I typically eat food in one of two ‘states’:
- For the pure enjoyment of it. I love the taste of food, and I enjoy the act of eating more than most things in life.
- Out of sheer habit. Eating food also scratches an itch for me; it’s something I do habitually. Sometimes I catch myself not enjoying food per se, but simply eating it out of habit.
One of the keys to being Healthy Enough is to eat food ‘habitually’ as little as possible – the upshot of which means you’ll enjoy what you do eat more.
How so? It’s all to do with the diminishing returns found in eating food.
The first bite of any meal always tastes the best, and food is always far more enjoyable when you’re hungry. You can utilise these simple realities to eat less food and enjoy what you eat more.
The key is to focus clearly on your enjoyment of everything you eat, and make calculated decisions in order to maximise your enjoyment of your food.
One of the most obvious examples of this approach is not succumbing to the temptation to snack between meals. Put simply, you won’t enjoy your next meal as much if you snack beforehand, because you won’t be as hungry. Therefore, you might consider skipping that desired snack. In this sense, you eat less not because you feel you should (from a weight loss point of view), but out of a desire to enjoy your food more when do you eat.
This is just one weapon in your armoury, and can be employed alongside others to provide a formidable defence against poor eating habits (consider for example my ‘sensory overload’ strategy for overcoming hunger pangs).
I try my best to act out the above advice on a daily basis. I don’t always succeed, but when I do, it provides a positive feedback loop that strengthens my resolve and promotes healthier habits. When you ‘fail’ (such as I did the other day when I ate an ill-advised brownie in the middle of the afternoon), be sure to pay attention to how much less you enjoy your next meal, and use that memory as a prompt to make a better decision next time around.
This thinking can also be applied to portion size. For example, if you intend to have a dessert after dinner, you’ll enjoy it more if you have a relatively small dinner portion, and you won’t feel like you’re neglecting your appetite, as you’re having two courses.
One of the keys to being Healthy Enough is to give yourself reasons to eat more healthily that don’t revolve around a desire to lose weight. After all, our resolve isn’t consistently strong, so the more strings you have to your bow, the more likely you are to make better decisions. The thinking I’ve described above – how to maximise your enjoyment of food by eating less – offers up a win/win scenario. Start utilising it whenever making eating decisions from now on, and reap the rewards.