While making breakfast recently, the toast popped up a bit black. My omelet was hot and ready, but I found myself analyzing the toast. “Well, it’s a dark brown on one side,” I tried to convince myself.
Now, some might like burnt toast, and that’s perfectly fine, but I really prefer a nice golden brown. I had to smile when I found myself trying to decide whether or not to eat the subpar toast, or to start with a fresh slice of bread. Many of us grew up in “clean your plate” households, and old habits die hard.
This don’t-leave-a-thing attitude has been attributed to the days of the Great Depression, but I’m sure kids weren’t allowed to pitch dinner leftovers prior to that time, either. It’s really only been a blink in time of human history that we, in some parts of the world, have been blessed with ample amounts of food.
Despite having plenty, however, many of us still find ourselves eating food that really is not all that satisfying or enjoyable.
The Satisfaction Factor
As you begin to notice those first signs of hunger (stomach emptiness or growling, thoughts about food, etc.), I want you to ask yourself, “What am I hungry for? What would most satisfy me right now?”
It’s important to consider what’s available, of course, but when you truly focus on what you want – and you give it to yourself – you’ll obtain more pleasure from the eating occasion. Plus, when you are truly satisfied, you are less likely to think about food outside of your natural hunger.
Where do particular food desires come from? Our bodies and minds are beyond intelligent, and are quite capable of signaling us to choose key nutrients that are running in short supply.
For example, one day you may find yourself preferring more energy-dense, high fat foods, and the next day you may end up craving lots of fruits and vegetables. Your body will tell you if you make everything available to it and give it what it wants when it wants.
Sounds great, right? Of course! But, it does take effort for most of us to get to this point of honoring our hunger and trusting our bodies.
The Trust Factor
Before you can truly honor your hunger with satisfying foods, it is critical that you trust your mind and body’s inner wisdom.
To do this, you must be able to put all foods that you enjoy eating on a level playing field. If you have any belief that certain foods are worse for you than others, you will have a difficult time consuming them without lingering feelings of guilt. Guilt will often arise in all aspects of your eating experience (choosing foods, consuming foods, digesting foods), and it swipes from the bank of satisfaction that otherwise allow you to enjoy your food. Guilt and food have no place together.
Part of trusting ourselves is keeping a well-stocked supply of food on hand, at all times.
If you work away from home, this means bringing a cooler stored with a variety of foods you like. At home, it means keeping the pantry, refrigerator, freezer, and countertops well supplied. This way, when you ask yourself the satisfaction question, you have many choices available. There are no right or wrong answers here.
The Acceptance Factor
If you aren’t happy with the way your body looks and feels, it can be very difficult to trust that it knows what it needs, and subsequently, to provide it with foods that pack satisfaction.
Acceptance is simply acknowledging that, “In this moment, I am happy with the way I look and feel.” It’s not about living in the future of “When I am thin (or more muscular, etc.), then I will…” It’s not about regretting past diet or exercise mishaps.
Acceptance is a place of inner peace, and it is really all that we have to work with. The past has happened, and the future is uncertain. Make the best of the present by giving yourself what you want.
Back to the Toast
So, what was my decision?
I started with a fresh slice of bread, and my omelet was still hot and satisfying when I ate it with golden toast.
Luckily, I live in the country, and have five hungry hens who love any deviation from chicken feed (they cluck happily with any overripe produce or stale pantry foods). In turn, the ladies provide me with fabulous eggs that make great omelets.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with satisfaction, trust, and/or acceptance. Please share them in the comments so that we can all benefit.