Expert Insight: Finding Satisfaction with Food is Like Learning to Ride a Bike

“Compare teaching yourself to eat just the right amount of food to teaching a child to ride a bike. Do children learn easily when you get angry or criticize them for making mistakes? Will children feel like giving up if they are expected to do it perfectly right away? Will they want to try again if they’re ashamed about falling off? Or do they learn best when you observe what they do, encourage each positive step they take, and offer gentle suggestions on how they can improve? Do they want to keep trying because you focus on how much they are progressing, not on what they do wrong? Will they feel encouraged when they notice it gets a little easier each time?

Learning to stop eating when you’re satisfied is exactly the same. You’re most likely to learn when you’re gentle, patient, encouraging and optimistic with yourself throughout the process.

And, as with riding a bike, this process eventually becomes natural. Occasionally, something will throw you off balance, but because you’ve practised and learned to make necessary adjustments and corrections, you’ll keep cruising right along.”

Michelle May, “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat”

You know you’re satisfied when you’ve eaten when you’re no longer hungry, but you’re not full either. You’ve enjoyed what you’ve eaten but it’s not sitting heavily in your body. Rather than feeling uncomfortable and sluggish, you feel content and have energy.

Finding that point is by trial and error and being gentle with yourself. Michelle May is spot on – being critical and harsh with yourself won’t help you at all (so dismiss your Inner Bully if it starts telling you you’re not “doing it right” or are a failure – as usual, it doesn’t know what it’s talking about).

Instead, try to stay connected to the side of you that has self-compassion, gentleness and persistence. The side that knows if you just relax, stay present, observe and enjoy, you can find your personal satisfaction point and eat just the right amount for you.

As with riding a bike, you’re bound to experience the occasional wobble (or two). But, in time, you may be surprised to find that mealtimes, rather than feeling like a minefield, have become a pleasure.

©️ Julie de Rohan 2019.



May, M. (2010) “Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat: How To Break Your Eat-Repent-Repeat Cycle”. Austin: Greenleaf.

17 thoughts on “Expert Insight: Finding Satisfaction with Food is Like Learning to Ride a Bike

  1. Hi Julie, I love the idea of not being afraid of a wobble – that it’s all part of the learning process and it’s the wobbles that teach us how to re-balance and adjust as we go along! Lxx

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    1. I think you’ve put that beautifully, Lol – “it’s the wobbles that teach us how to re-balance and adjust as we go along”. Bring on the wobbles! Great to hear your thoughts, many thanks for your comment.

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  2. Thank you for this – it’s very helpful! I like the idea of connecting with my compassionate side, I’ll picture her at the table with me 🙂

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    1. I love that idea, Karen – your compassionate side sitting with you while you eat, being gently encouraging and supportive. Too often our Inner Bully is standing watch, criticising and insulting us, which doesn’t help at all. Many thanks for your comment.

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  3. Those are very good points! Too often, we are so harsh with ourselves when we try to learn anything, but especially when it is food-related. We need to leave the guilt and bullies behind and just allow ourselves to figure it out naturally.

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    1. Absolutely – in that way, it’s a calm process that helps to improve not only our relationship with food, but also ourselves. Great to hear your thoughts on this, Ann, many thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you for sharing!!.. I generally follow my mind and heart, avoiding any social pressure… just do what works for me!.. 🙂
    “Confidence is knowing who you are and not changing it a bit because of someone’s version of reality is not your reality.”― Shannon L. Alder

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