Many of us worry that enjoying food will somehow open Pandora’s box, and lead to out-of-control eating. But it’s OK — and important — to like eating.
Eating foods we don’t like very much leaves us feeling unsatisfied and wanting more. In fact, for many people it leads to overeating and then guilt.
Not enjoying eating can also negatively affect your nutrition. As nutritionist Michelle Allison explained in our interview:
It means that, when you’re not enjoying food and the process of eating it – and also if you don’t like your body enough to take care of yourself with food – your health and the nutritional quality of your diet, over the long run, will be poorer.
In their book Intuitive Eating, authors and registered dietitians Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch feature a valuable 5-step process to regain the enjoyment of eating.
1. Ask yourself what you really want to eat. According to Tribole and Resch, “Satisfaction is derived when you take the time to figure out what you really want to eat, give yourself unconditional permission to eat it, and then eat in a relaxing, enjoyable atmosphere.”
2. Discover what piques your palate. The authors explained that many of their clients worry about either the past or the future when they’re eating. The last thing they do is focus on right now. The last thing they do is actually focus on what they’re eating.
If you’re not sure what foods you really like, experiment and pay attention to the sensory qualities of foods and your taste buds. Tribole and Resch suggest focusing on a food’s taste, texture, aroma, appearance, temperature and volume.
If you’re still not sure, ask yourself these questions, according to the authors: What food aroma might appeal to me right now? How will the food taste? Do I want something sweet, salty or sour? Do I want something light — like a salad — heavy — a bowl of pasta — or in between? How will my stomach feel?
3. Make the experience of eating more enjoyable. Savoring your food is one way to make eating a more enjoyable experience. For instance, Tribole and Resch suggest giving yourself time to eat a meal; sitting down rather than standing; taking a few breaths before eating; eating slowly; and tasting every bite. Also, keep a variety of foods in your home, and “eat when gently hungry rather than when overhungry.”
4. Don’t settle for foods you don’t really like. According to Tribole and Resch, “One of the biggest assets of being an Intuitive Eater is the ability to toss aside food that isn’t to your liking.”
For instance, one of their clients was at a banquet that served salad, chicken, veggies and pasta. When she tasted everything, she noticed that she lettuce was soggy and the dressing was subpar; the veggies were way too buttery.
During the client’s dieting days, she would’ve eaten the salad and veggies — and been unsatisfied and gone home looking for other foods. That day, however, she stopped eating the salad and veggies, and savored the chicken and pasta, which she found to be delicious.
5. Check in with yourself periodically. Ask yourself on a regular basis if the food still tastes good. Remember that you can have this food at any time. So if you aren’t satisfied any more, just stop eating and leave it for later, according to the authors.
Do you enjoy eating? What’s helped you regain the pleasure of eating?