Just-a-taste strategy

I skip breakfast because I can’t stand the thought of it in the mornings.

I skip lunch because I don’t need it, and I’ve found that if I do eat some lunch I don’t need any dinner.

I cook dinner for my wife and kids most nights, and I tend to enjoy it more when I’m a little hungry myself!

So that leaves dinner as my main meal. We all sit down together and eat the food I’ve prepared.

But now that I’m mindful of not overeating, what should I do if I find I can keep going without eating?

I’ve tried skipping dinner but that doesn’t seem right. The point of this diet is to find balance and there’s nothing balanced about fasting.

Even intermittent fasting is too arbitrary for my preference.

No, for me the solution is to eat some dinner. Try some of the delicious food I’ve made and share this time together with my family….but do so with a ridiculously small portion.

If I’ve made pizza, taste just enough to appreciate the flavour and the texture. It doesn’t take much at all. If I’ve made pasta, a spoonful of the sauce would be enough.

If this sounds too severe, that’s fine. But for me it doesn’t make sense to eat a large portion of food just for the enjoyment. If you can enjoy a tiny amount you will savour it more. Repeat performances in the form of larger servings take us back into “eating for pleasure” territory.

So in the name of balance my solution is to eat just enough to sample the food and join with my family in eating it, but nowhere near enough to turn it into a pleasure-seeking activity through overeating.

It is not easy at first. But the whole point is to bring our eating habits and bodyweight back into balance. That can’t be accomplished if we are, while overweight, allowing ourselves to overeat for the sake of pleasure.

I’ve done it before, and I will do it again. However tantalising the food may be, I am placing greater value on finding a more enriching life that does not depend so heavily on the pleasure of eating.

To look at it from a different perspective: what pleasures and joys and fulfilment have I neglected to find in my life, preferring instead the more easily accessible pleasure of eating to excess? What needs have gone unmet or unacknowledged because I have found immediate distraction in large quantities of tasty food?

That’s a question I can’t begin to answer on a full stomach.

4 thoughts on “Just-a-taste strategy

    • Wow 😮That was amazing! Thank you for sharing it! Every time I made a mental note to comment on some aspect of what you’d written, in the next paragraph you’d already made the connection yourself!

      Like, I was about to say “it’s not about starving yourself” and the next moment you were writing about wanting this to be sustainable and a long-term change. You are clearly very intelligent and self-aware and your insights are right on-point.

      What you’ve gotten out of this so far is a really enhanced awareness of how you interact with food, and how your body and mind respond when you change that relationship.
      It was really cool to see you reappraise different sensations and experiences and realise that what usually felt like hunger was maybe something else. Likewise when you ate more than you needed and realised you didn’t really feel good from it.

      So first of all I want to say you’re not failing, because whether you eat too much or too little, you are becoming truly aware of a) how you use food and b) how your body and mind respond.

      In this past week I’ve also gone too long without eating, and I’ve at times I’ve overeaten. The important thing is that I’m now aware of what’s going on in me.

      So even when you go “all out”, it’s not failure. Each time you go all out you’re more mindful of how it feels before, during, and after. You’re getting a more detailed and fine-grained sense of what’s going on. You’re noticing that you don’t really feel good afterwards, and not in a “guilty” sense but physically.

      The next thing I wanted to say is that you’re tuning in to your own version of what I discovered: there’s a kind of balancing act going on in you whereby you have been unconsciously using food to help regulate your emotional state; and it’s been working to some degree, maybe to a high degree. It just happens to have the side effect of weight gain.
      It makes sense that as you eat less, you feel more of what’s going on emotionally.

      That’s why I want to keep pointing out what an amazing thing you’re doing. First, because it really is amazing, and second because appreciating what you’re doing, going easy on yourself emotionally, and taking pride in your work are really good ways to help regulate your emotions without using food.

      That’s why I also keep mentioning professional help. I don’t know your circumstances but I’d be remiss not to encourage people (and anyone reading) to see a psychologist or other mental health support for help in dealing with painful emotions.

      You mentioned anxiety and feeling threatened; if that’s something that comes up when you resist overeating you might want to look into ways of managing and reducing the anxiety to try to lighten that load and relieve that pressure, if you haven’t already.

      Finally (though there’s always more to say!) how do you do it? How do you not go all out?

      Okay, so 1) be really mindful of what’s going on as you go all out. I guarantee that the enjoyment is not as great or consistent as it promises to be.
      2) notice that it’s not pure pleasure you’re experiencing, but a collection of different sensations like the act of chewing, mouth feel, texture. Breaking it down as you observe takes away some of its power.
      3) put some back. This is a big one for me. Doesn’t work with every type of food or situation, but I would fill a bowl with pasta, recognise it was too much, and put some back. Hardest thing I’ve ever done is to put back an entire second helping…so hard! But it really makes an impact. There’s something psychologically powerful about putting the food back/away, or declining food that’s offered (or accepting only a little for politeness).

      The fourth one needs a preamble.
      I felt really bad about my body, how it looked, and being overweight.
      I don’t call myself fat. I use BMI categories instead. Because I am not fat, fat is just one of the tissues that makes up my amazing body. And my amazing body is doing its job perfectly all the time. Even though I’ve treated it with hate and loathing in the past, it still does everything so perfectly with its own innate intelligence. I’ve spent time learning to feel better about my body and appreciate it. I even came to appreciate that the fat on my body is a sign that my body is functioning perfectly. It’s doing exactly what it Is meant to do, storing energy from the food I give it.

      I started appreciating my body this way. But at the same time I didn’t like the look and feel of that extra weight. It didn’t feel like “me”. More like something extra I was carrying around but didnt really want.

      So i started feeling better about my body and also clearer about the aspect i didn’t like.
      And so my final tip for now is that I made the connection in my mind – reminding myself when I wanted to eat a lot more – that the excess food was keeping my body looking and feeling the way I don’t like.

      The second bowl of pasta, third or fourth slice of pizza, extra snack after dinner; the food that is clearly about overeating (often with an attitude of “I don’t care, I deserve this pleasure”) at these times I mentally went back to how I feel about the extra weight on my body, and connected the dots.

      Thanks again for asking your question and sharing your thoughts. It helps me too to go over it.

  1. Thank you for your replay.
    I agree with you completly with getting professional help.
    If anything, I think I have realised just how much sadness/depression there is “in” me, because it feels like its comes from the inside, all being more a feeling then a thought. I’ll definitely go looking for help when I get back home, because what I tend to brush aside seems to be a bit too serious for neglecting.
    I really enjoyed this approach on the days that I was 100% in tune with myself, But I slipped into old habits of judging myself, eating became right or wrong again, and this is normally when overeating happens.
    I’m going to keep on blogging, interesting to see what the future days will bring. Thank you again for your answer and in general for your blog!

    • Good on you, Joanna. I’ve had help for anxiety and depression myself. In the end its about feeling good and enjoying life more, and it sounds to me like you’re on that path.

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