Figure out what makes you breathless with delight. Stop reading for a minute, close your eyes, and consider what brings you comfort, gratification, sheer delight. It may be the sunrise over the ocean, the soft down on your baby’s cheek, an afternoon matinee, walking barefoot through the morning dew, the curve of a lover’s shoulder, the sound of rain, a hike in the forest, an afternoon nap, your favorite band, the smell of freshly mowed grass, dancing until midnight. The list can go on, and on. See how many things you can list, that don’t involve food.
Related: 29 Simple Pleasures
Decide if you’re hungry before you snack. The next time you feel like having a nibble or nosh, stop before you indulge it, and ask yourself, “Am I really hungry?” You might be; if your meals are lacking in fat, protein or caloric value, you may physically need food. Or, if you’re eating according to a regimented diet that excludes foods that you find delightful, you might need more pleasure from the food—even if it’s nutritionally sound. You should enjoy your meals. That’s why we have taste buds.
Related: Why Am I Always Hungry?
Choose another pleasure. If you’re truly not hungry, why do you need a snack? Most of the time, it’s because you really need a hit of pleasure; mainline a little sugar, and get some endorphins on board, and you’ll feel better, fast. Is there something else you can do, besides eat when you’re not hungry, to fulfill your desires? And again, if you’re not getting any pleasure from your meals, find ways to add gratifying foods to your diet. Unless you’re diabetic, allergic or on a sugar-restricted diet for a very specific condition, a bit of chocolate—or whatever food is gratifying to you–can go a long way to adding pleasure at the end of a meal.
Related: Banish Compulsive Eating
Get physical. We have so many outlets for mental pleasure—movies, music, entertaining blog sites, telephone conversations. Physical pleasure is harder to come by, but our bodies require it. Where can you get it? Massage works. So does movement. But not exercise. I don’t exercise; I tried for years, and hated it immensely. Finally, I cancelled my gym membership and started moving my body in ways that bring me great pleasure: yoga, dance, martial arts, hiking, biking. From the outside, it still looks like exercise. Inside, my motives are different; I finally stopped hauling my body to the gym, dragging it from machine to machine. Yes, I know, it’s a matter of semantics. But it’s also a lateral shift in thinking that involves looking at movement from a different perspective.
Related: Get Physical!
And above all, don’t fear or hate your desire for pleasure. Remember that, like cats and penguins, you’re built for it. Find a way to indulge it authentically.