The 10 Principles of Intuitive Eating are from Tribole and Resch's Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program that Works.
Principle 6: Discover the Satisfaction Factor
The sixth principle of Intuitive Eating is one of my favorites to discuss. Not only does the satisfaction factor seem to be a taboo topic (food—satisfying?! perish the thought!) in the world of food, but Trioble and Resch have aptly nicknamed it "The Hub of Intuitive Eating".
The Hub of Intuitive Eating
They refer to it as the "hub" because satisfaction truly is central to the idea of Intuitive Eating. I mean, isn't that the goal of most things: job satisfaction, satisfaction in relationships, life satisfaction? How come the satisfaction discussion rarely happens about food, though?
I'll tell you why—it's because of diet culture and those darn food police! We have been taught for so long to not trust our bodies and intuition that it's not "socially acceptable" to be satisfied with our bodies or our relationship with food. How screwed up is that?! Well friends, I'm here to tell you that you CAN have satisfaction with both food AND your body. We'll discuss respecting the body and body satisfaction in a later post in this series, but let's focus on food satisfaction right now.
We have been taught for so long to not trust our bodies and intuition that it's not "socially acceptable" to be satisfied with our bodies or our relationship with food.
Put the "Action" back into Satisfaction
It's time to take action and learn some ways to increase the pleasure and satisfaction of the food experience! While what I'll discuss here is by no means an inclusive list, but it is a few ways to take the first steps to food satisfaction.
First things first—it's important to eat foods you actually enjoy. I'm talking about setting yourself up to have a good experience with food and not just be eating for the sake of "it's time to eat, and I'm supposed to eat a salad because it's healthy". Do you even like salad? Yes? Okay then, eat the salad fixed how you like it with foods to sustain you (yummy carbs, proteins, and fats!). No, you don't like salad? Okay then, eat something you enjoy like a sandwich or a slice of pizza. When you take the dread out of a meal and put in some joy—you'll be surprised how much more the meal satisfies you!
What about distractions? Yep, I'm lookin' at you smart phones! Smart phones are thoroughbreds of distraction! When you're scrolling through your social media feed (or maybe watching television on the couch), it's likely you're not actively engaged in your meal. One of my clients, Sam*, struggles with this, but his distraction of choice is work emails. He grabs some lunch that was either packed from home or from the restaurant around the corner and sit in his office and answer emails. When he does this, though, he identified he isn't really engaging with or even tasting the food. He begins eating and answering emails, and then, all of a sudden, he looks up when his hand is scraping the bag or container because there's no more food. When this happens, there's a bit of sadness or loss because he finds himself physically full (sometimes overly full), but he didn't enjoy the meal. Eating was a mindless action instead of a mindful, intuitive one.
The last tip I'll discuss for food and meal satisfaction is to eat your meals in a pleasant environment and in an appealing manner. I understand this definition varies greatly from person to person, but can we agree a pleasant environment seems to make meals taste better? Yeah? Maybe for you this means eating lunch outside at the park next to your office instead of in your cubicle. Maybe you use dishes and silverware instead of paper plates and plastic ware. Did you know the appearance of a meal can affect how satisfying it is to you? It's true! Want an example? Here you go:
Yes, this clip is from The Cosby Show. Yes Cliff is ultimately talking about how Vanessa brought Dabnis home to meet him and Claire. Yes, this example is from the eighties. BUT! It sure paints a clear picture, doesn't it? When the food itself or the environment around us isn't appealing, it can breed dissatisfaction and discontent.
The point, again, exactly?
The point of food satisfaction and the tips I discussed above is that satisfaction is an integral component to becoming an intuitive eater. When we experience satisfaction with food and meals, we are able to stay attuned to (not distracted from!) our body and the messages it's sharing with us. When satisfaction is invited back into eating, we find we're able to discern fullness and are satisfied with much less food. Sounds good, doesn't it?
When I invited satisfaction back into food in my own life, I experienced much less anxiety around food and the act of eating. I now know the joy of eating and am somewhat unapologetic when it comes to not eating foods I don't like. If I don't like it, why would I eat it? There are so many wonderful and nutritious foods out there, and now I get to experience them as I like—without restriction!
*Client names have been changed so their true identities will not, in any way, be revealed, in order to maintain their anonymity.
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Hi there! I'm Sydney Cavero-Egúsquiza.
I'm a small town Oklahoma eating disorder dietitian with a passion for enjoying life. I love Disneyland, Smarties, and sharing time with family. My mission? To help individuals enjoy their lives and thrive by making peace with food and trusting their bodies!