What is the Satisfaction Factor? (August 2021)
In the previous two articles I discussed “What is intuitive eating?” and “Who is the food police?” In this article, I want to share some basics about satisfaction and “the satisfaction factor.”
What do you think of when you hear the word “satisfaction”? Many people think of satisfaction in their life (from personal to work), satisfaction in personal relationships, satisfaction with their personal environment, satisfaction with what they are eating, and/or satisfaction with the food choices they have made. There are many areas that we are satisfied or dissatisfied with. As someone is moving away from diet culture and working on themselves internally, the question of satisfaction often comes up.
When I teach clients about Intuitive Eating I often ask, “Do you like what you are eating?” and “Is this meal or snack emotionally or physically satisfying?” We can be physically filled up but not emotionally satisfied if we don’t choose the foods that we truly want to eat.
As a certified intuitive eating counselor, I teach clients to be present when they are eating, because when we multitask while eating it’s often difficult to truly taste our food and engage with our meal, which makes it challenging to achieve satisfaction from what we are eating. To reach complete satisfaction, I recommend selecting what you truly want to eat when you are hungry, but not ravenous. This will make it easier to notice if the choice you made truly satisfied you.
All too often, clients are afraid to honor their cravings because they believe they will want that food all the time and won’t crave “healthy” foods. Actually, when we break away from diet mentality and start eating what we truly want, we are “legalizing” a food that we have viewed as “forbidden,” and that can certainly be scary at first. When someone gives themselves permission to eat a cookie and they continue to give themselves that permission over and over, cookies will begin to feel like a salad (meaning we won’t over think or judge our choice) and the thrill of cookies will begin to lessen.
The more we deny ourselves foods we enjoy, the more difficult it is to achieve satisfaction. I often hear clients tell me they really love “such and such.” I will ask them, “When the last time was you ate ‘such and such’?” It feels scary, but, ironically, when someone is able to move towards their brave space and have the courage to try the specific food the yearn for, they may find the food they “really loved” isn’t that delicious after all.
One suggestion to help yourself begin to achieve food satisfaction is to make a list of foods that you truly like. Think about the aroma of the food, the texture, the presentation and how the food tastes to you. Doing this before you start eating is helpful, because you can explore what the experience would be like and then experiment with the amount you need to eat to achieve satisfaction. I suggest doing this when you aren’t distracted by other things so your food can have your complete attention. Approaching your list from a neutral place instead of a judgmental place will help you not only get to know yourself better, but it will help you continue to identify and choose foods you truly crave and enjoy instead of choosing foods that others tell you that you “should” crave and enjoy. Over time, your food variety will increase, and you’ll learn how to savor your food instead of rushing through the eating experience.
I hope this gives you a better understanding of satisfaction and “The Satisfaction Factor” when we discuss life and Intuitive Eating.
Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch, Intuitive Eating, Fourth Edition, St. Martin’s, 2020: 123-149.