What is Enough?

Last week I talked about controlling the direction our decision marbles can take down a damp hill of sand. How our conscious brains could direct which way the marble rolled. How consciously sending the marble down the groove we WANT it to go is a great visual to building better habits.

Habit change is best done one marble at a time. We need to practice and keep track of that ONE marble until it is consistently going in the direction we desire. Trying multiple habit changes simultaneously will have us just losing our marbles!  We don’t get efficient at doing our job in one go; with repetition we get really good at opening those sterile supplies, drawing up medication, positioning patients, confirming allergies, setting up equipment, etc. Each task we do at work felt clunky doing at first, we had to think our way through doing it each time until it “clicked” and we began doing it automatically.

Let’s take one of the four basic habits we are practicing on a daily basis: eating each meal to a +2 satisfied on the hunger scale. A +2 means our body has had “enough” to eat. But how do we find our +2 on the hunger scale if our satiety cues are all out of whack?

If we have habitually been overeating emotionally for decades then our insulin-resistant, leptin-resistant metabolism is going to make it VERY difficult to judge when “enough is enough”!

How can we tell when our body has had “enough” like a normal eater can?

I have discussed using visual cues (small plates, just noticeable difference, smaller portions) as a hack to help combat habits that have us overeating. These work by keeping us aware of what, why, when, and how often we are eating in the moment so our conscious brain has a chance to overrule our unconscious primitive brain. These visual cues make us consciously think about what is “enough” food.

But what does “enough” mean?

If we are consistently overeating at meals then “enough” is probably when the plate is clean, the bag is empty, the food is all gone, there is no more in the house, etc. With this type of thinking an external measurement tells us when we have eaten “enough”. Well what if we are on a cruise and there is food everywhere 24/7? Our definition of “enough” will just expand!

Here is another way to think about what “enough” can mean. Enough for a “normal” eater is when they are no longer getting pleasure, satisfaction, or enjoyment out of what they are eating.

Here is an example to understand this concept. A restaurant serves a 10oz. juicy steak with a big baked potato, melted butter and a side salad. You start eating your favorite item and the first 5 or 6 bites are delicious. But if you continue eating, your interest in the food will peak. The taste is still good but not as good so you go on to the next food. This happens with each of the foods on your plate, your taste pleasure peaks and then wanes after a certain amount of bites. This is your body’s way of telling you that it is satisfied with that food and it has had enough!

The next time you are chewing your meal pay attention to each bite. Are you enjoying it fully and loving the taste, texture, and smell enough to eat more? Or, are you going through the motions of eating because food is still there?

We want to enjoy our eating experience! We don’t want to make it mindless!  We enjoy it best if we listen to what our body is telling us.

I have tried this with potato chips. I would eat a whole bag (we are talking PARTY size here!) no problemo! So I did a little experiment this week with a party size bag of organic avocado oil sea salt potato chips from Wegmans.

After eating about 10 chips they started tasting pasty, dull, and my tongue actually hurt from the crispy salty chips. It became disgusting to continue eating them! I had had enough because the pleasure of the salty crispy oily chips had peaked and I was becoming aware of the complete lack of satisfaction I was experiencing as I continued to eat.

I realized I had continued to eat chips (insert in place of chips any food that is overeaten) when my body was yelling at me, “enough! STOP!” I had literally ignored FOR YEARS what my body had figured out 10 chips in!

Now my guide is to pay attention when I am eating and when my pleasure in a food peaks and starts to slide away, that is my enough. This is not an exact science as “enough” is not an exact measure. But “enough” can be found when my mind and body pay attention to each other.

“Enough” will be that physical satisfaction and just noticeable difference your thoughts can “see” and emotions can “feel”. Finding your “enough” is a strong habit to practice that will leave food on your plate and less fat on your body!

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