5 Ways to Find the Joy in Eating (cookies included)

Hello lovelies and happy 2018! This week has been long for me. Getting back from vacation, I basically hit the ground running and haven’t stopped (two job life). I am trying to focus on the basics – sleeping, eating good food, and going to yoga. Anyone have go-to tips for dealing with stress? I do that, and lists. I love lists. This is where everyone who knows me is rolling their eyes, but guys, they help! Anyways, I hope you had a great first week of January!

Also, as a reminder, just because everyone else is jumping on the bandwagon and going on a diet, does not mean you have to! If you’re thinking about adopting a new health behavior, ask yourself – what feels good for my body? And can I do this for the rest of my life? If the answer is no, find something else. Starting small is often the best way!

This week I wanted to talk about finding the joy in eating because I firmly believe that food should taste good.

Avocado toast, scrambled eggs, and grapefruit - shot from a side angle

As humans, we are hardwired to do things that bring us pleasure. Eating is one of those things.

More importantly – why eat rice cakes when you really want Cheetos? Why bake “healthier” items that are lower-sugar, low-fat, low-whatever, if you don’t enjoy it as much? Do you ever find yourself restricting a particular type of food, switch it with something else, and then over-eat it? Or end up eating the Cheetos at the end of the day?

My advice? Eat the Cheetos. Eat the butter-filled, normal sugar, white flour baked items. If you are more satisfied with your meal choices, it may decrease your cravings for certain foods later and you may actually eat less. Maybe not too, but that’s OK! Allow yourself to truly enjoy that treat as it is meant to be enjoyed.

Are you someone who sometimes avoids things you truly love to eat? Remember you are allowed to eat all foods, whenever and how much, and without penance.

5 ways to find joy in eating:

1. Ask, what do you really want to eat? How will those foods make you feel?

This is a really important question. If you want a veggie salad, how will you feel after? If you want black coffee, how will you feel after? Maybe you would feel better adding some carbohydrate to your salad because you may stay full longer. Maybe if you ate banana bread with your coffee, you wouldn’t feel shaky after.

Salt Lake City morning view of mountains

2. Question your senses.

  • What is the taste? Salty, sweet, bitter, umami, sour? Do you like it?
  • Do you enjoy the texture? I personally have a texture issue which is why I have a hard time (ok I can’t eat) a tomato by itself, but I love tomatoes in dishes. Do you want a chewy food? Crunchy? Something liquid?
  • What is the aroma like? Fresh bread anyone? Omgaaah. Sometimes simply the smell of something can help you to enjoy that food. Fresh coffee does it for me. If something smells good to you, you are more likely to eat it.
  • Does it look cool? Food appearance can really change things. If someone can make a dish look beautiful, think different colors and textures, you are probably more likely to eat it. Likewise, if you cook a brown dish, it may look less appetizing.
  • Temperature plays a role. Hot soup in a 100 degree summer? No thanks. Cold foods are often more appetizing in the summer, but not always. Take a second to ask what temp you would like your food to be.
  • How filling do you want the food to be? Do you want a bowl of warm pasta or something lighter in your stomach like fish? It’s all good.

3. Improve your eating experience!

  • Use some mindful eating techniques if you can, and if they are helpful for you.
  • Give yourself 15-20 minutes to enjoy your food.
  • Try and sit at a table.
  • Take a couple deep breaths before eating.
  • Take pauses between bites. Talk to people at the table, drink some water.
  • What flavor/texture does the food provide?
  • Where are you on the hunger scale?
  • Can you eat in a pleasant environment? I know this isn’t always possible, but maybe 10% of the time you are able to sit down and truly enjoy a meal, I highly recommend it.
  • Keep some variety in your house. Having several types of fruits, veggies, pasta, ice cream (yes), soup etc. is good so that you have some decision in what you want to eat.

Salmon, roasted potatoes, and brussel sprouts on a plate - shot from above

4. If you don’t love it, do you want to keep eating it?

I have mixed feelings about this. On one end, I think this can be super helpful at parties and buffets where there is a generous amount of food. Sometimes foods can look better than they actually taste, and in that case, if you can find something else delicious why eat it? I always feel like Starbucks is a good example of this as well (sorry guys). Their baked goods often look tastier than they actually are.

One the other hand, if you don’t have many choices and don’t particularly enjoy your meal/food, but don’t have access to other food, I would argue that you should eat something to avoid being starving later. This would make the most sense in honoring your body in the moment.

5. Check in with yourself.

Do this food still taste good? Satisfaction usually dwindles as you eat. Are you still hungry?

Hopefully some of these tips resonate with you! If you feel overwhelmed, I would suggest focusing on tip #1 – what do you want to eat and how will this make you feel?

Again, just a friendly remember that you have the right to enjoy food! You are not “bad” for eating all the chocolate, or cookies, or kale. And your eating doesn’t have to be perfect all the time. You are not messing up your entire day of eating if you have a cookie. You will probably find that life is a hell of a lot more enjoyable if you eat the foods you truly love. And I can always be your friendly dietitian supporting you from the sidelines.

Have a great week!



References: Intuitive Eating

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