Mental Versus Physical Satisfaction With Food
By Chef K.T. Murphy
The dictionary defines satisfaction as, “the fulfillment of a need or want” or “the source or means of enjoyment.” In life, one of our ultimate sources of happiness comes with food. We associate memories with dishes and even attribute certain meals with certain people.
Our mind and body work in conjunction with the other to help us function properly and make decisions. However, when it comes to matters of hunger, often times our brain doesn’t communicate clearly with our stomach.
Lack of control or even distorted views of ourselves could impact our patterns of eating. The same rings true with our meal satisfaction. Often times, it’s difficult to distinguish between mental and physical satisfaction. In order to understand our body, it’s important to understand the vital differences between the two in order to reach an equilibrium.
Signs of Mental Satisfaction
There is entire psychology behind what we determine as mentally satisfying. Mental satisfaction appeals to the visual and olfactory senses. We may receive a meal that is plated to perfection. We haven’t had one bite, but the visual appeal is so wondrous, we may disregard its actual taste.
Our sense of smell plays a huge role in this as well. Just the allure of freshly baked bread or fresh oranges can determine our happiness with a meal. Something can taste amazing, but if the smell is pungent, we may hesitate to take another bite.
We also determine mental satisfaction based on our social setting. If we perceive ourselves to be the larger flower in a garden of twigs, we may decrease the amount we eat so as to not draw attention to our weight.
If we find ourselves in a situation where we are encouraged to eat so as to not seem rude, we may push our mental limits of satisfaction and overeat as a means to fit in.
Dr. Jennifer Lee, a behavioral scientist and psychology instructor speaks about the process of overeating and how the brain communicates to the body that it’s full. She explains, “Sensory-specific satiety is defined as the decrease in the perceived pleasantness of an eaten food relative to that of an uneaten food.
In other words, we are satisfied once we have had enough of something (e.g., chocolate), such that it doesn’t seem as appealing as something else (e.g., salty snacks).” Our brain determines this through a variety of sensory-specific factors such as smell, size, and taste. When certain foods with dominate smells and flavors are consumed, we are more satisfied.
High-stress situations may impact our decision making which in turn effects our satisfaction. When we feel depressed, anxious, or even joyous, we may reach for a certain food or drink in order to fulfill that stimulus. Often times, these decisions lead to guilt, which could impact our perception of the meal.
Signs of Physical Satisfaction
We know when we’re physically hungry. We have a growling stomach to remind us that it’s time to eat. However, the communication between your stomach and mind during feeding time is a little slow.
We are physically satisfied when the feeling of hunger is no longer present. We have eaten and we fill energized to take on the day. Our bellies are full and the physical symptoms of hunger such as shaking, headaches, and even irritability are gone.
When we’re eating and we get to the point where our stomach feels even a little full, it’s time to stop. Shirley Pasternak, who created the 5-factor diet, recommends eating until you’re 80% full. This is where your mind and body must be in cahoots. In order to avoid the downfall of overeating or emotional eating, your brain has to be in control.
This requires discipline and self-awareness. Keeping a food diary, tracking calories, or even physically stopping yourself from overeating will help your body to reach a point of balance. When your body is satisfied, your mind will be equally happy.
You will no longer deal with the guilt of overeating or give in to cravings. Rather, you’ll gain the true sense of mental and physical satisfaction that comes along with eating.
All the best, Good Food makes For Better Decisions.