Getting Satisfied

The buffet we had at my husband\'s 30th b-day this weekend. Satisfaction guaranteed...or gluttony?!
The buffet we had at my husband's 30th b-day this weekend. Satisfaction guaranteed...or gluttony?!
No, today’s post isn’t about what goes on behind closed doors.

But it is about satisfaction, and the air of entitlement I’ve felt when it comes to food since losing weight—which I feel has contributed to some of my disordered eating behaviors.

In many ways, I really do believe that ignorance is bliss. Granted, back when I didn’t worry about calories, I surely wasn’t the picture of health. But I also wasn’t obsessed.

To be honest, before Weight Watchers, I don’t know how I ate. I don’t remember; I just “ate.” Obviously I was chubby, so it was clearly “too much”.

But I know I didn’t think about food a lot. I surely didn’t weigh or measure anything, and I can guarantee I didn’t base my day around my meals.

I remember I used to drink two Snapples a day and have a peppermint-mocha and shortbread cookie after work at Caribou Coffee with one of my best friends a couple times a week. (What’s a calorie?!)

I don’t recall making breakfast a priority, and I ate lunch out most days (usually a sandwich from a café, or a salad). I didn’t cook much back then—I know that much!—so dinners were not planned in advance, and if an invitation sprang up, I jumped on it. Snacks were usually on a whim; I never kept food at work or in my purse for an “emergency”.

And while I can remember what being “stuffed” felt like (as in, falling into a post-Maggiano’s or Cheesecake Factory coma with friends), I honestly never thought about satisfaction levels or the emotional connection to food. It was just that: food.

I certainly didn’t view it as “fuel” like I do now. Or like a “necessary evil,” like how I label foods “good” and “bad” instead of realizing anything in moderation is ok; some choices are simply better than others.

Pre-Weight Watchers, I bet there were times where I left food on my plate or doggie-bagged something to take home, but none of that stands out in my mind.

What does stand out is that now, I get satisfied quickly. Perhaps too quickly. I get irked when my tummy is full and I still have a plate of pasta to work through and I know it was only a cup in total. I get annoyed when I’m at a party and the food looks so good, but I don’t have room and eat anyway (like this weekend!). I am envious when I see friends eating dessert even after a hearty meal, seemingly guilt-free. “They can do it, why can’t I?”

The irony of this is the most valuable tool I’ve incorporated into my life since starting Weight Watchers has been learning what an actual portion of food is. And now that I know, I want to enjoy it, to the fullest. I can safely say I don’t eat seconds of anything anymore–one portion is always enough (ok, except when we’re talking about chocolate or something I didn’t really need anyway!).

But at my size now, I simply don’t need the same amount of food I needed when I was heavier, even though I am significantly more active now. And that’s a pretty hard mental hurdle to overcome.

I’ve genuinely struggled with the fact that sometimes a serving size of even a healthy salad is too much for me. In fact, I don’t like to admit this, but I think deep down, I often eat past satisfaction because I *know* there are 6 points in X meal. And I feel “entitled” to all of it. This isn’t emotion-driven but rather habit-driven. Since it’s not “over-eating” I’d been able to justify it in my mind. But here’s the rub: if it’s past satisfaction, it is overeating!

To combat this, I switched over to the Core program; a primary tenet of Core is eating to satisfaction and not beyond—not worrying so much about portions. But even during my Core weeks/months, I still tended to feel entitled to a full serving, and didn’t really pay much attention to hunger queues.

I didn’t listen to my body to tell me when I was satisfied. I didn’t wait for the “sigh” so many describe feeling–even though I know I’ve felt it often, usually half-way through my meal. I can recognize it, but don’t always stop. (Incidentally, I have better control at restaurants than with my own cooking). Since I pack my own lunches, for example, I know what “should” satisfy me. But more often than not, I would find myself full on half. And quite frankly, that pissed me off!

I attribute this to the learned “Flex mentality,” which had me counting out 20 mini pretzels to “get” a 2-pt serving, or measuring out a cup of grapes for a portion. I’m convinced this mentality fueled my entitlement issues, because I’ve been programmed to know what “should” be an acceptable amount for me to eat.

So what am I going to do about it?

Well, my Weight Watchers week resets today, and I am going to try to consciously pay attention to hunger queues and satisfaction levels this week. In order to lose these last couple nagging pounds, I must accept that I need to simply be satisfied on less.

I need to come to terms with the notion that even the perfectly-portioned lunch I packed today might be more than I need … and that, likewise, other days I might need more to be satisfied–and shouldn’t feel bad about it.

Like someone on a stringent budget, I need to curb my “spending” if I want to “save” (i.e., lose). And hey, in this current economy, that’s really not such a bad idea. I’ll let you know how things are going on Friday.

How about you? Have you struggled with any entitlement issues? Do you find you are satisfied on significantly less now? Has it affected you mentally?

9 thoughts on “Getting Satisfied

  1. I don’t typically have these feelings anymore since I started intuitive eating but in times of stress or grand emotion they can rear their ugly head. I do find that I am satisfied on less food than a really thought I needed, it is pretty amazing.

  2. I need to get my hands on Intuitive Eating. I loved Beck’s book so I imagine I’d dig this one, too.

  3. There are a number of books to read, the one titled Intuitive Eating is pretty good. Also anything by Genene Roth is good as well. I just ordered one called DIet Survivors by Linda Moran, it had good reviews on Amazon.

  4. I’m on Core too, and I definitely struggle. I think using sparkpeople to track also hurts rather than helps. If I am under calories there, I use it as an excuse to eat.

  5. I’ve heard Geneen is very good. I’ve read some of her stuff in magazines before.

    Susan, that’s why I had to stop Sparkpeople!

  6. WOW.

    There you go again, inhabiting my head.
    Not much to add just to say;
    “Same thing over here, sweetness.”

  7. I am on the points system, Core frightens me because I am an emotional volume eater….and got to really figure that out.

    I found since I started Cameron’s “The Writer’s Diet” which really isn’t a diet, just a bunch of exercises to help keep you sane it’s really helping me become aware.

    I have always been a yo-yo dieter (since 10 thanks mom!) and an emotional eater since I was six and discovered that life was sweeter when I stuffed myself full of sweets. I used to have dreams of monsters that eat everything in sight…..I think that’s my shadow self.

  8. Just want to say that though igorance IS bliss to some degree in the dieting department, I do remember pre-WW, getting a salad at a restaurant because I wanted to “be healthy” for lunch — just a genuine desire to eat lighter because I wasn’t so hungry. and with that eating lots of oily dressing and blue cheese crumbles and focaccia bread because I thought they were healthy too (and servings sizes? I had no clue where to even begin). or when I would opt for fro yo because I thought that was healthier but then douse it in hot fudge sauce because that can’t be that bad for you, right? I do look back on the time I didn’t care what I ate sometimes, but it’s just so much nicer knowing just HOW to be healthy and what healthy foods really are and what a servings size really is. and I’ve always had the desire to be healthy, so knowing just HOW to do that (the key) is wonderful. implementing it all the time is another thing, though. but I’ll keep plugging along.

    Beck’s has absolutely opened my mind to just how to think and eat like a thin person — like someone who has never struggled with this stuff. granted it’s all fresh in my head now, but I tackled the book in its entirety this weekend and she really knows how to describe what being full should feel like. I’m finally tuning into my stomach and not putting it through hell — I don’t want it to be in pain. I want it to expand gently over the course of a long meal and I want to feed it nutrious, satiating foods. I don’t want to expand it to the point where it hurts. I don’t want to make it work harder than it already has to. It’s my tummy and I love it.

  9. Lydia, I’m not familiar with that one! Will have to check it out.

    Cathy, I could ditto your whole post. Awesome!

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