April 23, 2019 | Lex Daddio
Good Morning! This step in the intuitive eating process is such a process, but over time you won’t have to think so hard about it and it’ll just become natural for you. That’s pretty much how most of the steps are to be honest. The point is to work through the steps so you can become more in tune with your body and then once you are, it’ll be second nature. One of my favorite quotes about this step is right at the beginning of the chapter and it says,
“The Japanese have the wisdom to promote pleasure as one of their goals of healthy living. In our fury to be thin and healthy, we often overlook one of the most basic gifts of existence — the pleasures and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. When you eat what you really want, in an environment that is inviting, the pleasure you derive will be a powerful force in helping you feel satisfied and content. By providing this experience for yourself, you will find that it takes much less food to decide you’ve had enough.” (pg. 132)
I think this is such a great point. Sometimes and often, we focus too much on the formula of food, how to eat, etc, that we completely miss out on the satisfaction and pleasure of food. I’ve been here and done this plenty of times in my life. Trust me, it’s hard. Especially with so much information around you. With diets. With all the noise. Beach bodys. Flat abs. You get the point. It’s easy to get sucked in. What if we quieted all that noise and instead tuned into what we actually like and enjoy. It’s actually proven that when you eat what you like and desire, you tend to eat less of that thing. Not that you need to eat less, but you’re often satisfied on less rather than bulking up to try to eat a certain way somebody or something is telling you to.
There are a few steps you can take to help discover the satisfaction factor again. To discover tastes, textures, aromas, etc that you actually love. Finding what makes you feel good physically and what also nourishes your soul. Finding the joy with food again rather than seeing food as an enemy or a fear. It doesn’t have to be a battle. My relationship with food was a battle for most of my life. All the diets, fasts, cleanses, etc. I did it all. I always struggled with weight growing up, and honestly food and I had a terrible relationship. It wasn’t until I could heal my relationship with food that I could start actually enjoying food again. I stopped fighting myself and my body. My choices.
Through that process, the binges decreased. I started discovering foods I LOVED, not ones that people tell me to eat. For example, I love love love bananas and peanut butter, toast in all forms, recently oatmeal (I used to hate it when it felt like a healthy breakfast that I should eat instead of one I wanted to eat), tacos, yogurt, pizza, greek salad, chocolate chip cookies and so many other things! I actually am at a point now where I can play around with these things too. What I mean by that, is sometimes I’ll make a more wholesome nutrient dense version of some of these things especially desserts because I actually enjoy both desserts that are made from flour, sugar, and butter as well as ones that are made of an alternative flour, maple syrup or honey, and oil! I have fun playing around and trying different recipes whereas before I would only allow myself to eat the “healthy” ones, so the other ones scared me.
Now that I shared a little more into what it’s looked like for me personally, let’s move into some steps to take to help you find what you love. First and foremost, you truly have to give yourself permission to enjoy your food. You have to really allow yourself and your mind to take this journey in enjoying your food, rather than fighting your food. The most you truly enjoy your food and have fun with it, the more it’ll be fun and satisfying and the less you focus and obsess over food. Another thing that is helpful is starting to figure out what you want to eat by focusing on certains sensations. For example, taste, texture, appearance, aroma, volume, temperature. Maybe you’re eating yogurt and berries for a snack because it’s supposed to be healthy. Well what if what you really want is something crunchy rather than creamy. What if what sounds better is crackers or carrots and cheese. What if you’re really wanting salty, but you’re forcing yourself to eat sweet because someone told you too or that’s what you should do? Usually, after you eat what you really weren’t wanting, you find yourself thinking about food because your brain still is preoccupied with food because you aren’t satisfied. If you actually ate the other snack, you’d probably be more satisfied and able to move on with your day and focus on other things rather than your next meal. AKA how I lived most of my life.
The next step is to think about how your body might feel when you’re done eating. Will you feel satisfied or will you still be hungry? Will something super dense make you feel to full later or will sometimes super airy make you still super hungry? Will something very sugary without protein send you off with a sugar spike? Just little things to think about to help make your decision on what you want. The next step is actually my favorite because it’s all about making the environment you’re eating in enjoyable. That’s what Thomas and I are all about. We try to create an atmosphere of calm, enjoyment, fun, pleasure, etc. We don’t do this at every meal, which I could get better at sometimes, but life happens and it’s not always perfect. Especially if you work in an office or an environment that you can’t eat at home, but there are plenty of things you can do to help create an enjoyable environment during your meal. Things you can do:
Eat when you’re gently hungry rather than starving
Create an enjoyable environment — sit at the table, use your favorite dish ware, play music, light candles, etc.
Savor your food.
Sit down at a table.
Eat a variety of food.
Take the time to eat and enjoy your food without distractions (phone, book, TV, etc)
Focus on actually tasting the food you’re eating and take time to chew.
Try to avoid tension while you’re eating.
The next step is not settling. It’s way easier to just follow a diet or a plan because it feels more controlled, but you often find yourself feeling deprived. If you don’t, then that’s great! Do whatever makes you feel good and maybe this post isn’t for you! But if you’re on the other end of the spectrum that completely and totally relates to this post, then I HEAR YOU! So what I mean about not settling isn’t that every food experience has to be perfect or spot on or exactly what you’re craving. But try this, “if you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savor it!” (pg. 313) I feel like this is one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received. The funny thing with intuitive eating, is through this process I feel like I’ve discovered foods I really don’t enjoy that I thought I did and was just eating because I thought I was supposed to. It’s a fun journey and it keeps you on your toes 🙂
Okay, last two steps! One, check in WHILE you’re eating. Are you still enjoying your food? Does it taste good? Do you actually like this food? Is it satisfying? Are you full or still hungry? Check in to see how you actually feel! Now for the last step, have grace with yourself because it doesn’t have to be perfect! You won’t be stop on every time. Sometimes meals aren’t in your hands and you have to eat what you’re provided. Just remember that there are plenty of opportunities for satisfying meals in life so they won’t always be exactly what you want. That’s apart of the process and it’ll get better! Just keep pushing along, take it day by day, and try to enjoy the process and have fun with it rather than stress about it or get overwhelmed!
That’s all for now! Hope you all enjoyed this lengthy one this week!
Tribole, E. and E. Resch. 2012. Intuitive Eating, 3rd edition. St. Martin’s Press, NY:NY.