Welcome to Custom Calm blog. Most of the content comes directly from my book, Splash Into Calm. This theme for November is Digestion and food is at the top of the list.
November marks the onset of holiday celebrations. We spend time with friends, family, or co-workers with a drink in one hand and food in the other, as we simultaneously chat and nibble, unaware of what we are eating and drinking.
Thanksgiving and other holidays revolve around food. We spend hours shopping, cooking, planning, and decorating for the long-awaited feast. We sit down to a plethora of sides, entrees, and desserts, surrounded by friends and family. (Some of whom give you indigestion without taking a single bite!)
Now it is time to eat. We scarf down the food and before we know it we feel boated, uncomfortable, and ready for a nap. What happened? Did we really taste the food or only the first bite? We over-ate without even realizing that we were full.
Many articles about overeating give some insightful solutions. The New York Times ran an article entitled “Mindful Eating as Food for Thought.” It addresses how we can enhance the experience of eating by being aware of the food as well as how the body feels.
Jon Kabat-Zinn, one of the pioneers of mindfulness states “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally.”
The term “mindful eating” seems kind of uninviting, so I will make it a bit more enticing. When you are present with what you are eating you will take delight in your food, eat less, and feel more satisfied. So you are not dieting (do I have your interest now?), but rather enhancing your relationship to food.
Here is an example to illustrate my point:
When I was training with Jon Kabat-Zinn, we participated in 36 hours of silence. This included no music, no eye contact, no shopping, no phones, no writing, no hobbies, or reading (I admit I cheated and read the road signs and t-shirts.) When it came time to eat, I slowly selected my food and arranged it on my plate in a way that appealed to me. I carefully chose a picturesque view and sat down. Every morsel I ate tasted delicious. I could sense the texture, color, aroma, sound, and flavors, immersing myself in the entire process of eating. What I found most interesting was that I became aware that I was getting full and ate less than I normally would.
Eating gives us the opportunity to embrace and savor life. When you are aware of what you are eating, the flavors as well as the entire experience will intensify. Think of it as a form of meditation. (Yes, a new enticement to meditate). If you are dining with another person, and when you are not speaking, take a bite and enjoy it; then resume your conversation.
Take a few minutes and try this:
· Pick one type of food that you normally eat. It can be raisins, popcorn, chocolate, or some other snack.
· Take one piece and first feel the texture in your hand.
· Look at it on all sides.
· Smell it and take in the aroma.
· Now, take it to your lips and take a small bite, without chewing.
· Sense the flavor, texture, and the effect it is having on you as you roll it around in your mouth.
· Slowly chew it as you continue to experience the entire sensation associated with what you are eating. Include both your body and mind.
· Continue to finish the piece of food in this way and notice how you feel.
Next, try mindful eating at one meal.
· Close the newspaper and turn off the television, cell phone, and music.
· Set a place for yourself at the table.
· When you sit down, first look at your food and engage your senses like you did when you practiced with the snack.
· Now eat, and know you are eating as you take one bite at a time, while observing the response of your body and mind.
These principles are not easy to incorporate. I don’t expect that many people will always be die-hard mindful eaters, but I invite you to incorporate these principles into your snacking and meals. As you slow down and become a bit more mindful of preparing and eating your food, you will feel satiated in a whole new way. Now that’s some food for thought!
Let me know in the comments below if you were able to try mindful eating. If you did, how was the experience like? Did you find this easy or challenging?