Do you value quality or quantity?
Imagine you could only choose one… Which would it be?
At Some Point, More is Really Just MORE
As Americans, it seems we’re often brought up with the “more is better” mentality, many times choosing large quantities of less satisfying food over a small serving of what we truly desire.
I’ve done it too. For me, it began with a certain brand of low-fat cookies (back when we thought fat was the #1 enemy). I convinced myself that since they were “healthier” I could eat as many as I wanted. But filled with chemicals and fake flavors — no amount of them could satisfy me. My body craved quality.
Then there’s restaurant plate sizes. At this point, many US restaurants serve individual meals on nothing less than platters. The food is often mediocre, but we’re so impressed by the quantity that we barely notice.
Another way quality takes a hit is the speed at which we eat. Eating at our desks, in our cars or on the run seems to be a way of life for us.
French Values & Culture Shock
A few years ago, I spent time in France. The first few days felt like culture shock as I observed quality as the prevailing value, especially in dining.
Everywhere I looked, I saw tiny portions of beautiful food served on petite plates. Each plate was like a miniature work of art. Diners spent leisurely afternoons and evenings chatting over long meals in local restaurants. I felt confused. The small but flavor-rich portions were uncomfortable for me — they felt wrong. I spent the first two days just craving an all-you-can-eat buffet or even a big bag of snack food.
But soon I made the decision to embrace the culture and became determined to have the full French experience. I attempted mindful eating and savoring each bite. To my surprise, once I got past my negative thoughts about it, this practice was enjoyable. The food was delicious and I felt satisfied without the discomfort of overeating.
When I returned home, I was shocked to see I even lost a few pounds.
What is it About Quantity?
If you too find yourself valuing quantity over quality, and would like to make a change — ask yourself what it is about quantity that’s so appealing to you. Has it just become a habit or is there something more to it?
For me, it was about creating a feeling of abundance. An abundance of love, joy, and even rest. My life at the time felt pleasure-poor. I wasn’t meeting many of my needs. Food was the only way I indulged myself, but only partially. I allowed myself large quantities, but rarely of the foods I really wanted. By trying to satisfy all of my needs with high volumes of low-quality foods, the quantity of food was paramount. After all, the longer the food lasted, the longer I felt cared for.
Although I didn’t fully understand it at the time, the reason I felt such a shift in France was multifaceted:
- By eating foods I truly enjoyed, and that felt good in my body — my body felt satisfied.
- By consciously slowing down, food became a full-sensory experience which increased my satisfaction.
- Slowing down and savoring meals also gave my body and mind the rest they had been craving.
- Paris fed my spirit. Exploring the city, photographing its architecture, shopping its boutiques, touring places I’d only seen in books… I felt filled with love and joy. While there, I stopped relying on food to feed my spirit.
9 Steps to Experiencing a Shift — No Travel Necessary
If you’d like to experience your own quality over quantity shift without having to leave home, try the following.
- Vow to observe yourself through this process without judgement. (Self-judgment hinders change.)
- Find a thought that supports you in this process. An example might be: I love the way I feel when I eat good food in the right amounts for my body.
- Choose a food that feels high quality to you. Make sure it’s something that’s enjoyable to your palate but feels good in your body too.
- Eat slowly and mindfully. Use all your senses to experience your food.
- Listen to your body as you eat. Observe how food feels and tastes in your mouth and how it feels in your stomach.
- If any feelings come up during this process — feel them. Unfelt feelings will stay with you until you feel them all the way through.
- If at any point your thoughts drift back to valuing quantity over quality and wanting to eat beyond the point of satisfaction, ask the following questions: “What need am I trying to fill with food? What’s the feeling I’m really craving?“
- Then ask, “What, besides overeating, could give me the feeling I’m desiring?“
- Take steps to experience your desired feelings in ways beyond eating.
And remember, change takes time. Stay patient with yourself.
All my best to you!
Photo courtesy of Thomas Sauzedde.