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Eating Disorders

This section focuses on the often taboo subject of eating disorders. Here, we shed light on these topics and introduce the risks of each, as well as ways to overcome them.

Understanding Why We Eat & Food Satisfaction

To reach the ultimate satisfaction with food, feelings of guilt should be minimal or nonexistent following food intake. We’ll show you how to get there.

Understanding Why We Eat & Food Satisfaction

Eating is a Catch 22: We eat based on feelings and food affects the way we feel. Eating goes past feelings of hunger although we fill our bodies with food when hungry. To be satisfied, feelings of pleasure and fulfillment when one's wishes or needs are met. Understand the reasoning of food choices with the psychology of eating and getting satisfaction out of food.

Why Do We Eat?

We fill our bodies with food to demolish or prevent hunger, the body's natural urge to eat. An urge can stem from a want or need for food or a strong desire or craving. Food influences and choices include the following factors:

Environmental factors: convenience and availability of food in a certain area or environment
Familial factors: familiar foods and meals consumed while living at home and eating with family
Social factors: choices based on health trends or with social groups of friends, coworkers, classmates, etc.
Cultural factors: eating habits and preferences based on a particular group, time, place, or society
Individual factors: foods chosen based on personal taste, want, and feelings

Food Satisfaction

With such a wide variety of food influences, how does one gain satisfaction from food? Ultimately, satisfaction varies from person to person. One might gain satisfaction after a home-cooked meal with family while another might find satisfaction with chocolate after a long, stressful day.

The consumption of food can be a vicious cycle. The apple chosen as a healthy, conscious choice did not satisfy that sweet tooth. To fill that void the nearest tasty treat, let's say, a brownie, is consumed as an escalation of your original intent with eating the apple. Although there is instant satisfaction following eating the brownie, guilt and shame can quickly kick in not too long afterward.

Eating, as a coping mechanism, can increase negative associations and feelings towards food, especially in the long-run. The source of stress is ultimately ignored - albeit temporarily - and covered with poor food choices filled with sugar, salt, and fat. Consistent intake of unhealthful foods can result in weight gain and low self-esteem and body image. The negative feelings towards the self can intensify and accelerate the cycle with further poor food choices.

Ultimate Satisfaction

To reach the ultimate satisfaction with food, feelings of guilt should be minimal or nonexistent following food intake. Although food should not always be used as a reward, treating yourself to a slice of cake on your birthday is A-Okay and should be guilt-free. If you find that you are worried about feelings of guilt, seek a comfortable food that will not surface negative thoughts.

Achieving a positive relationship with food can be based on a total health approach. It is important to be mindful of the foods you choose to eat. But it's critical to understand that mindfulness is a nonjudgmental awareness of internal and external factors and an approach to reduce disordered eating patterns and thoughts. It's not an internal voice that shames you into making healthier choices, but rather one that refocuses your attention to your intended outcomes. Mindfulness can help create the realization that eating the brownie, mentioned earlier, at the end of a stressful day will not make the day any less stressful, or provide your body with the quality nutrition it needs.

Staying in tune with hunger and satiety - the body's "I'm full" sensation - and understanding the health benefits of the nutrients you are providing your body via food can build a positive relationship based upon health and wellness vs shame and guilt.

Christy Zagarella's Photo
Written By Christy Zagarella, MS, RDN. Published on February 06, 2016. Updated on August 29, 2019.


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