Hey, friends! As I continue to recover from my concussion, my intern Dana is popping on the blog to share a post about how to experience more food satisfaction. Satisfaction is such an important piece of intuitive eating and something that often goes by the wayside with dieting.
Somewhere along the way, food gained a reputation as being primarily fuel. And while we certainly need all kinds of food to give us energy and keep us feeling our best, food is far from being simply fuel. Food connects us to our cultures and our families. Food helps us celebrate life’s big occasions. Food is delicious, pleasurable and satisfying…or at least it should be.
If you listen to popular opinion (aka diet culture) you’d likely think the only foods that are acceptable to fill your plate with are ones that are beneficial to your physical health. Ones that provide certain amounts of protein or have less than a certain number of calories. Often times with this type of thinking enjoyment becomes the last criteria used to determine if we’ll consume a meal or snack.
Satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) plays a large role in our relationship with food. In fact, eating foods we find to be enjoyable allows us to experience freedom at mealtime as well as to explore new types of food. Not long ago, I chose meals or snacks simply based on what I viewed to be healthy or not. For example, I regularly paired hummus with cut up vegetables for a snack because in my mind, the more vegetables the better. However, I never really found it to be a satisfying snack. Now, I pair hummus with pretzels or crackers and find it to be one of my most enjoyable snacks. For me, embracing food satisfaction means choosing foods based on what my body, soul and emotions are craving.
As with intuitive eating, allowing satisfaction to help guide your food choices takes patience, compassion and practice. However, there are a few ways you can practice listening to your inner voice to discover which foods you truly find enjoyable without obsessing with healthy eating.
Pause Before Eating
Next time you step in the kitchen to prepare a meal or you open a menu to make a selection, pause. Take three deep breathes. Count to 10. Whatever works for you to become more present. Think about what really sounds delicious in that moment. Ask yourself do I want something warm or cold? Crunchy or smooth? Sweet, salty or savory? While it might not always be possible to get the exact food you think of, it may help guide you to a more satisfying choice. For example, wanting your mom’s homemade chicken noodle soup may indicate you’re looking for something warm and comforting. If mom’s soup isn’t on the menu, perhaps something else that reminds you of home is.
Be Flexible at Mealtime
Meal planning can be a lifesaver especially during the busy work week. I personally feel more prepared to tackle the week ahead when I have a few meal ideas ready to go and the refrigerator stocked with ingredients. But it doesn’t mean than just because I planned to make pasta on Monday night I can’t make the fish tacos I planned for Tuesday night instead. I mean, how can we really know what we’re going to have a taste for when planning a handful of days out? Being flexible about my meals makes sure I’m still eating a satisfying meal, but keeps me from wasting the food I bought over the weekend.
Try New Foods
It’s easy and normal to continually eat foods we are comfortable with and that we know we like. Honestly, in some cases, it’s the easiest way to know you’ll be satisfied with your meal. However, trying new types of foods can introduce us to new tastes and flavors we never knew we could or would enjoy. Trying different kinds of ethnic cuisines can introduce you to a spice you find deeply satisfying or help you discover a new type of vegetable you enjoy. Trying new foods adds variety to your diet and keeps meals from getting boring (and possibly unsatisfying).
Finding enjoyment in our food can be one of life’s great joys. I hope this post inspires you to discover which kinds of foods you find most satisfying and in turn, I hope you eat more of them.