Emotional Eater to Empowered Eater in 5 steps
I planned a special day with my daughter this past weekend. This is something I like to do with all 3 of my girls so that I can have some bonding time with them and share in an experience with them. When I asked my 12 year old what she wanted to do, she remembered a time we went to a unlimited chocolate buffet in Boston and asked if we could go there together.
My first reaction was:
OMG, I am so excited to do this with her. The desserts are amazing and there is always a really fun theme too.
My second thought was:
OMG, I’m totally not stressed out about this. And this is a fairly new phenomenon for me.
You see, If she had asked me in the past to do this I would have prepared for 2 weeks ahead by exercising even more than usual and basically starving myself for the same amount of time, just to give myself permission to partake in a little bit of the buffet. I’d be very judicious about what I would choose and would deny myself more than I’d allow indulgences. I’d feel scared and guilty the whole time and worry about the consequences showing up a few days later on the scale. I’d be missing out on the entire experience with my daughter and just living in my head.
I believed that even just looking at the buffet would turn me into a weight gain machine and I would avoid those situations at almost any cost. I would not be excited for it but instead would be worried and mistrusting in myself that I could handle it and not overeat or binge.
I recently learned one of the reasons why we always have room for dessert. It has to do with sensory specific satiety. As humans, our taste buds are actually quite sensitive and can saturate very quickly thereby leading us to continue eating in the false hope that our 30th bite will be as powerful, exciting and rewarding as our first. It’s just not possible. And we actually need a refractory period before we can garner flavor bombs again inside our mouths.
One of the things that makes buffets so exciting, however, is the variety it can bring us. The only thing that can regenerate our taste buds or have them respond at all after a period of time of eating is to introduce a new flavor component to the mix: something salty, sweet, bitter, sour, hot or savory. This is one of the reasons why we always have room for dessert, even after a big meal. Our taste buds are ripe for a new, sweet flavor after a savory meal and there can be a small jolt again in our gustatory region (mouths). Alas, that too is short-lived and we will continue in vein to recapture the delight of that first 1 or two bites.
So, back to this Chocolate buffet…. Wanna see what we were facing?
But, because I’m now a relaxed and empowered eater, here’s how I managed it.
1. I honored my body and appetite by eating a macro-nutrient balanced lunch before going
2. I checked out all the offerings at the buffet before grabbing a plate so I could be clear and judicious about what I put on it so I’d make sure I’d truly enjoy it.
3. I kept an abundance mindset and did not feel food FOMO because I knew it was all available to me.
4. I ate very slowly and mindfully allowing my mouth and tongue to truly notice and savor the flavors
5. I checked in with my body and noticed when my taste buds were saturated and stopped when my body gave me the cues to stop
It was a glorious experience! I got to taste many different things and enjoyed every second of it but I also trusted myself to stop when I was sated and full and not go beyond that. I didn’t have to go beyond it because these foods are available to me any time I want. I no longer and refuse to ever place arbitrary food rules and subjective portions on myself again.
And it’s made all the difference.
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