Is Your Eating Experience Missing the Satisfaction Factor?

You’ve heard me talk about intuitive eating before. It consists of ten principles created by a pair of registered dietitians back in the 90’s that’s gotten a lot more popular in the last handful of years, and for good reason: research suggests people who eat intuitively have lower BMIs and a higher level of body confidence, among other things.

Most people think of “eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full” when they think of intuitive eating, but if that’s all that comes to mind, you’re missing a big, important piece: The Satisfaction Factor.

Let’s say you’re doing your best to eat well, stay on track, and nourish your body. What sounds more satisfying (and less likely to have you standing in front of the open fridge an hour later, hunting for something else to eat)?

Option one: You get home from work starving, frantically eat some cheese cubes while you pace back and forth waiting for your microwave dinner to finish cooking, then eat while you scroll through social media, getting up often to do other things, like feed the dog and yell upstairs to your kids to brush their teeth. By the time you’re done you feel full, but like it happened to someone else; you weren’t really tasting the food or even noticing what you were doing.

Option two: You eat a handful of almonds before you leave work so you’re not starving when you get home. You take care of a few things that need taking care of while your microwave meal heats up, like feeding the dog, and checking to see if the kids need anything. You also fix yourself a side salad with some delicious tomatoes from the farmer’s market. You put down a placemat, turn on some music you enjoy, and put away your phone. When you eat, you take the time to focus on your meal, noticing how it tastes and smells. When you’re done with your meal you feel satisfied and satiated.

How to add "the satisfaction factor" to your meals?

Option two, sounds the best, right? There’s nothing wrong with eating a microwave meal (or whatever else fits with your goals and lifestyle) on any given day, what matters is that you learn to do things to add satisfaction to meal times. Here are some things to try:

Eat things you actually enjoy

You’ve heard me say this one before! It doesn’t matter if all the celebrities are drinking kale smoothies, if you don’t like them or find they don’t satisfy your hunger at all, don’t drink them! Eat things you like, even if you have to modify the amounts or recipe a little to have it line up with your eating plan. It’s hard to feel satisfied if you’re eating a bunch of stuff you dislike.

Slow down

If you’re always shoving down your food as fast as you can to get out of the door, or eating in the car on the way to the next thing, I’m guessing eating isn’t a very satisfying experience. To up your game, try to eat at least one meal a day at a time when you can sit and be mindful of the eating experience.

Pay attention to what you’re eating

I know I’m guilty of this one: I’ll prepare a meal for myself only to do other things while I eat, like reading, or looking at Instagram, or checking my phone. It’s okay to sometimes do other stuff while you eat, but again, try to pick at least one meal a day where you eat without distraction, as this really ups the satisfaction factor.

Use all of your senses

You know how good cinnamon rolls smell? Or chocolate chip cookies? Smell is part of the experience of eating, but we rarely take the time to engage it. When you sit down to eat, smell your food. Notice how pretty it looks, and the array of colors on your plate. Give thanks/appreciate the meal if that feels good to you. When you take that first bite of food, really taste it. Feel the texture, appreciate the temperature. Connect with the food you’re eating.

It’s not always easy to slow down and pay attention to and enjoy your food, but it will add a lot of delight and satisfaction to your eating.

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