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  • Carly Onopa

Reclaim Your Food Satisfaction

Updated: Jul 7



Picture this. You are at a restaurant with your best friends for a celebratory dinner. The dining room is set with ambient lighting, soft instrumental music playing in the background, and great company around the table. The moment comes when you decide what you want to order. I want you to think about what drives your decision making when it comes to food. Is it food rules? Fear of judgment for your food choices? What others are eating? What you ate earlier in the day?


I’m curious…does food satisfaction even enter the equation when you decide what you want to eat?


For many of us, food satisfaction may be the last thing they think about when it comes to food.


What is Satisfaction?

Satisfaction is defined as the “fulfillment of one’s wishes, expectations, or needs or the pleasure derived from this.” Pure satisfaction is found when the experience matches the need and produces feelings of contentedness.


Satisfaction can be easy to spot. Think of when you worked studied really hard and got a good grade. Or when you finished a creative project. Or when a friend brought you hot tea when you had a sore throat. The list could go on and on. Yet, when it comes to food satisfaction many people feel stuck.


So, what is food satisfaction?

While current diet culture, tries to make food decisions “simple” by publishing “eat this not that” or providing food rules to the masses, intuitive eating embraces food satisfaction as the “hub” of an optimal dining experience. The 10 principles of intuitive eating all work synergistically to create a satisfying eating experience. Below you can see how this interconnectedness may function.


  • Rejecting the diet mentality, allows us to get out of the deprivation cycle and be at peace with our body.

  • Honoring our hunger helps us tune into subtle hunger and helps us avoid extreme hunger to create a more pleasant eating experience.

  • Making peace with food allows us to respond to our hunger cues with foods that we enjoy because no foods are off limits. When no food is off limit, we don’t have to try to “trick” our body out of eating a food we want to eat, which often allows a person to be satisfied with less.

  • When we stand up to the food police, we are able to heal from our negative self-talk and negative food talk, ultimately removing feelings of guilt and shame around eating.

  • When we can feel our fullness, we can be at peace with our body’s fullness response and reach a comfortable fullness creating a pleasant eating experience.

  • When we have other non-food coping skills to feel our emotions, our emotional needs can be tended to and food can stay a satisfying experience without it being our only way of deriving satisfaction.

  • When we aren’t trying to actively change our body, we are able to accept our hunger and fullness cues and respond accordingly.

  • When we engage in intuitive movement, exercise isn’t a way to punish ourselves for food that we ate earlier. Food and exercise are no longer in a compensatory link allowing for both experiences to be more satisfying.

  • When practicing gentle nutrition, our eating experience is all the more satisfying as we are combining our internal attunement and external health values bringing satisfaction from the food that we are eating while also enjoying life satisfaction.


The simple definition of food satisfaction is having the food freedom and personal body knowledge to eat food that is physically (matches hunger and fullness cues) and psychologically (matches our desire for certain foods) appealing.

How do we rediscover satisfaction?

It’s important to know that at one point you likely had satisfaction with food. This is a relearning process! So where to start?


Step 1: Try to figure out what you REALLY want. Consider the following questions to help you get to what you really want.


What looks good to eat?

.

What food smells good to me right now?

.

What tastes or flavors are appealing to me?

.

What texture/mouth feel would be most satisfying?

.

Is there a particular preparation method that I’m looking for?

.

What temperature of food would enhance my dining experience?

.

What level of hunger am I? What amount of volume would satisfy that level of hunger?

.

These questions help us get to the heart of what we want instead of playing a “trick”


When first learning to identify true food preferences, I will usually encourage my clients to use objective food descriptors like those pictured below to help them identify what food choices they are leaning towards.



Step 2: Plate the food you REALLY want.

A concern I hear from my clients is that if they have unconditional permission around food and let themselves have what they really want, then they won’t ever stop eating. However, what has become increasingly clear is that when we are at peace with food and are eating food we truly find enjoyable, we are more likely to stop when we are comfortably full.


Step 3: Create Ambience.

Meal times can be chaotic. I get it! Sometimes you can’t help it. But on times when you can, try to choose to slow down. Clear the table of clutter. Light a candle or two. Use the fancy plates. If eating with another person, avoid contentious topics. We can increase our satisfaction with an eating experience by creating an enjoyable atmosphere including physical setting and the company we invite to enjoy our meal with us.


Step 4: Be Present and Savor the Food.

Sometimes being present at a meal can be difficult, especially early on in the recovery process. However, when it feels safe to be present with our food, this act can help us tune in more closely with our body’s cues. To help you savor your food:


Start with a grounding activity – deep breathing, “5 senses” coping skill, playing “I Spy”

Carve out time just to eat without distractions.

Be intentional with your pace – try setting your utensils or food down between bites or engaging in conversation between bites

Take time to notice the flavors on your tongue


Step 5: Check In.

When talking about food satisfaction, I educate my clients that they must reach some level of fullness in order to be satisfied. After all, the definition of satisfaction is having a need met and what is hunger if not an unmet biological need. Therefore, checking in with our body during a meal can help enhance our satisfaction with a meal.


In Summary

Diet culture has robbed many of their food satisfaction. Reclaiming your taste buds and right to food satisfaction is important intuitive eating work.


If you’re finding you need more help in navigating your progression towards Intuitive Eating, please contact me for individual nutrition counseling.

Resources:

Intuitive Eating: A Revolutionary Program That Works

Intuitive Eating Workbook: 10 Principles for Nourishing a Healthy Relationship with Food



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