Just recently I went to dinner with a new friend who has been learning to embrace mindful eating. We went to a whole foods restaurant that has a mouth-watering display of raw cakes and chocolates.
We looked over the menu. Although it was full of delicious and nourishing meals, nothing inspired us at that moment. After scouring the menu my friend said 'I think I'm going to start with dessert, because they are so good here, and to be honest that's the main reason I come to this restaurant'. I wholeheartedly agreed, so we both decided to start with dessert and then reassess whether or not we were hungry for a meal afterwards.
Interestingly, after eating the sensationally rich and creamy chocolate cake, I still felt a little hungry, but now I wanted something light and fresh, so decided to order a salad. Yet if I had eaten the meal the other way around I probably would have started with a heavier meal, choosing the pizza or quinoa burger that I've eaten there before. These meals would have more than satisfied me, yet I would still have eaten the cake as that is definitely the real reason I too venture to this particular restaurant, and as a result I would have overeaten.
Why then, when we know our primary reason for going to a restaurant is for the dessert do we proceed to eat a main? Possibly it is fear of judgement. The fear of being judged can cause us to do what is normal rather than honour what our own body is asking for. If we let go of this fear of judgement there is no shame in simply having a dessert and drink for dinner, or ordering an entree or salad with dessert instead of a 'meal', or having only a drink whilst our dining companions enjoy a meal because we actually aren't hungry at all, or eating when our companions are not.
It is important to ask yourself, why am I eating? Am I eating because I am hungry, or am I complying with social norms or to make my eating companions feel comfortable? Then ask 1) what I truly feel like eating that I will enjoy, 2) what will satisfy my hunger and 3) what will feel good in my body once I have eaten. These questions will enable you to eat in a way that honours your body, rather than eating because of external factors such as social setting and diet rules.