Eating To The Point of Satisfaction

January 26, 2012

Architecture Project © by Big C Harvey

The Counting Calories Experiment

As part of my Reasonable Diet course, I took on counting calories. Not obsessively, just to increase awareness and get real. One element of Sandra’s advice I incorporated was to keep a mindset of figuring out how many calories would satisfy me.

How Many Calories Will Satisfy Me?

I found it really interesting. Instead of eating my “target” number of calories, I built my daily intake the other way around – the calories that I seemed to want to eat, not the calories I had at my disposal.

To my surprise, there were big variations in what I ate from one day to the next. Actually, there were several days in a row on the low end, and one spike, and then two days on the higher side, which no surprise, was over the weekend.

At the end of the first week, my daily average was about 150 calories below what I’d had in mind as a target.  And I was far more satisfied than if I’d eaten to a certain number each day.

Satisfaction Varies

The main thing I learned (well, re-learned, this isn’t my first time flirting with the concept of eating to satisfaction) was that my satisfaction varies. It varies each day, and during the day. It’s been different several days this second week of calorie counting too. I’ve seen high satisfaction on small amounts of some foods, and other foods that I eat routinely that don’t seem to satisfy me at all (hello radishes, I’m talking to you!).

I’ve known for a long time that a small amount of really dark really good chocolate is far more satisfying than a bunch of cheap stuff, but some of the satisfaction levels of things in my diet surprised me.  I was incredibly satisfied by fried eggs for breakfast, and much less so by scrambled.  Was it the day, the cooking, just a fluke?  I don’t know, but I know how I’ll prepare eggs next time.

Letting Go Of “MINE!”

One thing I really liked about counting calories in this way was that I was able to move away from a budgeting mindset, of thinking “how many calories do I have allocated for this meal?” and worse, “how many calories do I have left?”.  It was also a good way to become more aware of food choices without making myself insane with my perfectionist tendencies and minutia.  I was up a rung or two on the food journal ladder, but wasn’t in any risk of going over the top.

Gone was the 9pm wandering around the kitchen wondering how to best use the 137 remaining calories (does that sound familiar to anyone?). Gone also was the feeling of failure for being 58 calories over my “budget”, or being stressed out because it’s dinner time and I only have 200 calories “left”.

In the past I would eat something to “use up” “my calories at the end of the day. Sometimes I would bank them for a special treat later in the week, but I always considered them mine to spend.

I found it a really useful exercise both in the minutia of reminding me how many calories are in which foods (always a good reality check) but also in getting in touch with that elusive goal of Satisfaction.

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