Whether it's friendship, relationships or career - if we're not satisfied, we're not happy.
And when this comes to what we choose to eat, it could not be truer.
When we embark on a diet or are trying to lose weight, satisfying food are the first to disappear from our daily intake in a bid to reduce calories. The thing is, how many plain rice-cakes does it take to fill the void when, if you're honest with yourself, all you really want is a hearty sandwich?
When we are truly satisfied with our eating experience, we tend to need a lot less to make us feel truly full and content. Several research studies have found that we regularly feel guilty for eating the foods we enjoy. It seems we have forgotten that food is a pleasurable entity, to be relished, appreciated and enjoyed.
Here are my five steps to discovering the satisfaction in food.
- Ask yourself: What do I really want?
This question is revolutionary! When we're on a diet, we rely on diet plans, apps or some other external source to tell us when, what and how much to eat. The truth is, we are born with the innate ability to make these decisions. Ever try to convince a toddler to eat carrot sticks when all she wants is chocolate biscuits shaped like animals? It doesn't end well, no matter how much you hum and haw over the menu, ordering a salad when you want steak, will not lead to a satisfying experience.
2. Explore the senses
At your next mealtime, take a moment to ask yourself what would hit the spot right now. Consider quantity (a meal vs a snack), taste (sweet, savoury or a bit of both), temperature (hot soup, cold salad, or room temperature snacks).
Think about how your choice will feel in your stomach. Will it keep you full until your next meal of just a couple of hours? Sitting down to a heavy meal when you just need a snack won't be a pleasurable experience. Just like grabbing a yoghurt and a banana when you need a solid meal won't leave you satisfied.
3. Don't underestimate your environment.
Maximise your eating experience by enjoying them in a pleasing environment. Dine in a restaurant or Café with a warm and welcoming atmosphere or if you're at home, clear your laptop and papers away from the table and make use of those fancy plates you have stashed away.
Eating what you want in a pleasing environment are is the most pertinent step to finding true satisfaction from your meals
4. Check in with yourself
Just like a waiter in a restaurant will ask you how your meal is going, remember to check in with yourself regularly to see if your food tastes as good as it did for the first couple of mouthfuls. Ask yourself, am I still enjoying this? When we have dieted for long periods, we get accustomed to eating how much the plan or app has set out for us and, if we're only allowed X number of calories a day - you better believe we're going to eat everyone!
5. Don't aim for perfection
Every meal or snack choice isn't going to have the ultimate satisfaction factor. Sometimes we will get it wrong and that's okay. Rushing lunch before a big meeting or downing a cereal bar when you're stuck in traffic is a normal part of life. Know that if every mealtime is not a satisfying experience it's entirely okay. We all must endure our other-half's not so wonderful cooking and try out our best mates' gluten-free baking attempts with a grateful grin (even if we may want to grimace).
Enjoying meals with family and friends is an exquisite social activity which is too often relegated when we are dieting, fixated on calories and weight loss goals. Jo helps clients to leave dieting in the past and rebuild a healthy relationship with food, so we can identify our own hunger, fullness and satisfaction queues.
Jo is a Suffolk-based registered Dietician with a Postgraduate Certificate in Eating Disorders and a Masters Degree in Community Healthcare. Follow her anti-diet compassionate advice on her site antidietanswers.com or follow her on instagram