eating mindlessly or eating with pleasure

When is the last time you could say you were truly satisfied after eating? Physically, mentally, even emotionally? The act of eating should be pleasureful and pleasureful things generally give us a sense of satisfaction in their proper context. In case you haven’t noticed, I put a high price on the pleasure component of eating. Think about it: pleasure is attached to our most basic needs like food, sleep, and sex. If (when) one of those is out of whack much of our world is off kilter.

Both Karen Le Billon and Mirielle Guiliano put a high price on mindful eating, being aware of what, how, and when we experience our food as well as paying attention to the present bite, the taste, the aroma, the texture. This is not to make eating a chore! In addition to attention to the food itself, mindful eating promotes conversation, society, and dare I say it, peace.

Here’s the summary:  We start with preparing good food (more on that here). Then, we eat slowly and deliberating. Finally, we give our attention to those at the table and no other distractions like television, internet, books, or texting. All of this is common sense and I can see many of you giving a puzzled look: really Jen, this isn’t new.

Right! But we’re not practicing it. I think it is because we look at each thing individually and not at the whole package. We’re pressed for time, we aren’t eating a great-tasting meal, we’re eating alone on the run, we have work we want to accomplish and the meal provides time and space to get it done. We take big bites. We don’t take interest in each other. We want to finish eating so we can attend to other things, like Modern Family. Just sayin’.

Source: via Brian on Pinterest

So what is the big picture that makes it all possible and worth it?

You’ve seen the movies or chef shows in which the taster looks away, chews deliberately, moves the food around in the mouth, and definitely doesn’t consider a second bite as the full experience of the first is taken in. They are noticing the texture, the aroma, the many flavors of each ingredient in the single bite. By the time they swallow they have extracted all they can from that bite and their palette is ready for another, which may be slightly different. The taster has extracted as much pleasure from that bite as is possible. Not eat slowly so as to lose weight, but eat slowly so as to have the most intense pleasure!

Then, when one pays attention to each and every bite from its start on the plate to the complete swallow, one naturally looks up from the plate. Perhaps even puts the fork back on the table.  When we look up, we notice those around us. We ask each other questions, we tell stories, we relate our days, we listen. And on a side note, very young children naturally eat slowly, so if you have someone that age in your house it may be easier to start the habit of eating slowly yourself.

We can also call mindful eating, slow food, as Ms. Le Billon does. We’ve all heard the prescription eat more slowly and you’ll feel full faster, thereby eating less. BORING! That’s missing the point. It’s again using food instead of enjoying food and the company of others.

I mentioned in this post that I struggle to put other things aside when I eat.  I think this must be a common battle for those my age, in the US. Being home with children only makes it more tempting. How engaging can a conversation with a 22 month old be? Does Poppy, now 7 months, really need me to look at her, talk with her, while I spoon pumpkin past her plump lips?

But if you live with someone you may already place a lot of value on meals which, according to many cultures, should always be experienced in the company of others. Considering I spend 2 out of 3 daily meals with two people under two, I am still enthralled with how slow eating has resulted in greater quality time with my kids and husband as well as better eating by my son. When I don’t eat with him and give both our food and each other attention, he eats less and then feels hungry earlier. I am less satisfied at my meal and I find I want to reach for a snack between meals.

It took me a few weeks of practicing this at every meal before it became second habit, but now I feel ill at ease if I'm rushed, eating alone, or if I'm not engaging in conversation -- even with toddlers and infants! It’s crazy. I now take smaller bites but it takes me longer to chew. I eat a full meal but still less then I previously would but it takes me twice as long at the table. And I’m so much more satisfied. I’ve given over to the whole experience of eating, so much so that when we grab fast food or we eat a meal with others who eat quickly, I feel physical and mental dissatisfaction. I am left wanting for both conversation, peace, and flavor. This approach to the pleasure of food has worked for our family.

What do you think? Are you a slow eater? Do you feel rushed at most meals? I'm SO curious what you think!!!


Read why French Kids Eat Everything is a book for adults, see if you're a piggy eater, and see if you can like every food there is!

1 comment:

  1. I used to be a slow eater and I have noticed the hubs and I are now insanely fast eaters trying to eat, dishes, baths, and bed as soon as he gets home b/c the kids are soooooooooo tired. :) I like your thoughts!


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