Can food be both satisfying AND nourishing? In my world, YES, is the short answer. Most of the food I put in my body MUST be both satisfying AND nourishing. This has become non-negotiable, but more about this later…..
I’ve done my fair share of restrictive eating. Sometimes for weight, sometimes for “health” (but honestly, until the last few years, mostly for weight). I can totally eat some flavorless low calorie or low carb food like stuff / meal replacements. I can eat plain chicken breast and raw veggies. I CAN eat just about anything, at least, for awhile….then a holiday comes up, or its my birthday, or I just can’t eat one more replacement bar. I miss the joy in eating. My hunger becomes so DEEP- now I know it is a hunger for satisfaction.
“What was the last time you ate something really satisfying?” This seemingly simple question stunned me. I was eating the same tired food every day. Protein and kale sauteed for breakfast (a bit of salt but not much else for flavor in that one), Salad with chicken for lunch (olive oil for dressing) and a piece of protein with veggies for dinner- usually overcooked. I had become complacent, and super bored. Due to my health issues, eating things like cake (my favorite) was too painful, so I didn’t stray from my super strict diet too much or too often, but I wasn’t happy. I realized I couldn’t continue eating this way forever.
That simple question was planted like a seed in my brain. Turns out it was like the seed of a tree. It took root. The roots began to grow deep and wide- expanding into a whole new way of thinking about food. That seed continued to grow and develop. It now supports a satisfying and nourishing relationship with food. I finally saw why I had never been successful in making long term changes in my diet. Even having the motivation of avoiding painful medical issues, I could only do the rigid, boring diet for a few months at a time. I could only deny myself satisfaction for so long.
Now I listen to what my body wants. Sometimes it wants blueberries- full of antioxidants and some carbs, not to mention delicious! Sometimes it wants potato chips, not surprising as I just learned that I need more fat and carbs in my diet- man, my body is smart! It doesn't mean I eat anything I feel like eating. I have learned what foods are worth it and what foods just aren’t. I still avoid gluten and eggs- just too painful and harmful for me due to my medical issues.
What else does it mean? I regularly look for ways to be satisfied by my meals. I learned what is actually satisfying for me. Flavor, temperature, cooking method, done-ness, and even what I eat out of matters. I love warm food in bowls best. Turns out, I love my meat and veggie breakfast now that I add some fresh grated ginger and or orange-ginger finishing salt. I mix it up now as well, sometimes use mexican spices, cilantro and chili-lime finishing salt or salsa. I add healthy fat in to a lot of my food- it adds so much flavor and gives my body a sense of staity. I’m more cautious when cooking, not to overcook my food- that just ruins it for me. Small hacks and some flexibility made a huge difference.
Asking myself if a food will be satisfying before eating it and planning to eat foods that are satisfying, has been life-changing. Not only did it allow me to eat more yummy foods, it also reduced the desire for foods that didn’t make me feel well. This was two-fold. I was much more satisfied and felt less deprived. When I feel satisfied, I just don’t want junk as much. It made me pickier too! I really only eat food that is truly satisfying. I now ask myself if less nutritious foods will actually be satisfying before I eat them (picked over mac-n-cheese out of a box, I’m looking at you. Greasy, cheap, stale donuts, you too). Have you ever found yourself eating birthday cake a kids party, and thought, this is actually gross….why am I even eating this?? Now if I find myself eating something that isn’t satisfying, most often, I stop!
Recently, in Europe, the most satisfying meal I had was actually Dover Sole. I would have never guessed fish would be my favorite meal in Europe. It was soooo tasty and fresh. I think they probably used a cup of butter (yummm) but otherwise the meal was extremely healthy. It was served at the perfect temperature. We were in a beautiful restaurant, on the patio on a beautiful warm night. There was the most lovely music playing. I was surrounded by my family. I walked back to our place feeling totally nourished and satisfied. I didn’t even want dessert.
So back to the question- can food be nourishing AND satisfying? I require it to be. It is the way to a better diet, more freedom and life-long sustainable change. I hope this has inspired you to begin to make satisfaction with food a priority in your life.
Download your free hunger scale now!
The first step to healing our relationship with food is reconnecting with the signals our body gives us. One of the ways to do that is by checking in with your hunger before you eat. Here's my spin on the traditional hunger scale.