When you aren’t really hungry, eating too fast or eating to soothe emotions, do you actually taste your food? I’m guessing the answer is no. When we do not allow ourselves to be fully present, we miss the experience of the food and it is much harder to feel satisfied. The sensation of fullness brings a sense of peace and calm for many of us. When we aren’t using food as fuel (it’s intention) it is harder to determine when we have had enough. Here are a few things to think about:
- Are you just eating the food because it is there? We are visual creatures, so the sight of food can often trick us into thinking we need more when we don’t. This is particularly true if we aren’t paying attention to our fullness signals. Try removing food if you are going to stay at the table to socialize. At social events, sit down away from the food. Otherwise, you will reach for extra bites without realizing it.
- What are you feeling? What emotions are you experiencing as you eat? In my experience, feeling lonely, stressed, angry, sad and shameful are hot ticket emotions that lead to using food to cope and escape. Before eating, check in to make sure you aren’t trying to avoid what you are feeling.
- What are you hoping to feel? Are you using food as a tool to avoid, escape, numb yourself, feel soothed or comforted? While some amount of avoidance is ok on a temporary basis, it often becomes overpowering and we forget that our emotions won’t hurt us. How can you take care of your needs without food? Try sitting with the emotions you are trying to avoid. Often just paying attention and acknowledging how we feel brings the intensity down to a manageable level.
- Rate fullness and taste. Rate your hunger on a 1-10 scale (1 is famished and 10 is so full you are sick) and how good the food tastes 1-10 (1 worst and 10 best thing you’ve ever eaten). Re-rate both hunger and taste after eating 25% of your food, then 50%. You will notice that as your fullness goes up, your food won’t taste as good. As soon as it doesn’t taste as good, stop eating. You can always have more when you are hungry again. I tell my clients that hunger is seasoning your food. When you are hungry, food tastes delicious and perfectly seasoned. When you aren’t hungry, it can be bland.
- Be fully present. Pay attention to how your food looks and smells. Notice textures. Allow all of your senses to be present. Savor each bite!