How to Build Satisfying Meals and Snacks
Recall a pleasurable dining experience. What foods and flavors did you enjoy? What was the environment like? Who were your dining companions, if any? How did you feel?
Today, we’re talking all about how to build satisfying meals and snacks! If you’ve been submerged in diet mentality, it might be difficult to remember the last time you enjoyed a pleasurable dining experience.
When I was in the thick of diet mentality, dining experiences were the opposite of pleasurable. Food tasted bland, and if it tasted delicious, I was afraid I would eat too much. It was typical of me to override what I wanted to eat with what I thought I should be eating. Consider the following scenarios for why this doesn’t work:
When we ignore what we want to eat, we’re left unsatisfied and searching for more.
Scenario #1: You’re craving a sandwich for lunch, but your current diet plan (or subconscious diet rule) indicates you should have a salad. You eat a light salad that temporarily provides some bulk in your stomach, but you’re still looking for that something more. You stand in your pantry and eat some crackers, but that doesn’t do the trick. Next, you eat a few spoonfuls of peanut butter…still no satisfaction. Your stomach feels uncomfortably full now, but you aren’t satisfied.
When we eat what we want, it may take less food to feel both full and satisfied.
Scenario #2: You’re craving a sandwich for lunch, and you remind yourself that you have unconditional permission to eat what you want. You begin eating when you’re hungry. The first few bites are extremely flavorful and savored. You check in with yourself halfway through the meal and notice that you are beginning to feel full. A few more bites of your side salad and you feel both full and satisfied. You move on with your day.
Disclaimer: it’s okay if you desire a salad, too! This is merely an example 🙂
Notice the difference? The intuitive eater in scenario #2 listens to food preferences, levels of hunger and fullness, and savors the flavors. Asking, “what do I want to eat?” opens the door to satisfaction.
Fullness vs. Satisfaction
In Principle #5: Feel Your Fullness, we explored fullness as an internal physical sensation. At comfortable fullness, it may feel like a settled stomach. If past the point of comfortable fullness, physical sensations might include bloatedness or stomach pains.
Satisfaction goes beyond physical sensation and includes contentedness at the emotional level. Satisfaction is the feeling when you’re no longer looking for something more–when you eat what hits the spot. Furthermore, satisfaction is not limited to the end of the meal; it’s present throughout the entire dining experience. It’s like listening to your favorite song. You enjoy the song as you’re actively listening to it. Each verse carries a unique splendor. The same goes for eating appetizing foods. Each bite can be a satisfying experience when you tune into the full flavor, texture, and aroma of food.
Here’s another example to illustrate the difference between fullness and satisfaction: if you eat a large bowl of greens and raw veggies, chances are you’re going to feel physically full. The veggie’s fiber will take up space in your stomach. However, you might be lacking satisfaction. To leverage satisfaction, add a hard-boiled egg for some protein, avocado for creaminess and healthy fat, toasted chickpeas for some crunch, or fresh berries for a pop of color and burst of sweetness!
Set the Stage for Satisfying Meals and Snacks
- Ask what you really want to eat. Ask yourself: What food sounds good to me? Am I craving something warm or cold? Do I want something lighter or denser? Am I looking for something savory, salty, sweet, or spicy? If you don’t have access to exactly what you want to eat, try something close to it. For example, if I’m craving eggs and toast for breakfast, but I’m out of bread–I may still eat eggs with sautéed potatoes or a side of oatmeal.
- Set the environment. When possible, take the time to sit down for your meal. Plate your food versus eating it out of the container. You might even light a candle or play music! Create a warm environment free of tension. If eating with others, enjoy company and light conversation. Try your best to eliminate distractions.
- Engage all 5 senses. See, feel, hear, smell, and taste your food. This might look like: noticing the full spectrum of colors on your plate, feeling the texture of food against your mouth, listening for an audible crunch, savoring the aromas, and naming each flavor you pick up–sweet, sour, salty, etc. Take the time to chew and taste your food.
Discovering the satisfaction factor is not only saying YES to foods you love but also saying NO to foods you don’t love. Evelyn Tribole and Elyse Resch sum it up best with their quote:
“If you don’t love it, don’t eat it, and if you love it, savor it!”
It’s your birthright to enjoy pleasurable experiences in life, and food is one of them! In case you haven’t heard that lately, repeat it to yourself again: food is allowed to be a pleasurable experience! Take this post as your invitation to discover the satisfaction factor. Check out Everglow’s Recipes satisfying meals & snacks!