Satisfied by Small Meals

Do you like to eat a lot, perhaps feeling cheated if you go with smaller portions, or that you need a certain amount of food to be satisfied?

I’ve felt that way many times, even fairly recently. Then I started thinking about why. Did I really need that much food, or was something else going on?

In the past, I’ve gotten tripped up on how much I ate because I compared my food to what others ate, ignoring the reality that we all have different bodies with different needs, and that respective activity levels play a role, as well as how much and when we last ate, etc.

More recently, though, this feeling came from something different, of me falling a little out of the habit of being mindful. If I eat without paying attention, I have more because I’m not getting the enjoyment of the food. I therefore prolong the experience, as if eating more while distracted will somehow magically give the same experience of eating less but mindfully.

Except it doesn’t work that way. No amount of mindless eating will be as satisfying as eating while truly paying attention.

Even better, when I’m being mindful, eating smaller portions feels just right. I take smaller bites, so it almost feels like I’m eating more than I am. I put down my fork and pause between bites, chewing thoroughly to get the full complexity of flavor and texture with each mouthful. I appreciate the appearance and smell of the food.

After a few meals like this, when I look at large amounts of food, I can’t quite imagine eating all of it. After all, eating a small meal mindfully takes some time, and I have other things to do. More than that, because I’m satisfied physically and emotionally, I simply don’t want or need more and wouldn’t enjoy it if I forced myself to eat. (Certain foods, of course, may be exempt from this.)

Knowing that, I will try to remain mindful so that I can continue to enjoy my smaller meals.

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