Consider what you are hungry for before you look at what is available. Listening to your internal cues will help you to make more satisfying matches.
It is not uncommon for people to open their refrigerators or cabinets as they muse, “What do I want to eat?” After seeing the options available, a choice is made that may or may not serve as a good match. The problem with this method is that it constricts people to picking foods that are immediately available, without giving enough thought to internal signals that can help direct food selection.
Let’s say that notice you are hungry and go to your pantry to see what is there. You see on a can of cream of potato soup, and decide that it will be quick and easy. While it tastes good to you because it is one of your favorite soups, your stomach does not feel quite satisfied. As you reflect on your experience, you realize that you really craved something more substantial that included protein. In fact, you immediately picture a ham sandwich and know that this would have felt much more satisfying in your stomach. Unfortunately, even though you are not satisfied, you are too full to eat anything more. And, you don’t have any ham in the house!
You may not take time to check in with your physical cravings because anticipate the disappointment that you’d feel if what you desire isn’t available. Let’s say that you realize you crave a ham sandwich, but do not have any ham. If you decide that it’s a sandwich with protein that feels the most important, you could prepare another type of sandwich with turkey, cheese or tuna. If it’s the ham that is the most important part of your craving, you may decide that some leftover sausage would be the closest match. If your desire for a ham sandwich is so clear that it does not feel other choices come close enough, you may decide that it’s worth the effort to run out and get one.
Finally, knowing that at times you crave ham sandwiches means you will want to add ham to your grocery list so that you will have it available in the future.
When you go to restaurant, think about what you are hungry for before opening the menu. Then, see which selections come the closest to what you want. This will increase the chances of making a good match.
The key to making matches is to do your best to notice what your body craves at a particular moment. Some matches will feel absolutely perfect, and some will feel “good enough.” It would be impossible to have every food option available to you at all times, or to expect yourself to always drop everything and run to get the food that you crave. But, sometimes it is worth going out of your way on behalf of yourself. Respect your internal signals that tell you what you need to eat, do your best to get that item – or come as close as possible – and learn from your cravings how to shop for yourself in the future.
Activity: The Match Game
Rules of the game:
It is your turn to play this game the moment you become physically hungry.
For your first spin at making a match…
Take time to conjure up what type of food you are hungry for.
-Be specific. If it is an omelet, is it filled with mushrooms and cheese? Ham and green peppers? Does it have anything else on the plate like toast, home fries, bacon, or fruit?
-Imagine how this food would taste in your mouth.
-Imagine how this food would feel in your stomach.
For your second spin at making a match…
Ask yourself, “Is it the right match?”
-If yes, then your next move is to see if you have the ingredients on hand to make this match. If you do, your task is to prepare the food that fits your hunger.
-If not, do you want to go to a restaurant that has this particular food? Do you want to go to the store to buy the needed ingredients? If you are too hungry to do either of the above, what would make a good enough match at this moment?
For your third spin at making a match…
Give yourself the space to eat your food with pleasure.
For your final spin…
Evaluate the match.
The great thing about the match game is that you are always a winner. Either you made the right match, or you gained more information about your hunger and what you might need in the future to satisfy your needs!
Imagination is the beginning of creation. You imagine what you desire, you will what you imagine and at last you create what you will.
~George Bernard Shaw
Ellen Shuman is a Life Coach who specializes in emotional and binge eating recovery. She is the founder of A Weigh Out & Acoria Eating Disorder Treatment, Vice President of the Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA), and Co-Chair of the Academy for Eating Disorders Special Interest Group on “Health at Every Size”, firstname.lastname@example.org