Do you enjoy food?

June 5, 2008

In my experience there are three ways to eat :

  • For sustenance only
  • With great enjoyment
  • On autopilot

Obviously, being overweight is a signal that I am not someone who eats only for sustenance. A few times in my life I have eaten like this however (when sick mainly, but for a few weeks when maniacally dieting) – where eating becomes a task like brushing your teeth – something you have to do that you don’t particularly enjoy. Like I said, this isn’t really my problem (nor is it likely to be yours if you’re reading weight-loss blogs…)

The second category of enjoying my food can claim some wonderful memories and great pleasures, but is probably responsible for very little of my excess weight — because when you are really enjoying something you experience it fully and that pleasure experience is usually not coupled with the need to “fill up” and so you can have smaller portions and be quite satisfied (as almost all gourmet restaurant experiences can attest). Unfortunately, I am much more often eating on autopilot and not really experiencing my food. I know at the end of last year when I was working with Dr Hope I had a lot of homework on this topic and it was really hard but really eye-opening. Incorporating this appreciation of what I eat on a daily basis is one of my long-term goals.

The final category, “eating on autopilot” is without a doubt responsible for 99% of my excess weight. Why do we spend so much time eating on autopilot – munching, slurping, sipping, etc without really paying attention to the tastes, textures and pleasure in our food? Fast food in the car, eating anything in front of the TV or computer, any time we eat and multitask — all signs we aren’t paying attention to what we’re eating. I’ve been known to plow through impressive quantities of food because I’m enjoying the rhythm of eating.

I recently saw a doctor comment on obesity who said “I really don’t think that obese people allow themselves to experience hunger… obese people really don’t get into the taste, texture, and sensations when eating food. Furthermore, they don’t even like the foods that they overeat, and they don’t pay attention to and are not conscious of what they are eating most of the time.”

The comment hit pretty close to home for me…

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