Why do I eat more when the food tastes horrible?

veggie seedsugh.
Bob Evans in West Virginia.
Broccoli is soggy, baked potato is cold, carrots are overcooked.
And I finished them all.

I’m a food snob.
I like my food, fresh, lovingly prepared, hopefully organic, ideally local.
As you can imagine, I’m very demanding when I eat out.
There aren’t many restaurants I’m willing to go to in my own city.
This may surprise you given that I live in Toronto, a vibrant multicultural city with tons of celebrated restaurants.
But I don‘t want to pay for mediocre food when I can eat delicious food at home.
And I find that the less I love the food, the more I eat of it.

But we’re on the road again, driving to Miami for our annual winter vacation.
There aren’t many gourmet or health food options on the way, especially as my husband doesn’t like to venture off the main highways to find local neighbourhood cuisine.
So I bring tons of food I love – dried fruits, protein bars, nuts, and cut up veggies (which are languishing in last night’s Holiday Inn fridge. sob.)
But, as it’s a family trip, I also like to participate in the family meals, so I find the best thing on the menu and settle in.

What I have noticed, though, is that if the food doesn’t taste how I thought it would, I keep eating, often until it’s gone.
I hardly overeat if I love the food anymore.
So why do I overeat if I don’t love it?
It makes no sense, does it?

According to natural health experts, it totally makes sense:
Our taste buds expect a certain taste (e.g. I expect carrots to be crisp and mildly sweet). When it doesn’t meet our expectations (e.g. if the carrots are mushy and sugary sweet),
we keep eating because our brain keeps thinking that the next bite will give us what we want.
On the other hand, if the food tastes as we think it should,
our brain registers satisfaction when our stomach is filled,
and we stop eating.
What does this mean if you want to lose weight?

If the food you’re eating lacks nutritional value and doesn’t taste like real food
(think most processed, prepared, take out, and chain restaurant food),
your body won’t tell your brain that you’re full,
because your needs for vitamins, minerals, and enzymes haven’t been met,
so you’ll keep eating way more calories than your body needs.
On the other hand, if your food is bursting with vitality and nutrition and tastes delicious,
both your taste buds and your body will register satisfaction,
and you’ll be ready to stop eating much sooner.

Isn’t that just a perfect reason to put preparing high quality meals on your priority list? You may find that you lose weight without ever having to limit what you’re eating.
It’s a double win, right?
1. you get to enjoy amazing food.
2. you lose weight without consciously limiting how much you are eating.

Now that I’m aware of this,
I am challenging myself to stay aware for the rest of the trip.
To rise above my natural and adaptive tendency to eat more when my body is searching for nutrients and taste,
And pay extra close attention to my body’s hunger signals when I don’t love the food,
so that I eat only as much as I need to satisfy my hunger,
and accept that my taste buds may not be exquisitely satisfied at each meal.

Why don’t you join me in this challenge during the next few weeks,
when you may be travelling, or visiting people whose food you don’t absolutely love?

And, if you live anywhere between West Virginia and Miami, invite me for some real food!

P.S. Three spaces left for individual coaching in January – sign up now before my prices go up in 2013!

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About Forever Free with Bev Aron, Certified Weight Loss Coach

I work with emotional eaters who desperately want relief from emotional eating, but can't seem to do it on their own. They know they need to eat less and move more, but can't figure out why they aren't doing it. My specialty is showing them the why and the how. I also work with parents who are worried about their children's weight. I help those parents encourage their children to have a healthy body image and a healthy relationship with food.
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