This is something I realize I do before eating out or eating snacks. I don’t do it when I’m eating prepared food, meal prepped stuff, or my regular on-track foods. But whenever I go “off course,” I’m setting my eating experience intentions.
What does that even mean?
It means that when I consider what I’m going to do with my day and how my meals are going to go, I decide early how I want to feel about it. I don’t always decide to treat my body like a temple, mind you, but I do make conscious decisions around any binge levels snacks happen. I don’t just let them happen TO me. I decided to experience them when I want to.
I started thinking about this habit of my last Sunday when I ate out with the husband. I really wanted some veggies and meatballs. So we went to an Italian place, and the only meatballs they had were with fettuccine. That’s fine, I ordered it with an extra meatball and a side of Brussel sprouts. I ate all the veggies, stole one of his asparagus, ate all the meatballs, and just picked at the fettucini. Not because I was depriving myself, but because it just didn’t fit the intention I had set for my meal and how I wanted that meal to make me feel.
Full disclosure: I had eaten a bowl of pretzels, half covered in dark chocolate and half covered in raspberry yogurt. See, deprivation is just something I don’t care to do.
This hasn’t always been the case. It’s taken years to get here.
When I was a dancer it was all about restriction all the time. When I got into weight class sports, it got better as I had to learn about nutrition rather than just calories, but I still had a very ON/OFF mentality about paying attention to what I ate and didn’t really focus on how it made me feel.
It’s really only been in the past three years that I’ve really started seeing beyond the “food is fuel” and “fun is fun” dichotomy that is usually pushed.
It’s both. And it’s more.
So I want you to try something for me.
Eat the way you normally do. But each morning think about what your food and energy needs and wants are for the day. Set your physicality intentions.
Then at each meal, look at your food and consider it. Does it line up with the intention you set for the day? How will eating this food make you feel (1) as you eat it (2) 30 minutes after you’re done (3) later that day as your prepare for bed.
There is no shame here. I do this even when I fully plan to eat an ENTIRE BAG OF MILANO COOKIES. I hold that bag in my hand and thing of what joy it’s going to bring me as I devour it and prepare myself for the slothitude I’m going to feel when I’m done. I don’t like that sloth feeling unless it’s been a fair amount of time since I’ve imbibed in such gluttony. And when I experience that only once in a blue moon, the sloth feeling can feel quite indulgent.
Just notice your thoughts and predictions. Still eat the food. Then pay attention to whether you were right.