I had a ‘catch up’ dinner recently with one of my besties- we are both crazy busy so it doesn’t happen often enough. We went to Onesto, an Italian restaurant because bread and pasta are two of my favorite things🍝. And yes, this dietitian eats bread & pasta and sees nothing wrong with it. Ice cream too - remember everything in moderation ;)
Five years ago, I would have ordered a glass of wine, a salad and grilled chicken breast. I would have told them to forget the bread, don't even put it on the table. And I would have went home annoyed. And hungry. In fact, there were many times I did. Sometimes I ignored the hunger and went to bed. Other times I’d figure I needed a treat and eat chocolate or any other dessert possible. I can say it wouldn’t be a small amount either. When a little piece doesn't work you just have more and more and more.
That was the old me. The calorie counting, macro counting, fitness competition girl. She was miserable. Food held nothing but guilt or irritation. Guilt that I ate it or irritation I didn’t eat it which lead to overeating of something. I decided that wasn’t how I wanted to live my life.
Shifting to the present - Last night's meal. I had a grilled eggplant dish stuffed with cheese and vegetables, lots of chardonnay and we split a bread and pesto appetizer. It was amazing and I finished it ALL. I wasn’t stuffed…I didn’t each much during the day because of being busy. But when the waitress asked about dessert, it wasn’t even a thought, even though I wasn’t stuffed. Why? We ate satisfying food we loved and didn’t need it. My satisfaction was a 9 of 10 and that's pretty damn good.
A couple hours later I found myself starving. Which is my normal. It means I didn’t overeat EVEN THOUGH I had bread, wine, cheese... How many people can say they went to an Italian restaurant, ordered exactly what they wanted and didn’t overdo it? I hear over and over that people overindulge, or like I used to – don’t indulge and then go home and overdo it.
We overeat because we don’t allow ourselves the FREEDOM to eat what we want without feeling guilty about it. It takes time to develop the mentality that all foods are ok if you follow the diet mentality or think the way I did in the past. Really, food is just food. Not good or bad, just food. When you start to think about your hunger, fullness and satisfaction levels rather that what you “should” eat, I promise things will change. This is not to say we should ignore the health perspective by any means but again - moderation and balance come into play.
HOW DO I BEGIN TO HAVE FOOD FREEDOM??
Start by keying in to how what you eat addresses your hunger, fullness and satisfaction.
Before a meal ask yourself:
How hungry am I on the scale of 1-10? (1 STARVING TO DEATH, 10 so stuffed you could die)
After you finish a meal or snack think about:
How full am I on a scale of 1-10? (1 STARVING TO DEATH, 10 so stuffed you could die)
How satisfied am I on a scale of 1-10? (1 this sucked, I hated it, 10 this was AMAZING and I loved it)
I would argue the question "how satisfied am I with this meal" is a more important question than how full we are. Being full and being satisfied are NOT the same thing. In fact, many of my clients have found when their satisfaction is very high, their fullness is actually lower... and the opposite too. When a food or meal doesn’t satisfy you, you end up overeating to find satisfaction. Ever overate your ‘healthy’ dinner because you just needed more food? More than likely you didn’t find that meal satisfying – and if you liked it more, you would have ate less. By rating your meals, you can become aware of what works well for you and what doesn’t.
I will talk more about the intuitive eating concept in the future but to summarize it :
Eat when you are hungry
Stop eating when you are satisfied
Eat things that nourish your body and make you feel good
Move your body
Becoming aware of your hunger, fullness and satisfaction will lead to trust in yourself and your ability to know what your body needs. By taking the time to rate some of your meals, you can become aware of what works well for you and what doesn’t. It might surprise you. Give it a try and let me know what you learn - it is always interesting.