Diet culture tells us to reject pleasure with food so we can eat “the right things”.
We’ll think we need to suffer with food to be healthy and lose weight. Which means we’ll stop prioritizing natural pleasure in the eating experience.
This mindset will lead you cycling between two extremes.
You’ll restrict pleasure because you think this is necessary to achieve your health goals. Then, you’ll overpleasure with food because you’ve been forcing yourself to restrict the pleasure.
This is an on-going cycle that will keep you stuck.
Allowing natural pleasure with food is meeting in the middle.
The truth is, experiencing natural pleasure with food is an inherent need your body has. This is where you’re intentionally choosing to savor every eating experience.
In this podcast episode, I’m teaching you what finding natural pleasure in the eating experience can look like. I share examples of how I do this in my life, along with ways you can do this for yourself now.
Hello there. Welcome back to the podcast this week. I’m so happy you’re here with me today. I hope you’re doing so, so well. This past week my boyfriend Taylor and I celebrated 7 years together, which was very exciting for us. I’m really so grateful for this relationship we have. And he’s just been the best in terms of me and my goals. He’s so supportive. And he thinks what I’m doing with this business, this podcast, and with my company is the coolest thing and he’s just my biggest cheerleader and I love him so much. To celebrate we went to the Ritz Carlton at Amelia Island for dinner and it was so, so lovely. I posted about it a bit on Instagram, which by the way if you’re not following me my username is @KatRentas. And we had a table with a view of the ocean and we got to watch the sunset. Beyond beautiful. And usually when we go out to eat for special occasions we really want to take our time with the meal, order multiple courses, and just enjoy the eating experience. See what I did there? Little segway into today’s episode topic. And savoring the eating experience is something that is really important to both of us. Even when we first started dating, something we had in common was a passion for food. And not in a ravenous way, but more in an appreciative way. We absolutely love going out to eat, trying new foods, and really savoring each eating experience we have. And our anniversary dinner was a perfect representation of that. We probably spent a few hours at the table and we really savored every single dish. We ordered crab legs, calamari, mussels, fried green tomatoes, chicken with this pomegranate glaze, etc. Just talking about it is making my mouth water. It was all very lovely. And it ended up being a bit more food than we wanted to eat at that time, so we took most of it home. But we really savored each bite of that food. And it’s funny, with the work I do in my business I definitely have become that person during the meal that’s reminding both of us to slow down and appreciate each bite. Which, once again Taylor is so amazing and patient with me so he’s like “Alright, yes babe. Let’s do that. I get it.” And it really has been so beneficial to intentionally create these eating experiences that feel so pleasurable regardless of the food, the setting, or our appetite level really. It all feels very loving and intentional. And the reason why I want to talk about this concept of the eating experience today is because our society has a really warped idea of what pleasure with food should look like. I used to have a really bad relationship when it came to experiencing pleasure with food and I know that’s the case for so many of you. And this is really, really common. In diet culture we’re taught to really resist pleasure with food and we’re taught to restrict it. Let’s be real, most diet protocols or weight loss programs are not focused on increasing your ability to experience pleasure with food. Because, they perpetuate the belief that pleasure with food means you’re out of control with it. That to use food as a source of pleasure means you’re dependent off of that food to feel better or experience comfort. And this is actually not the case whatsoever. It’s one of the biggest, biggest misconceptions with food that I see. And the fact is there is a difference between seeking comfort in food and experiencing natural pleasure with food. Using food as a source of emotional comfort will not serve you in most cases, right? You don’t want to eat based on how you’re feeling emotionally because then your eating decisions can’t be intentional. However, experiencing natural pleasure in food is not indulgent, urgent, or frivolous. It’s actually an inherent need that your body has. Just like hunger and just like fullness. Your pleasure meter with food needs to be filled, but it’s important you understand the difference between pleasure with food and comfort with food. As mentioned, one will feel urgent and it’s coming from you wanting to feel better emotionally. This is when you’ll feel the need to eat more food and no amount of food will ever quite feel enough until you’re completely stuffed. Since this is the act of suppressing negative emotion. Pleasure with food never feels urgent. It’s always very passive and intentional. And having pleasure with food doesn’t have to do with how much food you’re eating. It’s about savoring each eating experience you have in your life. We have taste buds for a reason. This is my PSA. Food was meant to be pleasurable. You were designed to experience pleasure with food. Because biologically and primitively food was meant to be pleasurable so we keep seeking it and eating it. It’s what keeps us alive, right? Makes total sense when we look at the facts. But, as I mentioned, diet culture has really changed our relationship to pleasure with food. It makes us see it as something to be pushed away or avoided. Which means from this mindset, we will not go into each meal with the intention of savoring the eating experience. We won’t have this balanced approach. What we will do is approach meals from one of two extremes.. The first extreme is when we approach meals by overindulging in the food emotionally. Where we’re overeating and we’ll think we want pleasure in food, but really we’re just trying to fill up from a very urgent place. So this is one end of the spectrum. Where we’re over pleasuring with food. And then there’s the other extreme. Where we’re seeing food as a means to an end and we’re restricting our pleasure. We’re only focused on eating the “right” foods. And pleasure is rejected as a whole. So, that’s to say that we think we have two options. Reject the pleasure or over pleasure. And really natural pleasure with food is that balance in the middle. Where you’re just intentionally allowing yourself to find pleasure in each eating experience. I want to share a bit about where I used to be personally when it comes to savoring the eating experience. And really, there was just no savoring whatsoever. Many of you relate to this, but I always just felt very reactive with food. I always had an agenda with each and every meal. Even if I didn’t follow through with that agenda and I overate, I still always saw food as that means to an end. Each bite of food I took I almost saw as like this little puzzle piece that I needed so I could create the results with my body that I wanted. Really, I was just always trying to micromanage my eating habits. And put that way, I can’t think about anything less pleasurable when it comes to food. Like, really. Let’s just have a moment of silence of all my past eating experiences, and maybe yours as well, that were so not enjoyable. And it’s not even because of the foods I was eating. It’s all of it. It’s the fact that I had that relationship with food where I saw it as something to be controlled and manipulated. Where it wasn’t appreciated. It’s the fact that I was rushing through my meals because I had a horrible relationship with time and it was all very reactive. It’s the fact that I was emotionally eating half the time so my eating decisions didn’t feel intentional or under my control. There were so many factors as to why I wasn’t allowing myself to experience natural pleasure with food. When really, if I just gave myself permission to experience that pleasure and create enjoyable eating experiences, a lot of things would have looked different in terms of my eating habits. Now, things look very, very different. As I mentioned before, I really make it an intentional practice to create pleasurable, enjoyable, loving, and present eating experiences. And just to clarify, this doesn’t just start when I sit down at the table to eat. I take this into every aspect of food. So, when I’m cooking my food I allow it to feel present and pleasurable. I enjoy using my hands in the kitchen and creating new meals to try. Even when they don’t turn out so great in the beginning, I allow myself to find the fun in that. And then when the meal is prepared, I create this loving, intentional space. So, I play music, light candles, turn on some twinkly lights – all of the things that make me personally feel like it’s safe to find pleasure in this meal. And I’m creating a very present space so I’m able to experience this pleasure as I’m eating. So, I’m not distracted and I’m not thinking about my health goals or other goals during this time. This is about me, the food, and enjoying my time with whoever I’m sharing that eating experience with. So, I want you to start visualizing what a pleasurable eating experience would look like for you? What do your surroundings look like? What are your thoughts and emotions in that moment? Really picture it. Picture what those moments of pleasure and peace with food look like for you. And the difference here for many of you, and for me when I started doing this, was intentional eating experiences don’t feel very urgent. So, if you think about how you’re used to experiencing pleasure with food, it’s likely that it feels very reactive. Like you need the pleasure with food at that moment. One example I love is when I had a client who was convinced, like many of us are, that she needed to keep candy out of the house, because she would eat it all. And she thought it’s because she found candy so pleasurable and that the pleasure with the candy was the issue. Well, turns out, that desire she felt was so urgent that she would find herself eating candy often even when it was out of the house. Her desire for candy was so strong and urgent that keeping it out of the house didn’t make a difference. And with her I really made it a point to teach her the difference between this urgent desire for the candy and natural pleasure with the candy. Or with any other food she enjoyed. Because it really wasn’t about the candy. It’s never about the specific food. It’s about learning the difference between the urgent desire for food and that natural pleasure. And what’s interesting is this urgent desire for the food and the so-called pleasure she had with the candy, didn’t even feel that pleasurable. Because she was always eating the candy quickly because she was so focused on “filling up” with it. This is not pleasure. This is emotional hunger. Which can be managed. But because we think this has to do with how pleasurable the food is, we end up fearing this natural pleasure with food and rejecting it. Urgent desire for food doesn’t really even feel that pleasurable because we’re not creating an eating experience that allows us to experience that pleasure fully. Natural pleasure with food feels deeper. It’s satisfying and enjoyable. And it doesn’t come from eating more food. It comes from experiencing pleasure in the eating experience. So with this, I want you to think about the meals you most remember in your life. Maybe it was a holiday dinner, or a recipe that’s been passed down in your family, or something you ate when you were on vacation – think about meals that stand out to you. And think about which of those meals were supremely pleasurable to you. Like, just thinking about it makes your mouth water. And I want you to compare the pleasure of those eating experiences to the urgent pleasure you’re having with food. Where it feels very reactive. When you think about it, there is no comparison. These are two completely different things. And the purpose of intentionally creating an eating experience that feels pleasurable, is to create more of those memorable moments with food. So you’re going deeper with the pleasure rather than wide. You’re savoring each bite of food and finding pleasure in that, rather than trying to fill up with pleasure. So this is something I really want you to meditate on and ask yourself, “How could I make every eating experience more pleasurable for myself?”. A few ways you can begin doing this right now. First, you can eat more slowly. You can begin savoring each bite of food you take. No matter what the food is, it doesn’t matter. You’re allowing yourself to go deeper with the pleasure, rather than wider. And eating slowly at first may feel silly, this is okay, but just try it out. Watch how much easier it becomes to savor each bite of food you take. Second, you can create a calming eating environment. So, brainstorm what you could do to make where you eat feel more loving, safe, intentional, warm – so you’re able to more easily access that pleasure with food. The goal is to create a space where you can be present with that pleasure. Third, ask yourself what foods you actually do find pleasurable and keep a running list of this. And I promise you that some of the foods you think you find pleasurable right now, you don’t really. In most cases. So, for me, I used to think that I loved, what fast food chain was it? I think it was something super basic like Mcdonalds or KFC. I don’t really know. But it was some type of fast food. And I really thought I just loved it. And when I began slowing down and intentionally creating a space to experience pleasure with food, I realized I didn’t even like that food. I am totally serious. I tried eating that food in an intentional space, and there’s nothing wrong with loving this type of food and thinking it’s pleasurable, but I realized I didn’t even love it. I was just eating that type of food in a very reactive way. And I think it was a hamburger or something, but when I really sat and chewed that burger slowly, it became so apparent that I didn’t even find it that pleasurable. I was just eating that type of food from urgent, emotional hunger. I also remember I didn’t even finish the burger. I was like, this is crazy I am done with this. And this may or may not be the case for you. Just know that when you intentionally decide to allow pleasure with food in this intentional way, your tastes might become more apparent. Because real pleasure is very different from overpleasure with food. So start a fresh list of what foods you find pleasurable when you start doing this practice. I actually also had a client who similarly thought she really loved all of these sugary, more fast foods. And I really focused with her on finding more natural pleasure in her eating experiences. Where she was focusing on intentional pleasure and mindfulness around eating. And the same thing occurred with her. Her tastes with food changed. The foods she actually found pleasurable were very different from what she originally believed. And by creating these pleasurable eating experiences she was more able to listen to her body. Because she was more present with her meals. So, this led her to more feeding her body foods that served her nutritionally. And this is a great example of how underrated this practice is. I want you to create a relationship with food where you see every eating experience as an opportunity to connect with your body, the food you’re eating, and yourself. As cheesy as it sounds. I want you to see your eating experiences as something that is for you. Not something to remind you of your health goals or what you should be eating, but something that is meant for you to find natural pleasure in from a very intentional place. Alright, my lovely friend. Thanks for being here with me today. If you want to take this work to the highest level and receive coaching from me, you can apply to my coaching program at katrentas.com/coaching. And I’ll talk with you next week.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified health coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.