I recently came across a reasonably compelling piece on how eating for pleasure could be the best diet plan. And, it reminded me that what goes for the body, goes for a lot of other things, I do think.
Headspace, a favorite modern mindfulness blog/app, reminded me that often, we go on holiday, eat what we want, and, miraculously, return to “real” life with minimal weight gain, feeling amazing. Not to mention having some pretty amazing memories (and dishes to add to a culinary repertoire.) Why is that?
“Pleasure is an important appetite regulator. With every meal, the body registers feelings of fullness (the stomach expanding) and levels of satisfaction (has the body received what it was hungry for?). When we deprive ourselves of pleasure, our brain continuously signals the one command it knows how to give: ‘Hungry!'”
Yes, the article ultimately concludes with what we all know (eat slowly, breathe, appreciate what you’re eating, be moderate) but it does a beautiful job of walking through the data behind it, concluding that it’s nourishment that counts, not just nutrition.
A reminder that it’s not just eating good food, or food that’s good for you (particularly if you don’t love it) but food that you truly want. Junk food is the food we don’t really enjoy, body, soul, and senses. So that big bowl of quinoa may have more in common with a Big Mac than any nutritionist will admit.
And what goes for eating goes for the rest of life as well.
So often find that when I’m feeling unfulfilled or stressed in one bit of my life, the cravings start in other parts. The stress/eating relationship is pretty clear to me and to most people on the planet. But more subtly, I find that when some project or job is boring me or making me anxious, it’s not just trips to the fridge that increase. It’s trips to sites that sell lovely and completely unnecessary fripperies for home or person. Or the sudden need to binge watch Scandal.
What’s most interesting for me is that the behavior is so often a leading indicator: it comes before I realize that I’m cranky about that project, job, situation, etc.
How often we settle for things rather than going for what we really want? When we settle, it’s inevitable that we’ll act out in some way, or stress ourselves out. Or, we take on a bigger task when what we really want is that little nugget of a task/activity in the middle, like starting a company/becoming a manager when all we really want to do is to code/write/create, or vice versa.
It’s the life equivalent of eating a giant chocolate chip cookie when all we’re really craving is the chocolate. All that unnecessary stuff.
This of course requires you to know what it is you truly want, really getting to the essence of it. It requires listening to yourself. And maybe, waiting. Because even though I think that I don’t know. I do. Because my body knows, and probably my heart as well. It’s just about slowing down and listening to it, of course.
Then taking no compromises, no substitutes. Being picky. Being unreasonable. Holding out for pleasure. Cutting out what you really don’t want, because you don’t need it.
Maybe it’s not about less is more (which, because it focuses on less really does make me feel cheated). Maybe it should be more is less, as in more pleasure and more of the right stuff, less junk. That’s real nourishment.
So just go for the chocolate. That’s my motto in 2016.
Image courtesy of Lee and Lou Cook.