Overeating and Feeling Satisfied | TMOHP Episode 063

Today I want to talk with you about something you may think goes together - overeating and feeling satisfied. Our first thought is that these two things are inextricably linked. We overeat so we can feel satisfied. But is this true? Or is it a trick your thinking and habits are playing on you? Did you know that you can create peace with food and freedom from overeating without sacrificing your feeling of satisfaction?

It’s true.

Diet mentality and deprivation mentality won’t help you feel satisfied or joyful about eating, but freedom mentality is a whole different ball game. Let’s talk about what eating to REALLY feel satisfied might look like for you.

In this episode:

  • What to do if your brain tells you there are never enough cookies or that you have to eat all the cookies to feel satisfied
  • Holiday baking and freedom from overeating
  • Ceremonies of pleasure

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Featured on the show:

  • Not sure why you’re overeating, or what your Hidden Hungers are? take the free Hidden Hungers Quiz
  • Your Missing Peace  is my 16-week program for women ready to stop overeating and emotional eating for good. Enrollment is open and NOW is the perfect time to join us! Go here to learn more
  • Private Coaching. One-on-one coaching is for you if you’re looking for something that’s wholly individualized and specific to your situation. Openings are limited. Learn more here.

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Full episode transcript:

Welcome back to the podcast, and if you're a first time listener, welcome. I'm so glad you're here. Today I want to talk with you about something that you might think goes together, overeating and feeling satisfied. Our first thought is usually that these two things are inextricably linked.

We overeat so we can feel satisfied, right? But is this true? Or is it a trick that you're thinking and your habits are playing on you? Today let's talk about this. Let's start with a food that you tell yourself you love to eat a lot of, and since it's the holiday season when I'm recording this, I'm going to go with cookies. Let's go with cookies. How many cookies equal a delightful, satisfying experience?

I'm assuming you like cookies, and it's like I said, definitely becoming the season for all things cookie. If not, then just replace cookie with any food that you adore overeating. So what's the answer that pops into your head? How many cookies are delightful? How many cookies? The way your brain tackles this question can be fascinating. So be curious and be compassionate. Be kind to yourself just to ask the question. No shoulds, no expectations, no food rules. How many cookies equals a delightful experience?

I've had this conversation before and here's what I've seen happen. For many people who have spent time in battles with food and the scale and overeating, the answer comes almost, well, it comes quickly, almost reactively, right? And the answer is, oh, my delightful experience is as many cookies as I want. It's delightful when I can eat as many cookies as I want. I want all the cookies. And your inner voice might joke with you, or it might not even be a joke with, you know, saying there are never enough cookies. What do you mean how many cookies? There are never enough.

If this is you, I want you to take a deep breath, take another deep breath, and then I want you to imagine yourself taking a couple steps back from the question to get a little bit more perspective. How many cookies equal a delightful experience? And your brain says, I want all the cookies. There are never enough cookies. In that moment, that might be true. And telling yourself this, that you can truly have however much you want, might feel truly delightful and delectable and like the most satisfying experience in a very specific kind of way. But let's be clear, when you answer the question in that way, you are talking about what feels delightful in that moment.

So let's take things further. How many cookies provide true satisfaction? Remember, you can use cookies or ice cream or potato chips or whatever you want, right? Whatever food is delightful. How many of them provide true satisfaction? If you want that answer, if you want to truly feel satisfied, it is important to look deep into the moment and past the moment.

Looking deep into the moment means looking at what you really, truly experience when you eat the cookies. What is your usual experience? Do you create an environment for satisfaction? Do you set yourself up to have a delightful experience that has the potential to leave you feeling satisfied? And like you got the enjoyment that you wanted? Or is eating all the cookies and that feeling of never having enough cookies or that freedom is getting to eat as many cookies as you want? Is that really the start of a path that is more about numbing or doing something rebelliously while also feeling guilty? Is it a delightful experience? When you look deep into that moment, are you creating true satisfaction?

This is important to look at. And when you are answering questions, when you are trying to create an experience of real satisfaction, it is also important to look past that moment. I know a lot of people who fall in the, there are never enough cookies camp who also say that an hour after eating all the cookies, they don't feel satisfied. They feel kind of sick or physically uncomfortable, and maybe they feel guilty or frustrated with themselves.

Satisfaction isn't an impulse. You can write that one down. Satisfaction isn't an impulse. Satisfaction takes into account how we feel emotionally and physically. Satisfaction includes the consequences that we create for ourselves, whether they are pleasure or satisfaction or fullness or disappointment. Or even something else entirely.

It might seem silly and trivial on the surface, but this is a question worth asking. What does satisfaction look like for you when you eat a cookie? Or whatever that holiday treat or that favorite food happens to be? What does satisfaction look like for you when you eat that cookie?

I had this conversation, this exact conversation with a client who loves to enjoy her holiday baking. Holiday baking is a whole thing for her. She loves to bake and she loves to share and also to enjoy and eat her own baking. And we were having this conversation because that is not something she's interested in giving up. Peace with food and freedom from overeating do not mean that she stops being a baker. It is a joy in her life and enjoying the things that she creates, the baked goods that's also something that she wants to keep a part of her, of her life and her relationship with food.

So we had this conversation. What is satisfaction? What does it look like for you with your baked goods? It took some time, right? Right. We have the reactive thought, oh, there's just not enough this stuff in the world. I just love it. I want to eat all the things. I enjoy the holidays so much because they're all the things and I give myself the freedom to have it all.

So again, taking a deep breath and taking a couple steps back from that and really thinking about satisfaction was important here. And here's what she came up with: for her satisfaction includes anticipating the treat. The time before she has the treat. Then savoring the taste and then feeling a pleasant satiation, right? Feeling pleasantly full, but not uncomfortable afterward. So when she pictured her perfect, you know, ideal experience of satisfaction, it was anticipating it, enjoying and savoring it while she ate it, and then feeling pleasantly full, but also comfortable in her body when she was done.

We kept talking about it because why wouldn't you? It's so interesting how little we talk about satisfaction, especially within diet mentality, right? In diet mentality, there are all these shoulds. You should feel full. This should be a portion, this should be enough. You shouldn't be hungry. Now in diet mentality, you're not really taught well you're not taught at all to think about, what do I want? What am I hungry for? How can I really enjoy this food?

We kept going with satisfaction. Satisfaction for this particular client meant means still enjoying what she ate. It means feeling energized. It means feeling comfortable for the rest of the day, not feeling overstuffed and lethargic, or feeling that blood sugar, you know, madness that can happen when you eat too many cookies or baked goods to feel satisfied.

This conversation about satisfaction was really powerful for her. Because, well, a couple different things. First, she realized she didn't know right away she had to stop and think about what was satisfying. What was truly a delightful experience with her baked goods? And the second thing that she realized as she got this clarity. Was that she had not been getting real satisfaction from this food that she loves, that she'd been eating it. She hadn't been fully enjoying it. In fact, she'd been kind of numbing out and, and eating it quickly because she felt so guilty and all these other thoughts that were going on. And then she was eating more of it than felt physically comfortable. She was not creating the satisfaction, which was what she really craved.

And you know, she's not alone in this. It is so common. That's why I started this episode the way that I did, because we tell ourselves that overeating and satisfaction go hand in hand. We tell ourselves that overeating is doing this fabulous thing for ourselves because it's allowing us this satisfaction maybe for food, maybe for the delicious holiday treats or the baked goods. Maybe for things our hidden hungers that we aren't getting in our life and we're using food, as a way to compensate for those things. But honestly, most of the time in the years and years and years that I've been doing this work, in the years and years and years, I've been talking to people about overeating and emotional eating, and when I look at my own eating habits, overeating and satisfaction do not tend to go together. In fact, it's often the opposite.

So back to my client. She asked herself these questions. She really thought about what were the ingredients for satisfaction and how many cookies? Back to that original question, how many cookies create a truly delightful, satisfying experience? With the clarity that she pulled together for herself, and again, everybody's answer is different, but here's what she came up with when she thought about the anticipating and the savoring and the pleasant feeling of fullness that wasn't too full and what she wanted with her energy and comfort for the rest of the day. She decided that satisfaction usually came with one or two or sometimes one and a half she said Cookies.

So my client took this new information, this clarity, about one to two cookies being that range of true satisfaction, and she decided to experiment with that. What would it be like to enjoy her baked goods within that, within that cocoon, within that framework of what felt truly satisfying.

And remember, it wasn't just about or only about the amount of the cookies, it was about allowing herself to anticipate having the cookies. And you know, part of that was taking away the guilt and the self blame. It was permission to anticipate them with joy and interest and permission to fully taste them instead of telling herself she shouldn't be eating them while she's eating them as quickly as possible, so she doesn't register that she's eating them.

It is allowing herself a part of this recipe is allowing herself to notice when she is comfortably full. So she decided to experiment with that. And how interesting is it? I think it is fascinating how often we have to create a situation, a deliberate situation, where we stop and pay attention in order to find out how much food really feels good?

Overeating and satisfaction don't go hand in hand. Being present with your eating is what creates satisfaction. And what is, what allows you to create that experience, that delicious, enjoyable experience with food. Do you know how many cookies or whatever the treat is, do you know how many of them create that experience for you? And do you know the other ingredients that need to go into that experience to give you the kind of satisfaction that would bring you joy and delight.

I have a group program called Your Missing Peace, where we focus on ending habits of overeating and emotional eating. And there was a group member in, that program who shared an idea that I absolutely love around this idea of satisfaction.

She calls it, I love what she calls it, she calls it a ceremony of pleasure. She is also a baker who loves the traditional family treats that she creates this time of year. And she decided, you might have noticed, so she's already called this thing a ceremony of pleasure. She has a way with words and she decided, you know what, Melissa? I want to bake my cake and eat it too, and have peace with food. So we talked about satisfaction. We took those steps back. What is, what is satisfaction deep in the moment and beyond the moment? And here's what she came up with.

For her satisfaction involves making a clear choice about what and when she's going to eat. Which is different from her old pattern, her former pattern of just mindlessly scooping up a little crumb or eating that broken piece of cookie and just eating it because it was there without, without any thought or with very little thought at all. Satisfaction includes being present and being attentive so that she can savor, really taste the food that she wants to enjoy, that she has worked so hard with these intricate recipes to create.

Satisfaction involves choosing, making choices about the moment and the setting that are going to make eating most enjoyable. So she decided that during the holiday season she wanted to focus on creating these ceremonies of pleasure. And by creating these ceremonies, she is going to honor the food that she eats and honor the experience of eating this beautiful food.

We all get to decide what satisfaction looks like for, you know, for each of us. It's a unique thing. What works for her is sometimes still enjoying the crumbs and those broken off bits. She doesn't want to give that up, but what she decided that it's about putting them on a plate and sitting down with them so she can really have a moment. And that's what she said. She said, I want to have a moment. I want to have a ceremony of pleasure.

So here's what I want to leave you with. How many cookies provide you true satisfaction? And what does that satisfaction include for you? What would your ceremony of pleasure look like? What would it look like if you wanted to fully and deeply honor and enjoy your favorite treat?

Here's my challenge for you. I want to challenge you to play with these questions this season. Play with these questions, play with creating more satisfaction. More joy in eating in your life. And see what happens.

I'll talk to you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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