At first glance, the title of this post may seem ridiculous. Clearly, eating is a basic skill, and if you have the mental capacity to read these sentences, you probably know how to do it. Unless you’re a super smart baby, in which case, congratulations! Now take your fingers out of your mouth and sit like an adult. Everyone knows how to eat. See food. Eat food. Right? But maybe it’s not that simple.
At the end of last year, I made a few goals (I refuse to call them resolutions just because everyone else does) for 2016. One of these goals was to be more mindful in my consumption of food. Now, here I find it necessary to provide a disclaimer: I am not an expert or even remotely schooled in the practice of mindful eating, it’s just a term I’ve adopted.
Anyway, I resolved to try to eat more mindfully in my everyday life. What does that mean? For starters, I established a few basic rules around how and when I eat meals and snacks, and what they consist of.
- Number one: taking away distractions. No more phone, laptop, or books while I’m eating. This enables me to focus solely on the food in front of me. I’ve also noticed that it makes me feel less rushed about my eating, because I’m dedicating the time fully to that act and I’m not just mindlessly munching on something while I browse facebook. Also, when I’m not distracted by outside influences like technology, I find that I get more out of the food I’m eating, which brings me to…
- Number two: Consciously taking pleasure in the food I choose to consume. This one is important because often after taking away the distractions, one might find that they chose the food on their plate for convenience or to reach a health oriented goal, rather than satiating the desires of their taste buds and fueling their body. Life has become so fast paced that we’ve forgotten the true purpose of food. Food is about pleasure, and it’s also about caring enough to give our bodies the nutrients they deserve (and require) to sustain us. Eat things that you love that you know are good for you, but a little indulgence from time to time is okay as well. Know your body and what it needs; everyone’s idea of a balanced diet is different.
- Number three: Savoring the moment, AKA taking the time to sit and enjoy my food. This one is probably the hardest for the average person to apply, since life, especially in New York City, has become increasingly fast paced. For a lot of people it’s hard to find the time to sit down at a table and enjoy their breakfast, lunch, or dinner without concern for how long it will take. I’m lucky enough to have time in my day to do this, and I have found it makes a lot of difference. When we slow down enough, we experience the foods we eat more fully, and some might find that the amount or type of food they were ready to consume was too much, or it wasn’t what we really wanted. When we eat quickly, we are racing our bodies, which often don’t catch up to telling us we’re full until we’ve eaten more than we should’ve. If your schedule is too busy for this one, just try extending the amount of time you take to eat your breakfast by five minutes. When I first started doing this, I realized that it took me only five minutes to eat my breakfast. I was shocked, and over time, I adjusted it to between ten and fifteen, depending on the day and what I’m eating. It’s not about eating in slow motion or torturing yourself, just realizing how your eating: the size of your bites, the speed of your chewing, etc. Don’t over-analyze these things or get mad at yourself if you realize you’ve been going a mile a minute- most people do. It’s a function of the society. Just slow down…Chew. Swallow. Smile. Maybe even rest your fork on the plate once in a while, or glance out the window.
So there you have it. Of course, this doesn’t mean I don’t slip up sometimes or forget to eat mindfully. What’s important is recognizing when mistakes happen, and reminding yourself that it’s okay, because no one is perfect. As a self-proclaimed food lover, I have resolved to try to make more time and space for experiencing and enjoying the food in my life, and I hope I’ve inspired you to do the same.
Sous Sus Chef
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