How to Decide What Sounds Good (Especially When Nothing Sounds Good)
At one point or another, most of us will struggle with trying to decide what we want to eat. For many, this is a question you come across from time to time throughout your life that you are able to work through and then it doesn’t come up again for a while. Yet for some, it is an issue encountered every day, multiple times each day.
There are many reasons why it may be difficult to determine what you want to eat. Whether it is related to illness or injury, an eating disorder, depression, getting over hungry, or even food moralization that comes from years of dieting, trying to decide what you want to eat can be a difficult thing for many people. Fortunately, there are ways to approach the age-old question of “what’s for dinner” (or breakfast, lunch, or snacks) to help make it easier to decide what to eat. Here are four strategies that can help you get through the decision of what you’d like to eat.
Let go of the idea that every meal needs to be perfect. If you have spent years of your life dieting or restricting your food intake, it can feel like every meal you eat needs to be exactly perfect. This often means that you might be seeking a meal where every bite needs to be delectable and exactly just the thing you were craving. Unfortunately, seeking the perfect meal will almost always lead to disappointment. I like to counsel people to prepare and eat meals and snacks that are good enough. It is important to eat foods that you like and enjoy so you don’t feel like you are depriving yourself, but aiming for meals that are a perfect 10 every time can make food decisions impossible.
Use foods you usually like and enjoy as a starting point. If you tend to really like bread, for example, think about ways you might be able to include bread as part of your meal. You might make your bread into a sandwich and have soup and a cookie along with it. Alternatively, you might make garlic bread and have it alongside pasta with meatballs and asparagus. If you are struggling to even identify one food that sounds good, sometimes starting with a sauce you know you like and building from there can be helpful.
Consider the amount of preparation you have the time and capacity for. This can help you find a jumping off point to decide on a meal that is easy and requires little prep or something that might be a little more complicated and require more time.
If deciding what you want still feels like a daunting task, it can be helpful to consider the properties of food so you can better connect to what you are in the mood for. Try asking yourself if you are in the mood for something:
Sweet or savory
Hot or cold
Crunchy or creamy or chewy
Spicy or mild
Liquidy or solid
And so many more…
Once you identify one specific thing you are in the mood for, it can be easier to build a meal or snack from there.
These are some simple tools that are often helpful for folks struggling to decide what to eat. As with most things we talk about on this blog, this can be a complex issue that can require exploration to unpack. If you’ve tried these ideas before and they aren’t working or this is a concern you continually struggle with and you’d like to take a deeper dive, consider making an appointment here.