Monday, October 29, 2012

AFTER Effects

Today let’s go back to food journaling for a bit. After a few months of doing the meal evaluations and check-ins, my nutritionist gave me a worksheet to fill out about my eating preferences. I’ll add an image of it at the end. It’s called the AFTER worksheet: Aroma, Flavor, Texture, Experience, and Response.

Basically you fill in everything that you can think of about things that you love and things that you hate. It’s in five different categories about food and about the things you sense when you are eating. So it isn’t just “I love chocolate and I hate broccoli.” It’s also about aromas that make you hungry or turn you off and textures that you enjoy or that make you want to spit something out. It’s about whether you like to go to busy restaurants with crowded tables and loud conversations or intimate places with low lighting or bright places and only a few other quiet, considerate patrons. It’s about WHAT you love about chocolate and hate about broccoli. It’s about creamy, crunchy, bitter, sour, savory, salty, soupy or sweet. It’s about “warm soup belly” or feeling bloated or dehydrated. It’s about the burn of capsaicin and the cool of sour cream.

What this exercise does is get you to focus on the things about a meal that will make you feel more satisfied or satiated. If you can incorporate several of the “loves” into a meal, you can make choices based on satisfaction rather than fat and calorie counts. For example, I like to eat crispy/crunchy things and savory/salty things, so potato chips are pretty high on my list of trigger foods. But I have found that very crisp cucumbers or carrots with savory Italian vinaigrette also hit that crispy-savory spot that I need. Okay, sometimes I just want some freaking Doritos, but I know that afterward I feel dehydrated and a little sick to my stomach, so sometimes I can happily choose the cucumbers and be okay.

But even more, it gives you a way to make every meal happier for yourself, even if it isn’t a choice between the healthy thing and the less healthy thing. If I’m going to have a salad, I’m happier if there are crunchy things in it than if it’s just lettuce and tomato. I want my soups to be thick and hearty, maybe more like stew than soup, and I like lots of “stuff” in it, rather than just limp noodles and tiny cubes of chicken. If I’m going to make a steak, I prefer to marinate it in something salty/savory for a bit. These are things that I can do to end a meal feeling not only full but actually satisfied, and therefore I’ll be less likely to want to keep going or try something else or soothe myself with sweets after the meal.

Here's the sample worksheet with my preferences entered, so you can see what it's like.

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