Principle #6 Discover the Satisfaction Factor

This week on my podcast Diet Culture Dropout I review Intuitive Eating principle six which is discover the satisfaction factor. I dive into this principle with a dietitian colleague Erin Jenkins.

To catch the full podcast episode click here.

Why is having satisfaction with food important?

As humans we have an affinity to tasty and satisfying foods. If we settle on eating an unappetizing meal we may continue to eat in the absence of hunger to meet this unmet desire. We may be in the kitchen ping ponging between different flavour profiles or textures. When we eat foods that are truly satisfying we may eat smaller portions, increase our psychological and biological health. It has been shown that people who live in France (the experts at food satisfaction) have the third lowest rates of heart disease. Despite eating very energy dense foods. The key is having an enjoyable eating experience without judgements or applying morality to food.

So how do I apply this principle?

I always encourage clients to start off by asking themselves “what do you really want to eat?” This is meant to cue you to think along the lines of:

  • Sensory considerations. Think about what taste sounds appealing in this moment. Is it buttery, rich, salty, smokey, hot, bland or mild? What textures are you desiring? Is it crunchy, greasy, thick, soft or flakey? What aromas are enticing? Nothing beats walking into a house with garlic and onions sizzling on the stove top.
  • Ask yourself what temperature of food is enticing? If you are a frozen Canadian right now likely a warm comfort food hits the spot. Or if your a beach goer does something cold and sweet sound more satisfying?
  • Consider the appearance of the food. Are you itching for a colourful, diverse, large, small or bland assortment of foods?
  • Then reflect on your capacity and the volume of food your desiring. Think about the volume soon to be experienced by your stomach. Different foods digest at different speeds. Are you looking for food to sustain you for a long time or something light to get you through a quick meeting.

Once you take some time to reflect about your desire, do the best to make it happen. If you are craving a poutine and settle for a stir fry you will still be craving a poutine after.



Discover the satisfaction factor



What is the impact of hunger and fullness?

We have all likely experienced feeling hangry. A new trendy word that describes feeling angry and hungry at the same time. This is when the drive and desire to eat is intense. Being hangry is when we at the extreme end of the hunger spectrum and is also called primal hunger. When we are in this state it is very difficult to regulate your emotions and body experience. All possibility of finding true satisfaction from your meal is removed by this urgency to get food in quick. As my mom would call it “you inhale your food.” This is not the time to discover the satisfaction factor.

When we are reaching a state of comfortable fullness there is a last bite threshold. This is the point where your body gets a cue and your satisfaction in what you are eating will begin to diminish. Therefore, fullness can quickly diminish the satisfying experience of the meal.


Your Eating environment impacts the satisfaction

When you eat meals and snacks without regard to your environment the satisfaction of the experience can diminish. Ways you can discover the satisfaction factor could be by:

  • considering how much time do you set for meals
  • sitting down to eat at a routine place
  • minimizing distractions or multitasking
  • eating with others if this is supportive
  • eating alone if that is safer
  • removing clutter from the designated area
  • using special plates, utensils, napkins, or placemats
  • adding musics or flowers

In the past, when I worked with seniors in the community you could see enormous differences in food volume, nutrient density and food satisfaction when they ate with family and friends. My recommendations quickly turned into eat with loved ones. For some, there is something very supportive and powerful when we sit down and share a meal together.




Satisfaction is the hub of intuitive eating

So once we break free of diet culture, make peace with food and have a neutral relationships with all food can we begin to start having more satisfaction with our meals. Most people who struggle with this principle usually have not made peace with food entirely. In the fury of being thin and healthy it is often overlooked getting pleasure and satisfaction from food. Food rules take you away from what you are craving and desiring.

When food is just food the eating experiences are endless. When you eat what you really want you will find that it takes much less food to hit that savour spot. But this is not always the case for everyone. I also want to share that not every single meal and snack can be the most satisfying experience and that is okay. Start by applying these consideration to one meal a week and build from there.

Lastly, I will leave you with one of my most enjoyable eating experiences. It was in highschool when my dear friend invited six of my closest friends over to her house for dinner. Her mom was throwing us a dinner party to share their beautiful Indian cuisine. I had never before tried Indian food and was so curious. I will never forget the flavour explosion I experienced, learning how to eat with naan bread and the opportunity to eat authentic dishes made with so much love. Since that day I have added Indian cuisine to my favorites list.


So I leave you to ponder about a previously meaningful eating experience. What about it allowed you to discover the satisfaction factor? I would love to hear below!


Don’t forget to hear the full podcast episode on this principle!

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    Atheana Brown is a Registered Dietitian who specializes in disordered eating, body image, intuitive eating, and family nutrition. Her mission is to break the generational cycles of dieting and body shame.

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