinds, are high-caloric, low nutrient foods, and not beneficial to optimal health; and butter, especially is high in saturated fat and high on the list of disease promoting foods. Stay clear of these fats.

barbara - May 10, 2010 3:12 PM

thanks for your naming the full belly syndrome....which I have suffered from for many years. With Eat to Live and this website, I am beginning to learn facts that I really identify with and use to free myself.

StephenMarkTurner (formerly Steve) - May 10, 2010 5:17 PM

Emily, good thought on the stretchy pants. I am almost always in track pants, I assumed it was because I am at the gym or biking or something almost every day.

I don't have a lot of waistline to lose now (3-4 inches), but I am gonna have to change into something that takes a belt more often!

Thanks, Steve

Ginger - May 10, 2010 7:02 PM

I have to say until I read Eat to Live, I was a thinnish pig. Now I eat lightly and feel wonderful. Thanks for the reminder.

ls - May 11, 2010 12:03 AM

Yikes, at work today someone posted an article about how smoothies, fruit juice and granola are very unhealthy for you and they will leave you hungry and you will gain weight. It also stated that lean protein, such as that found in chicken or egg whites, is a very imporant part of a person's diet. All along I have been thinking eat more fruits and veggies, but now I see this study that was done. Maybe that's why I am hungry all the time when I eat beans, fruit and veggies. I think I may be missing the protein and the B12 found in chicken. I am going to add some lean chicken breast to my salad tonight to see if that will help. I always thought it was interesting that our body needs B12, but the only food product you can get it from is animal product. Therefore, I now realize, I must eat some animal product, it's the way our bodies are wired. We need B12 and you can not get it from veg sources, not true B12.

Claudia - May 11, 2010 10:39 AM

Is: The source of B12 is the dirt, and that is where the animals get it from. Furthermore, a significant proportion of older americans are unable to absorb sufficient B-12 when they obtain it from animal sources. That is why the Food & Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine has recommended that americans over the age of 50 should meet their B-12 requirements by eating foods fortified with synthetic B-12, or by taking a B-12 supplement. It is really the only way to get a reliable source of B-12 if you consider that 1) our vegetation tends to be overly sanitized and free of dirt, and 2) B-12 from animal sources is not necessarily well-absorbed.


Claudia - May 11, 2010 10:50 AM

Is- I would agree that smoothies, fruit juice and granola are not necessarily health foods. Fruit juice is not a whole food like fresh fruit because the fiber has been removed, and granola is usually junk food that is sweetened with all kinds of sugars. Smoothies can also be junk food, depending on what is in them.

You should not, however, conclude from this that eating fruits and vegetables is unhealthy. That would just be silly. It is important to eat lots of fruits and vegetables because they are so protective against cancer and other chronic diseases that so many americans suffer and die from. Meats, on the other hand, contain saturated fat, which is a disease-promoting substance.


Deana Ferreri - May 11, 2010 11:53 AM

To clarify further - vitamin B12 does not come from animal products. Vitamin B12 is produced exclusively by microorganisms, primarily those in soil.

Deana Ferreri - May 11, 2010 2:35 PM

Is and Claudia,
Claudia mentioned that saturated fat is a disease promoting substance. This is true, but it is not only the saturated fat that makes animal products unhealthy - their overall nutritional profile is poor. Animal products contain no fiber or phytochemicals. They are low in micronutrients and high in calories. More calories from animal products means less room in the diet for health-promoting foods like vegetables and beans. Consumption of animal protein is associated with increased risk of diabetes and osteoporosis. Animal protein (whether it is from beef or lean chicken breast)also increases IGF-1 levels which contribute to many cancers (http://www.diseaseproof.com/archives/prostate-cancer-milk-and-meat-up-prostate-cancerrisk.html).

Claudia - May 11, 2010 3:01 PM


Thankyou for providing such clear, concise, and thorough explanations, and for your excellent clarification of my point. I will try to remember to say 'soil' instead of 'dirt'!

In any case, I think that we are lucky to have you here, to assist Dr. Fuhrman in providing clear guidance to us all!


Suzanne - May 11, 2010 4:32 PM

Hi Emily.

I think you raise an interesting, and important point about clothing with elastic waistlines; however, now that I've been following this plan, and losing weight as quickly as I have been (40 lbs so far), they are the only articles of clothing that don't fall off of me these days. I am now actually using the drawstrings on my elastic drawstring pants! I think, as you rightly pointed out, they are usually useful for weight transitions in the opposite direction, as people gain weight, but they have been useful for me too these days. I am glad that I had a few in my wardrobe, as they have become my current staples. They look a little like MC Hammer pants, but they stay on.

People have been telling me that it's time to go out and buy new clothes already - but I'm still losing weight, and I want to wait a little longer so I don't have to turn around and buy all new clothes again in a few months. I'm also thinking about going the thrift store route for transitional clothes. If I lose a little more weight, I can buy non-plus sized clothes too, and I'm really looking forward to being able to do that!!!

Emily Boller - May 11, 2010 6:12 PM


Congratulations on the weight loss! Keep up the great job!

Yeah for thrift shops to purchase those transitional clothes. In my city, we have 50% off sale once/month and that's how I made it through the continual changes of sizes. Freedom is a great feeling. Smile.

Freedom to all!


Sara - May 11, 2010 8:54 PM

Hi Suzanne- Why don't you buy a few pants at a consignment shop or garage sale. Then you won't feel bad about recycling them in a couple of months. That's what I did.

Deana Ferreri - May 13, 2010 9:47 AM

Claudia, thanks for the nice compliment!

adam - November 8, 2010 2:02 PM

wait i'm confused . . . . how do you rectify the problem? am i missing something or is it like a cliff-hanger...

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