If you are reading this and found my site, there's a chance you struggle with your relationship with food.
One of the many symptoms of a troubled relationship with food is a desire to go all or nothing - either be completely on a diet or embrace a free for all mentality of enjoying whatever is put in front of you at any given time.
Moderation is often touted as a good approach to eating, but saying "eat everything in moderation" isn't very helpful. For one thing, most foods available nowadays, served up in supermarket shelf products or in restaurants, are loaded with ingredients and chemicals that are designed to make us want more and more.
This is harder than simply trying to satisfy a sweet craving in a healthy way - this is the food actually affecting our brain chemistry to get us hooked. That's a tough thing to battle!
And so the words "eat everything moderation" remain a nice idea but represent something unrealistic to achieve. As well, there's no guide to how to achieve that. "Moderation" is too vague, what is moderation? For some people it's four cookies, for others it's half of one. Everyone will have their own idea of moderation formed in relation to their experiences and relationship with food and, oftentimes, their upbringing.
Therefore, my goal with this blog post is to give you a guide. Remember: Guides are not rules; there is no punishment if you 'stray'. This is not a diet, nor is it a rule you can use to beat yourself up if it's broken (I know you're used to doing that). It is simply a suggestion, if you will, on how to make "moderation" more achievable for you.
I call it the Two-Bite Method. Our brains enjoy a variety of flavours, but our stomachs don't actually require that much food to be satisfied. As a result, the best way to enjoy food and feel both mentally and physically satisfied is to employ the two-bite method.
This isn't always possible at a meal, unless you tend to dine tapas-style, with several dishes available for sharing. (However, if you do tend to cook this way, the Two-Bite Method will help you at mealtimes also!)
Instead, I recommend the method as a good guide for when you want to not feel deprived yet you also know that eating a whole serving of a particular food won't be particularly beneficial nutritionally.
Let's take dessert as the obvious choice here but other foods are good candidates for this - French fries, chips, nachos and dips, etc.
If you would like to feel satisfied and not be craving the chocolate cake you have had your eye on all night long, then order it, take two bites and leave the rest. Sounds easier said than done, right? Well, there's a way to take those two bites.
They must be enjoyed slowly.
They must also receive your full attention.
No eating quickly, swallowing after chewing only once or twice, or eating while talking here!
For maximum effect, close your eyes to really focus on the food, but if that makes you self-conscious in certain settings, keep the eyes open but hone in on the experience of eating this food.
Consider the texture, the flavour, the temperature, the aftertaste. Chew it at least 5-10 times instead of once or twice. Then, put your spoon or fork down before taking your second bite.
Again, this is a guide. For some people, they need only one bite. Others take three or four. The point here is, you don't need to eat the full dish. Obviously for minimum food wastage, and to make this easier, the best thing to do is to share with someone else. However, remember this:
It's still a waste if it's on your waist.
I don't support wasting food, but there's also no point in treating your body like a human trash can. If you don't need the food nutritionally and you are full, then eating something just so you don't waste it is treating your body the same as the kitchen's garbage can. Remember this the next time that moral conscience kicks in about food wastage!
Give this a go and see how you do. Leave a comment below on your experience!
Stage 2 of this method elevates to being more selective in your choice of food. Even though you're being good about enjoying your two bites to satisfy yourself, desserts are usually made with cane sugar, and that is highly addictive. Fried foods or packaged foods often have chemicals in that leave you wanting more and more.
Enjoying these foods - even in moderation - makes life really hard for yourself, so the next stage would be to start considering the choices of foods you ingest.
Choose products at the store (or bake them yourself at home!) that don't use cane sugar but rather natural sweeteners like maple syrup, dates, coconut sugar, honey, xylitol, stevia or other no-sugar-added products (stay away from artificial sweeteners like aspartame, Splenda, etc. - there isn't enough long-term research done on the effect these have on the body). Be careful about consuming trans fats and MSG.
But for now, take it step by step :). Enjoy every morsel of your two bites, and let me know how you feel!