Meet Rich (not his real name).
Rich has a business, a lovely wife, rewarding hobbies. He is fit, active, confident, smart, engaging, inspiring. Seemingly has it all. But Rich doesn’t have it all. He’s missing something that most of us take for granted. He’s missing one of his senses – Taste.
He’d just finished as a speaker at an event I was attending and we started talking. Early in the conversation, as we chatted about our respective work, he mentioned that he’d lost his sense of taste as a teen, reason unknown, and he never gained it back.
Yes – Seriously! (At least it’s incredulous to me.)
“Wow” was my brilliantly-inspired, eloquent reply.
“So you taste nothing?” He shared that he picks up hints of flavor on the first bite or two, and then – nothing.
“So you eat just to live?” I asked. “Yes,” he answered. “So you get no pleasure or enjoyment from food?” The reply, “Nope.”
As a self-declared foodie, I was sad for him. Empathy from every fiber of my being.
Hearing all this, another woman said, “So, I guess it’s really easy for you to eat healthy and stay trim?”
“Actually, no,” he said. “I still eat ice cream, snacks and a lot of other stuff I know isn’t good for me.”
Her response in rapid staccato - “What? Why? How can that be?”
I replied something like this. “Because even with no sense of taste, he still has an emotional connection to food. He still forms a connection between a food he eats and a pleasurable experience. Ice cream hearkens to a time of love and joy.”
He thought about it for a brief moment, nodding slightly. “Yep – probably.”
BECAUSE EATING IS BEHAVIORAL AND EMOTIONAL
Most of us can relate to occasions when we eat even though we aren’t hungry. You meet friends for brunch at 10:00am but had already eaten a full breakfast at 8:30am, yet you eat brunch anyway. Or every night at 9:00pm you reach for the ice cream, cookies or chips when you sit down to watch TV. You may not pay any attention whatsoever as to whether you’re hungry or not – you’re just conditioned to eat whenever you sit down to watch TV.
It’s because much of our eating is behavioral and programmed into us. And there’s an emotional element to eating as well.
So hunger triggers eating for Rich, but just like the rest of us, so does stress and nostalgia – emotional eating that gives him comfort.
And maybe not having a sense of taste does make things a bit easier for him but when people tell me they are overweight because the just love food too much, it’s time to step back, dig in and find out what exactly that means.
It’s time to ask yourself what in the food is satisfying Hunger, what is Habit (popcorn at the movie) and what is Comfort (a childhood memory of churning ice cream with grandma).
Just recognizing the behavioral eating in yourself is a great first step – a place to pause, observe, be aware and think twice about what “hunger” you’re actually satisfying.
Back to Rich – on a positive note, at least there’s no disagreements with his wife about what to have for dinner. She always gets to choose.
Wishing you awareness,
P.S. Sparked a nerve about your eating habits? I’d welcome a chat to learn more about what’s causing your triggers to help you make better choices. Let’s have a 30 minute chat about what’s getting in your way and find out if working together is a good fit. I offer a complimentary session and scheduling is easy with my online booking system: Schedule Now
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