A Tale of Two Breakfasts (How Pleasure Affects Hunger)
Ever eat the same exact thing for breakfast (or lunch or dinner) several days in a row? Me too. Especially when I have a hectic morning and know I need easy, grab + go fuel.
Which is exactly what happened a few weeks back when I was on a whirlwind trip to New York for meetings and to shoot more episodes of Inside Scoop.
Both days I was staying with Sarah and had similar portions of the following:
This bowl should have enough healthy fat + protein + fiber to keep most anyone full and fueled for hours.
DAY ONE: I ate the banana first while rushing to get into the shower after our workout. Then I had a spoonful of almond butter while having my make-up done. About an hour later. I had a haphazard bowl of chia pudding with the berries, hemp seeds, and cacao nibs before we started shooting.
What happened? I was ravenous all day and simply couldn’t be satisfied.
DAY TWO: Similar workout with a busy day in the city. BUT I carved out a small pocket of time to sit down with the above (pictured) bowl.
The result? I was completely satisfied. This breakfast filled me up not only nutritionally, but mentally too. Because I got pleasure from what I was eating.
Now I’m sure there were other factors that came into play — meal timing, amount of food I ate for dinner the night before, etc…
But let’s focus on HOW I ate each of those meals. And why joy + pleasure matter just as much as the nutritional content of food.
Whether you’re enjoying a kale salad or the most decadent chocolate chip cookie, there is science-based evidence that a lack of meal satisfaction actually impairs digestion, slows metabolism, and decreases nutrient absorption.
When food isn’t pleasurable (i.e. when we inhale something on the go without taking the time to acknowledge it), the brain releases a chemical called neuropeptide Y that activates our hunger and tells us to search for more food (1). Neuropeptide Y is naturally secreted at higher levels upon waking and has also shown to be more present in the face of dieting, low blood sugar, and when we’re feeling sad or depressed.
And what does it typically have us seek out? Yep, carbohydrates. The quickest source of feel good energy there is.
Which is why after my frantic Day One breakfast I was absolutely ravenous all day long. My body was chemically primed to demand more food. It’s a survival instinct and has nothing to do with lack of willpower or even that I’d likely eaten enough nutrient-dense calories to fuel my body’s needs.
So a reminder — seek pleasure from your food!
Enjoy it. Don’t deprive yourself or try to diet the weight away. You can’t outsmart your body. But you can feed it and nourish it both physically and mentally. Because when you do — it will love and nourish you right back.