Pleasure: often the missing ingredient to healthy eating and a reason you overeat.

My two-year-old daughter sure knows how to enjoy her food! There are lots of ummmmmm, yummmmmy, mo’ pease along with licking her spoon and food all over her little face. She is taking in the whole joyful experience of having a meal, which includes the taste, texture and sounds of eating along with the people she’s with. Eating is just another pleasurable experience in her day. She eats and then she’s back to playing and exploring. 

Somehow we lose this simple ingredient to healthy eating; pleasure! 

Eating healthy is not only about nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. It is also very much about the enjoyment and satisfaction of the food we eat, the company we keep and our surroundings. 

Often times when I ask my clients if they experience pleasure when eating they look at me like I have lost my mind. “Of course I enjoy food, that’s my biggest problem and why I can’t stop eating.” 

I would have to say that the biggest problem is in fact they have stopped enjoying their food and the experience of eating long ago because you cannot enjoy something you do not experience. 

There are some key beliefs that stop us from experiencing pleasure from eating:

Eating makes you fat:
If you believe that simply eating is going to make you gain weight, well then it makes sense that you would not enjoy eating. You are always fighting yourself and therefore fighting your food and the experience of eating. 

The even bigger problem is you don’t even realize this is what you believe and if you do, you don’t question it because it has probably already manifested in your life and in your body. 

Eating and food do not make you fat. Eating unconsciously with abandon and not fully inhabiting your body and the messages it is sharing with you will lead to over OR under eating. 

Your body is not to be trusted:
At some point in your life you may have been led to believe that your body is not to be trusted, that your body will betray you or that it already has. So you go on a life’s mission of trying to manipulate and control your body through all sorts of ways of weighing and measuring; calories, grams, pounds, steps, kilometres, minutes and hours. 

Just the other day I was working with a client around her cravings for carbs and sugar. My client is a very fit, high achieving, extremely active and intelligent mother of two. She has a very healthy, well rounded diet but she has been consistently fighting her cravings for carbs and sugars and at some point she usually gives in leading to feelings of shame and disappointment. Just the other day she came to realize that these cravings are because her body is completely depleted from over doing everything. Her body has been intelligently seeking energy whatever way it can. 

She has been trying to ignore her cravings for energy and also shutting down her need to rest. If she listens to the cravings and what they are really saying, it’s not to eat chocolate bars and candy, it’s to take more time to rest, to let go, to not have to achieve all of the time. 

She is now taking more time to honour her body and it's messages by investigate her beliefs and what is really behind her need to be high achiever instead of focusing only on trying to stop her food cravings.   

Healthy food is not pleasurable food
This is absolutely not true! I think you may need to redefine what healthy means and it’s possible you have placed some foods in the unhealthy category because society or some scientist has said so. 

There is so much science, so many different ways of eating and many of them contradict each other. To me this means there is no right way to eat and that we just need to take some time to explore and be open to what works for us. If you are hanging on by your fingernails to a specific diet and it’s making your life miserable, it’s not working. 

It is also possible that your palette might be a little off if you have been eating a lot of processed food. If your palette is used to high stimulant foods like sugar and salt it will take a bit of time to enjoy the subtle flavours of different grains and vegetables. Take your time, there is no rush and slowly incorporate more of these foods. 

How to bring more pleasure into eating:
It is possible to reignite this connection to pleasurable eating and the first step begins in slowing down. Eat slowly, sit down in a chair to eat, set aside more time for meals, and try to eat without distractions. Make it a priority to only eat meals you will enjoy and take a stand against eating even one more unsatisfactory meal. This means no more boiled chicken and vegetables. No more salads without salad dressing. 

If you have slowed down to really take in what you’re eating including the flavour, the texture, the sounds and how it’s sitting in your belly you will be more likely to eat what your body wants. Your body wants you to be healthy, to feel good, to have energy and it will let you know if the food you’re eating is not serving you. 

The ingredient of pleasure is not only about enjoying your food so that you will slow down and experience it. It is also very much about helping you metabolize the food you’re eating. You can have the healthiest diet and still not feel good after eating if you are not enjoying the experience of eating. 

If you are not experiencing pleasure when eating where else is your life lacking this essential ingredient? Sometimes we think that if we just could get our food and our eating habits to a better place then life would be better. If you are not getting enough pleasure out of your life you will try and get it somewhere, anywhere and often times it's from food. You cannot heal your relationship with food and body without taking a good look at how you are living your life. 

You deserve to have a life that is pleasurable and it’s possible for you to enjoy life on a whole new level! Try to reconnect to that two year old inside you who without question enjoys every meal with an attitude that every new experience is a new adventure. 

Lick your spoon, get some food on your face and laugh at the silly people around you! 

If you would like a healthier relationship with food and with your body so you can feel more inspired, engaged and satisfied with your life then reach out to me. I have the space to take on four new clients in August and these spots go fast. It's time to finally shift your relationship with food and body so you can feel healthy, peaceful and free!