Friday, February 10, 2012

Are You Cheating Yourself When You Eat?

How many times have you eaten something while on the run and barely remembered it afterwards? Have you ever wolfed something down quickly in your car? Or nibbled while standing up in the kitchen staring at the interior of the refrigerator? How about while in the parking lot of the grocery store?
You are cheating yourself out of one of life's greatest pleasures!
Not only is it easier to forget the food that we eat when we're on the run, it doesn't satisfy us as well as a meal eaten with mindfulness.
Eating mindfully means engaging all of the senses with the food. It means enjoying the way it looks on the plate before you start to eat. It means anticipating the taste before the food passes your lips, and savoring the smell. Even enjoying the sound of the food as you chew!
It also means taking pleasure in the whole process of eating - the salivation, the chewing, the swallowing - even the feeling of fullness once the food is eaten. You can't achieve that sort of satisfaction if you bolt your food.
When you don't give yourself enough time for a meal, you are more likely to wear a path to the kitchen, snacking and picking at things instead of making up a plate, sitting down and enjoying it.
Even if what you nibble is nice - and each of the items has plenty to feed your senses – if you aren't mindful of them you will only be aware of their ability to make you less hungry. As a result, you'll feel vaguely dissatisfied, and there might be a gnawing emptiness in you that could be mistaken for continued hunger.
It's not the stomach that is hungry, though - it's the rest of you. Your eyes were hungry for the colors and textures of the food that you ate. Your nose wanted to smell and savor and anticipate that meal. Your mouth yearned to linger on each mouthful, to concentrate on each delicious morsel. And your whole body wanted to take a break from what it was doing before and to concentrate instead on refueling and re-energizing.
Every meal snatched is an opportunity lost. You can't have a "do-over" on a missed meal. The food that you eat in haste, even if nutritious and nourishing, hasn't been given a chance to truly feed you.
It's not always practical to sit down to a full meal, but by taking a few moments before eating to be mindful of your food, even a take-away burger can be made into a satisfying experience.
Next time you are tempted to just bolt down some food for fuel, remember how many parts of your body are anticipating it! Take a moment with your food and give them all the experience that they deserve. If ALL of your senses are engaged when you eat - that provides the best fuel of all.