How To Discover The Satisfaction Factor with Food: Principle 6 of Intuitive Eating
Can you even find joy in eating again?
Diet plans strip away the pleasure from eating experiences, but you can find joy in eating again by working on satisfaction from food, a key element in Intuitive Eating.
When you think about food, how often does your personal satisfaction come into play?
- ask yourself what might taste good? OR
- do you tend to put aside the foods you most enjoy for ‘healthier’ alternatives?
Principle 6 of Intuitive Eating is: Discover the Satisfaction Factor
Satisfaction is defined as:Fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs, or the pleasure derived from this.
Did you know?
Satisfaction is really the hub of Intuitive Eating. Each of the remaining principles 9 of Intuitive Eating incorporate some element of satisfaction, whether it is with your body, your mind, or your taste buds.
Humans are meant to derive pleasure and satisfaction from our meals. The absence of that satisfaction factor often wants you wishing for more.
Have you ever felt like this when it comes to food?
Have you ever been hungry, say around 3pm? What you really want is your favorite chocolate chip cookie, but you have read that you should have an apple instead…
Even though the apple doesn’t sound too good right now, you dutifully eat it because it’s what you ‘should do.’ But, you still feel hungry and unsatisfied! And now your cravings for that cookie are even stronger!
Perhaps you try to grab a yogurt because that’s also a ‘healthy’ food. You do like yogurt but it’s not really appealing right now. But, you eat it anyway.
You still don’t feel right.
And then you end up eating the cookie.
But instead of enjoying that delicious cookie and savoring it, you’re feeling so guilty because you were ‘weak’ and succumbed’ to eating the cookie.
What if you had just eaten that cookie in the first place?
How do you think that would have changed your experience?
Pleasure from Food = Survival of Our Species
Have you ever stopped to consider why food tastes good?
The fact that food tastes good and is satisfying ensures that we will want to eat it. That in turn, helps our species survive.
We are meant to get satisfaction from food, and by tuning into the different elements of satisfaction we can get benefits from food beyond their nutritional content.
Isn’t Satisfaction Just From Taste or Cravings?
When we talk about satisfaction from food, the first thing that probably comes to mind is satisfaction from taste.
Sweet, salty, sour or bitter – or perhaps a combination!
When we start to allow ourselves the ability to derive satisfaction from food, we might first start to think about foods we are craving.
Focusing on taste is a great place to start, but there’s so much more!
Here are 5 simple ways to increase your satisfaction with food:
- Texture: Do you have a desire for something crunchy? Or smooth, creamy, or chewy?
- Temperature: In the summer, nothing tastes better than a cold glass of water or lemonade. But after a day of skiing, something hot, like soup or hot cocoa really make you feel nourished.
- Visual factors: Think for a minute about how lovely Japanese food is presented. It is an absolute feast for the eyes. No, I’m not suggesting that you make every meal a work of art! But, I want to encourage you to explore how subtle shifts in the visual appeal of your meals might make you feel more satisfied from them.
Here are a few suggestions:
- Add some color variety: What is more appealing, a bowl of oatmeal with berries, honey and nuts – or – a bowl of oatmeal with some nuts on top? Adding some berries tends to elevate the meal, both in taste and appearance.
- Put it on a plate or bowl that heightens your senses! A takeout container isn’t that visually inspiring, is it?
- Surroundings/Environment: And then there’s the satisfaction we derive from our eating experience. What is your eating environment like and does that affect your satisfaction?
Here are a few suggestions to make your environment more pleasant:
- Clear the table. Eating with a stack of papers and books around you sends a not-so-subtle message that you’re not worth it.
- Add something to increase the visual appeal. Perhaps some flowers or the flickering light from a candle.
- Try subtle smells: Some people find the smell of citrus or cinnamon, through potpourri or a candle, to bring added joy to their eating experience.
- Don’t forget sounds: Some instrumental music like jazz, or classical can really help set the stage.*
*While instrumental music can really heighten your senses and help increase your satisfaction with meals, devices like TV, cell phones, tablets and books all distract you from your meal. I recommend working on eating without those present.
- Level of Hunger: As you continue to practice with your hunger and fullness levels, you’ll start to notice that you have different eating experiences based on your level of hunger when you start eating.
- At a level 1 (ravenous), you might eat so quickly to relieve your intense hunger pangs that you barely even taste or appreciate your food.
- At a level 8 (full), your full stomach might prevent you from really enjoying the experience from a physical standpoint.
- But, at a level 3 you may be hungry enough to physically want to eat and be able to eat at a pace that allows your full senses to be involved.
Explore what hunger level results in the most satisfying eating experience for you.
Wow, there’s a lot to consider, isn’t there?
If you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed by this list…
I’m not suggesting that you focus on ALL the above right away for every meal! I just want to plant the seed that there are so many ways to make your meals more satisfying.
And why I’d like to remind you that we are always working on…
Progress, not perfection
Can You Relate?
Perhaps, like me, your weeknight dinners can be a little chaotic. You might find yourself sitting at a child’s sports practice, at a rehearsal, or at a volunteer meeting during your typical dinner hours.
Your frustration might make you feel like throwing in the towel when it comes to finding satisfaction in your eating environment.
I’d like you put aside that all-or-nothing thinking, and think outside the box!
When confronted with a similar situation, one of my clients came up with a brilliant idea.
It’s so great that I have to share!
You see, her son’s soccer practice schedule had her sitting in the car, in the dark, two nights a week. She’d regularly eat her dinner during that hour practice. Not too satisfying, right?
But, here’s the brilliant part!
She took one of those battery-powered votive candles and turned it on and put it right on her dashboard before she started to eat.
Can’t you just picture it!
That simple act of elevating her environment helped her feel more connected to and satisfied by her food!
Are you ready to start making your meals more satisfying?
You might be wondering where to begin.
Here’s your step-by-step plan for increasing your satisfaction with food:
- Pick one meal or snack each day
- For 3-4 days this week at your chosen meal/snack, commit to increasing satisfaction in a couple ways. Start by picking 1 or 2 from the different elements here:
- Before you begin eating, take a moment or two to observe your meal and surroundings.
- Reflect on and journal about what gives you positive feelings in this moment.
If you continue with this exercise for a full week, you’ll start to notice that you get more pleasure from your meals and snacks.
Increasing your satisfaction with food isn’t hard at all!
It just takes some practice!
Perhaps this intro into Intuitive Eating has you wanting to learn more.
Are you ready to begin working on increasing your satisfaction with food?
Click here to download my Take Action with Satisfaction Worksheet.
Ready to learn more?
Check out my recent articles on Intuitive Eating linked below.
They will give you in-depth insight of all the steps when it comes to Intuitive Eating, from:
“What is Intuitive Eating?” down to all the specific principles.
Check out my blog frequently as I finish off this series with Principles 7-10 on the blog in the coming months.
Here’s to many satisfying eating experiences!
Kelly Abramson MS, RD is a dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor who works with clients in Alexandria, VA and virtually via telehealth. She guides women as they break free from dieting to find joy in food and their bodies. Kelly blogs regularly at NpowerYou.com and has created a free e-book for download, “7 Steps to Overcome Stress Eating.”