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Intermittent Sampling: How to Taste Everything & Binge on Nothing

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Intermittent sampling, v.: the practice of tasting everything, and binging on nothing. Use it to teach yourself the art of moderation.

I recently mentioned Intermittent Sampling in a post on how to stop eating a million calories every night. And it dawned on me that nothing else, in the last 3 years, has helped me learn and implement the art of moderation than this practice.

Because it is a practice.

As with most solutions, we don’t just “get it” and are good to go. We have to consciously choose to take it on, stay mindful, see our failures as feedback and keep on keeping on, until one day we wake up and we’re doing it all better. Not perfect. Never perfect. But we’re mastering it one day at a time. Intermittent sampling does this.

There’s a method to mastering a moderate approach, so that you never feel deprived and you also never feel the need to eat everything in sight. It’s a conscious effort to choose balance.

“Nooooooo! I don’t want moderation! I don’t like it! It’s not good enough to get results!”

I beg to differ.

I get many eye-rolls when I talk about moderation:

  • “Geez, Jill, must be nice for you! If I open something, I HAVE TO FINISH THE WHOLE THING!” 
  • “Ha! Stop at one bite? Are you insane?!”
  • “When I indulge, I have to indulge all the way because I know come Monday it’s going to be off-limits again.”

I totally understand this frame of mind because for years, I felt the exact same way. I used to love Sunday nights–I called it “the Sunday night round-up,” where I’d eat all the left-over whatevers from a weekend of indulging because I knew I needed to be on my best, most strict behavior come Monday morning. I’d literally be prepping and making my clean food for the week on Sunday afternoons, while scarfing down cookies, chips, cheese and pizza in the process. WTF?? Yes.

We can laugh at how ridiculous this seems, and yet, many of us do this every single weekend, because we have a “lack” mindset when it comes to food. We know that at some point, the yummy treats will be gone and “off limits” so we just have to FINISH EVERYTHING RIGHT NOW. I used to laugh and say, “Well, I might as well just polish them off ’cause then they’re out of the way!”

YOU KNOW WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!

So how do we break this habit of either being “on” a diet (Monday thru Thursday) or completely “off” (Friday thru Sunday)?

The answer is–you guessed it–a moderate approach all day errr day, regardless of what day of the week it is.

And wow is moderation hard!!

It took me THREE YEARS to master a more moderate approach. But. BUT, it started with a practice. It started with, instead of depriving myself completely Monday thru Thursday, I started giving myself a little wiggle room.
And though it didn’t happen overnight, eventually I got to the point that come Friday, I wasn’t ravenous for sweets and treats. I didn’t feel deprived. I didn’t need to “reward” myself for a hard week of dieting with a bunch of crap. I know now that what I was doing was–what I now call “Intermittent Sampling.”

Intermittent Sampling is the PRACTICE that teaches you how to go from all-or-nothing to full-time moderation. It’s the thing you do to get better at moderation. It’s the art of learning to taste everything and binge on nothing.

protein bar bites

So how do you do it?

You begin with one single practice, using one food. Below are 3 ways that I’ve cultivated the practice. Now, you look at your daily meal plan and find one place where you can practice one of these methods:

1) THE ONE-FRY RULE

My brother Danny is 23 years old, and he lives with Jade and I. Like most 23 year-olds, he orders a burger and fries 90% of the time we go to dinner. So I started just plucking one single fry from his plate every dinner. Even when I didn’t really want one. Simply to REINFORCE that I can taste something and then move on. I’d grab a fry, douse it in ranch :) and then proceed to eat my #BAS or protein & veggies. This became a practice that has carried over into all meals and all my interactions with food. 

2) THE 3-BITE DESSERT RULE

About 6 months ago, Jade began this practice. Every time we go out to dinner (usually 3-4 times per week), Jade orders a dessert. Even if he’s not suuuuper feeling it, because he wants to take THREE BITES OF IT. He orders, takes 3 bites and then stops. Even when he doesn’t need it. This works because he’s taking ownership of the dessert but then consciously CHOOSING to PRACTICE taking only 3 bites of it, enjoy those three bites and being done. This practice helps reinforce that you can taste anything and you don’t have to lick every plate clean.

3) PROTEIN BAR BITES

For many women, protein bars are a slippery slope. One turns into many and before you know it, you’re bloated as hell and feeling guilty. Heck, I used to eat 5 protein bars in a row! But over time, I started practicing NOT eating even entire protein bar, and actually only a piece of it to feel satisfied. Here’s how:

I’d get a bar out and take 1/3 of it, eat it, get the taste and put the rest back into the cabinet or into my purse (ha!). Then, I’d go do something for AT LEAST 10 minutes. If I was still thinking about the bar, I’d go back and eat another third. Then I’d put it back. Same thing. This time I’d wait AT LEAST 20 minutes and if I still wanted more, I’d go back and finish it. Over time, more often than not, I was able to take a third or a half and forget about the rest until later.

This may seem silly, but to me, the idea that you can just go cold-turkey is a little shortsighted. And besides, I don’t want to have to go cold-turkey. I want to be able to CONTROL my cravings and use a moderate approach to feel satisfied with less. I want to be able to SEE any food and be able to taste it without the inclination to demolish it.

Believe me, I used to be someone who would HAVE TO FINISH THE WHOLE BAG/PACKAGE/ROLL of whatever it was. But the practice of Intermittent Sampling has helped me overcome that.

So what do you think? Does one of these practices resonate with you? Could you just try to start implementing one of these moderate practices and over time get better at it? It’s a practice indeed. And it doesn’t happen overnight, but I promise, PROMISE that it gets easier with time and mindfulness. Are you ready? :) Ox, Jill

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