Yesterday I wrote about the difficulty of paying full attention to the present moment. One area where a lot of us could probably stand to be a little more mindful is our eating habits.
Between meals grabbed on the run at fast-food restaurants and meals consumed in front of the TV, is anyone truly enjoying their food?
How often have we stuck another forkful of food into our mouths while still chewing the last bite? Did we stop to think about the sight, smell, texture or temperature of the food? Do we know how much we've actually eaten?
I am so guilty of doing other things while eating. Unless my partner and I have invited company for dinner, we almost always eat — and I hate to admit this — in front of the TV, our plates on the coffee table. It's cozy and familiar, but not conducive to good eating habits.
Sometimes I find myself regarding food as a necessary evil, wishing I could spend my time doing things other than cooking and preparing meals. I've never really appreciated food the way some of my friends seem to.
There are reasons to eat mindfully other than enhanced enjoyment of food. Health experts agree that mindless or distracted eating contributes to overeating, which leads to weight gain and sometimes even digestive problems. So if you want to lose weight, mindful eating sounds like an easy and sensible approach to help you on your way.
A lot of helpful information about mindful eating can be found on the Internet. I was surprised to find that there's even a Center for Mindful Eating, dedicated to promoting the concept.
So what exactly is meant by mindful eating? It means turning off the TV or putting aside that book or newspaper during meals and focusing your senses on the food before you. It means taking one bite at a time, paying attention to the taste, texture and temperature of the food, and the sensation of it in your mouth. It means chewing each bite slowly and noticing the transition from chewing to swallowing.
OK, it sounded good to me, so I decided to try a mindful-eating exercise, but I made the mistake of trying it with one of my favorite snacks: sardines. Now I can safely put sardines on my list of former favorite snacks. What was I thinking?
I'm sorry, mindful-eating proponents, but some things are better eaten with distraction.