The biggest turn off for me in the past when I was hopping from one “new thing” to the next was the lack of satisfaction when it came to eating. I can honestly say that not one diet or weight loss program has had a food list that I would enjoy. All of the rules took all of the fun and enjoyment out of the meal. From the book Intuitive Eating, we read:
“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 pleasure 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.” ” (Tribole, Evelyn ; Resch, Elyse (2012-08-07). Intuitive Eating, 3rd Edition (p. 132). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.)
Abraham Maslow taught that we are driven by our unmet needs and he created the hierarchy of needs. This is why deprivation – like what’s created when we are given a list of “do not have foods” – creates an internal environment where we will do whatever it takes to be satisfied – even sneak into the kitchen after everyone else is sound asleep and enjoy all the ice cream. Whether it is food or relationships or career— if we’re not satisfied, we’re not happy. So when one is working through all of the rules for a weight loss program they will begin to feel an overwhelming desire to consume the foods they have been told they cannot have because they perceive there will be no satisfaction found in this program.
Intuitive Eating is about rejecting the diet mentality. This includes throwing out all books, magazine articles, diet journals, food lists, scales, calculations. It also means getting rid of “allergy causing” foods only after being properly diagnosed and not because it’s what helped your neighbor or the friend of your cousin’s brother-in-law. The craziness has to STOP and the individual who is fed up has to take the first step. The peace that comes from letting it all go is indescribable and one of my most favorite things about the process.
The other day I had a conversation with my oldest daughter who had heard about and then read about Trim Healthy Mama (THM). She thought, “Why not? I’ll give it a shot.” In a short period of time she began to feel dieting backlash. The rules became overwhelming and she felt, once again, as though she had failed. When she admitted to me that she was no longer following all the rules, we talked about my experience with reading this book.
My body is so fed up with diets – and, yes, Trim Healthy Mama IS a diet – that once I reached the part of the book that talked about how to create a satisfying meal (S meal) verses an energy meal (E meal) I began to feel every muscle of my body tense up and my deprived 2-yr-old came out screaming, “NOT AGAIN! NOT AGAIN! NOT AGAIN!” I closed the book and have never reopened it.
I was not reading the book so that I could “try one more thing.” I read the book to better understand what it was all about. The creators claim that it’s a “lifestyle change” but it is not. You can easily spot a lifestyle change because there are no rules. There are no food lists of any kind. NONE. EVER. (Unless you’ve been properly diagnosed with a food allergy.) Intuitive Eating has no rules. I work with my clients on reconnecting with THEIR Intuitive Eater. Your Intuitive Eater will like different foods in different quantities than my Intuitive Eater and that’s by design. For that reason, I have no business imposing food lists upon anyone. It is possible to regain health, which includes a healthy weight, even if one is consuming gluten, carbs, fats, and calories.
I took the time to talk with my daughter about food satisfaction. Food is supposed to satisfy us. We talked about the fact that a bowl of cereal with milk is a lousy breakfast. It’s typically less than 300 calories and therefore is classified as a snack NOT a meal and certainly not a meal that will satisfy a body that’s been fasting for 8 or more hours. How many calories should be in a meal? I don’t know either. Why? Because your body is different than mine. My body likes to have nothing less than 600 calories in the morning. Anything less than that and I’m hungry and scavenging for food within 30-minutes. My daughter decided to test my “theory” and was surprised to discover that a high calorie breakfast – home made bacon (turkey – her choice not mine), egg and cheese bagel – satisfied for her HOURS and gave her more energy than any of the THM meals had ever given her.
Here’s the problem with unsatisfying meals: they leave us wanting more and usually lead us right to the foods we have chosen to avoid. Why? Because those foods are high in calories. Calories are fuel for the body. Do you try to heat your home with a fire but only keep as little wood as possible in the fireplace? Are you thinking that I’m a tad bit crazy? After all WHO would do that? But, that is EXACTLY what we do when reduce our caloric intake. We are asking our fireplace (metabolism) to run full steam ahead with less fuel than it needs.
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ENJOY YOUR FOOD!
Satisfaction now leads to less eating later. What happens when you’ve spent all day super busy and “unable” to stop and eat? The moment you finally get home and relax you spend the next few hours in the kitchen eating everything you can get your hands on then…..the guilt trip begins and you believe that have failed once again. The truth is that you didn’t take the time to feed your fire (metabolism), even though you pushed it to perform at full steam. This created a situation where the moment you had time and access to fuel, you consumed it because your body needed it.
Here’s how to regain pleasure in your eating:
- Step 1: Ask yourself what you really want to eat. Give yourself unconditional permission to eat whatever you want and then eat it in a relaxing and enjoyable environment.
- Step 2: Discover the pleasure of the palate. Take time to notice the taste, texture, smell, appearance, temperature, and filling-capacity of the food you are eating.
- Step 3: Make your eating experience more enjoyable. Take time to enjoy the meal. Eat in a place free of distractions, except for pleasant conversation. Taste and savor every single bite. Take a break periodically to tune in and see how you’re feeling. Are you feeling satisfied? Is the food still tasting good to you? etc…
- Step 4: Don’t settle. If what you chose to eat is not appealing to you, don’t eat it. It’s okay if what you chose doesn’t tastes like it looked or sounded. Get something else.
- Step 5: Check in – does it still taste good? If it doesn’t, stop eating it. If you’re still hungry, get something else. Just because something no longer tastes good doesn’t mean that you are satisfied enough to be finished.
“When you allow yourself pleasure and satisfaction from every possible eating experience, your total quantity of food will decrease.” (Tribole, Evelyn ; Resch, Elyse (2012-08-07). Intuitive Eating, 3rd Edition (p. 136). St. Martin’s Press. Kindle Edition.)
Always remember that this is process. Changes will not happen over night and that’s okay. Healing takes time…..enjoy the adventure.