If I asked you what your favorite foods were would you be able to answer right away? Now think about how often you eat those foods-- is it often? Or do you only have them on special occasions? Eating foods that are satisfying plays a big role in the way we eat and how much we eat. Often, when we eat foods that are "healthy" but we don't actually enjoy them we end up eating MORE to try to find satisfaction. There are several factors that dictate when we decide to stop eating but 2 of the big ones are: Fullness & Satisfaction. Fullness is a physical feeling. It's usually felt in your stomach and you feel like you don't want to take another bite. Satisfaction, however, is more of an emotional feeling. It's the way you feel at the end of a meal that hit the spot. If you eat until your full but not satisfied your brain is programmed to keep searching for something satisfying. Think of a time when you had a meal that wasn't as good as you expected. I think of a night when I tried a new recipe I was really excited about only for it to be just ok. I ate it because that's what was for dinner and I wasn't making something else but I very much remember thinking about what I was going to have for a snack before bed. I was FULL but I was far from SATISFIED.
Let's dive into a few ways you can feel more full & satisfied from the foods you're eating!
Ask Yourself What You Really Enjoy Eating
If you have a history of dieting or a rocky relationship with food this one can be tough. You may not know what you actually like because you're so used to picking whatever you think is the healthiest. Take a few minutes, sit down with a pen and paper, and start writing down foods you ENJOY. It's 100% ok if there are healthy foods like fruits and veggies on there. This isn't about telling you to eat all the cookies and ice cream you want. It's about figuring out what YOU enjoy and not what someone on social media, TV, your friends told you to eat to be healthy.
In our society being busy seems to be worn like a badge of honor and we carry this over to our meals as well. When you eat quickly you're not able to fully enjoy what you're eating. Which takes me back to fullness vs satisfaction. You may feel full from that meal you ate but if you inhaled it you're not likely to feel satisfied. We make time for EVERYTHING else except ourselves. If you even just spent 5 minutes less on social media daily and dedicated that to doing something positive for your health, like giving yourself more time to eat, the benefits there are huge. Slowing down also allows your gut to tell your brain that it's full and it's time to stop eating. Eating fast tends to lead to over eating.
Plan Meals That Include These Foods
This one may sound like a no brainer BUT if you're not planning ahead for meals and just grabbing whatever you can find laying around--it's unlikely that you're going to eat something you enjoy or give yourself the time to do that. I was scrambling to put lunch together one day in between calls with clients and I had a sandwich and a salad. I was going to put cheese on my salad and for a second I decided against it because I didn't have time. And then I paused and thought about how much MORE satisfying that salad would be with cheese on it and that it would also take me all of 30 seconds to do it. These little choices that we pass over (adding cheese, topping a dish with some fresh herbs, adding more color for visual appeal, etc..) make a big difference in how satisfied we feel with our meal. Having a plan helps to make sure that the foods you enjoy will get consumed on a more regular basis.
Don't Be Afraid To Eat Foods You Enjoy
Being healthy looks different for everyone. Your favorite foods may be someone's least favorite and that's ok. We're not meant to be clones of each other. Different is good. If you struggle with food rules, a history of dieting, or a rocky relationship with food--get on the list to be the first to know about our upcoming Intuitive Eating Program (you'll also get an exclusive discount) where you'll learn how to find freedom and confidence with how you fuel your body.
Kayla Fitzgerald is a Registered Dietitian & Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor and founder of Endurance Nutrition located in Charleston, South Carolina. She works with clients 1:1, through small group coaching, and self guided programs. Her goal is to help you fuel your body for whatever the day has in store whether it's a 100 mile race or getting through the work day.