Woman enjoying a slice of pizza; Discover the satisfaction in food.
At a restaurant, do you ever scan the menu and order a salad, but really fancy the pasta? Do you ever finish eating a food, even if it doesn't taste that great without giving it a second thought? Do you ever eat a dessert even if you’re not hungry? If you can relate to any of these statements, you may be missing out on the hub of Intuitive Eating - the satisfaction and pleasure of food.
Discover the Satisfaction Factor is Ged’s favourite principle. It really had a big impact on her and her food choices. But food satisfaction and pleasure can be a scary concept to many dieters. Diet plans often mean that you must cut out foods that you enjoy, foods that bring you pleasure. If you deny yourself pleasure from foods, you might eat until you feel full, but you’ll be left feeling unsatisfied and thinking even more about food. Or you may even eat past comfortably full trying to fill that satisfaction void; when if you had just eaten what you really wanted, you would have probably been satisfied with a moderate portion, and no lingering obsessive food thoughts. Just ask yourself, how often have your food restrictions worked? How often have you bought the sugar-free ice cream, but was left unsatisfied with the taste and you still wanted the real thing? Or what about eating rice cakes and celery sticks as a snack, when you just fancied a cheese muffin.
Dieting not only robs you of food pleasure, it can also cause a fear of food cravings and guilt about eating “bad” or “unhealthy” foods. This leads to more disconnect between your mind and body. Moreover, you may feel like you don’t trust yourself around foods that would be pleasurable. If you are stuck in the diet mentality you will likely not choose satisfying foods; or when you do choose what you really want to eat, you will criticise yourself for indulgence.
If you would like to start to experience the Satisfaction Factor, you can follow these simple steps to get you started.
Ask Yourself What You Really Want to Eat: This is very challenging if you’re used following food rules or meal plans and denying yourself what you want. Dieting is often about what you can’t have, so figuring out what you really want to eat can feel daunting. If you’re not sure where to start with this step, you could start to notice when you eat, what foods do you like? What foods don’t you like? What happens when you eat the foods you like? And what happens when you eat foods you didn’t really want but thought you “should”? Become your own detective and stay curious about whether you want what you’re eating or not.
Discover the Pleasure of The Plate: This step invites you to experiment with all the different sensory experiences you can enjoy with food
When you eat or are thinking of eating soon, you can ask yourself the following questions:
· What taste do I feel like (sweet, salty, sour, bitter)?
· What texture of food do I feel like (crunchy, soft, chunky, chewy)?
· What smells good to you? What looks good to you (colours, or designs)?
· What temperature do you feel like (hot, cold, neutral)?
· Do you feel like something lighter or heartier?
Please remember, there are no right or wrong answers to these questions. The answers will be individual to you and can change meal to meal and day to day. The more you can tune-into what you actually want to eat and tune into your hunger and fullness cues, the better you’ll get at gauging portion sizes and how much you need to eat to feel satisfied and content.
Savour your food and love every mouthful: Creating a relaxing and enjoyable environment when eating can help increase the satisfaction factor. If you’re under stress, you won’t digest your food well or derive any pleasure from eating it. Here are some suggestions on how to slow down your eating experience and savour your food:
· Set aside time to eat, try for at least 15 minutes if you can.
· Sit down at a table instead of at your desk or standing up, driving, or moving around.
· Take a few deep breaths before eating to help you unwind.
· Try to eat in a calm, relaxed state.
· Chew your food enough so that it goes down easier.
· Notice the taste of the food when it’s in your mouth. And check in with yourself if you’re enjoying it or not.
· Eat when you’re moderately hungry, not ravenous or already full. You’ll get the most satisfaction then.
Keep a variety of foods you like in your home. Buy veggies you like as well as ice cream you like. If you like chicken but prefer thighs to breasts, then get the thighs. If you prefer butter to margarine, get butter. Often, just swapping out “diet” foods for the ones you’d prefer is a first step in getting more satisfaction with eating. This goes against the idea of “out of sight, out of mind”; but actually by keeping foods you know you like around in the house, you’re creating trust within yourself that you can have these foods whenever you’d like. You are habituating yourself to these foods and taking the first steps to food freedom. This step can be challenging to achieve, so take the baby steps you need to have these foods in your home first.
And please, don’t Settle for second best: If that muffin from the cafe you were excited to eat it is not as good as you had anticipated, then don’t feel you have to finish it off. Just leave it or throw it away if you don’t want it anymore.
And check in when you are eating: When you’re eating a food you really like, check-in halfway and ask yourself, does this still taste good to me? Do I want more? Am I satisfied? The first few bites of cake are usually more enjoyable and tastier than the last few bites. This doesn’t mean you have to throw away the cake. It’s just an exercise in becoming more aware of how much and when do you enjoy your food.
Remember, when practicing all this in conjunction with the other principles you have learnt so far, there are no “always” or “never”. It might not always be practical to eat foods you enjoy all the time. It’s not realistic that you’re just going to go out and buy the ingredients of whatever food you’re wanting in that moment. Sometimes we eat leftovers or grab a protein bar on the go. Not everything we eat will bring total satisfaction. Not every time you eat, will you eat mindfully. That’s just how life is. Just observe, consider, learn from it and move on.
Tribole, E. & Resch, E. (2012) Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press