EAT MINDFULLY AND ENJOY THE MEAL

Nov 24, 2015 · 4 minute read

By: Colleen Valles

It’s almost Thanksgiving, which is the time of year I get to pursue one of my passions in earnest: eating.

It’s almost a given that people will overeat on this day. It’s the one true feast day of the year that’s meant for everyone, since it doesn’t matter what religion you are, and I intend to give my thanks with gusto this year.

I also plan to do it a little slower.

It’s an effort to change one very bad habit that I’ve been having a tough time getting over: I’m a fast eater.

Like, ridiculously fast.

My daughter, on the other hand, has got to be the slowest eater on the planet, and usually, by the time she has made it through her vegetables, I’ve finished my food, cleaned up the kitchen, done the dishes and paid some bills.

We’re a little out of sync when we eat, she and I.

While eating fast ostensibly allows me to get more done because I’m not taking that much time to do it, it doesn’t allow me to enjoy my food, or linger at the table and talk to my daughter.

What’s funny is I have always been the slowest eater. My family used to call me the “last one in the cafeteria,” and I really was the last one in the cafeteria a number of times when I was a kid. My slowness cut into my playing time.

For years, that slowness was my playing time: Lingering over a meal, laughing and talking with friends and family has always been one of my favorite things.

This eating fast thing has only come about since I became a mother. I needed to scarf down my food so I could tend to my baby. But that was many years ago, and I no longer need to stop what I’m doing to carry her around on my hip.

The problem with it is eating fast isn’t healthy, and I barely taste the food that I spend so much time preparing. My daughter has even imitated me eating fast, and it’s really alarming when you actually see it in action.

So I’m trying to eat slower and more mindfully. It’s well-documented that eating slower means you eat less since you’re more in tune with what your body is telling you.

It’s not easy, but some of the things I’m working on include:

Not shoveling: Food on my plate is not snow in a driveway. I don’t need to clear it as fast as possible. I’m working on taking regular-sized bites, not giant forks full, with an adequate amount of time in between.

Chewing: What, you’re probably wondering, she doesn’t chew her food? Well, yes, I chew, but only a few times before swallowing. I’m trying to do better at really chewing things until they’re ready to go down. Swallowing big, semi-chewed chunks of food makes your digestive system have to work harder, and it makes you feel worse after eating. It probably also makes it easier to choke, which I’d like to avoid.

Tasting the food: Yes, I taste my food, too, but I don’t really think about it. I notice if something doesn’t taste good or if it’s too salty or if it does taste good, but it’s hard to really get a handle on something’s flavor when it doesn’t spend enough time in your mouth before you swallow it down.

Taking a lunch: This is a biggie. I get a half hour for lunch and don’t always take it because there’s so much to do (or I came in late and need to make up the time). But I’m trying to make a concerted effort to stop what I’m doing and take a break. I don’t just eat my lunch during that time either. If I focus too much on my eating, I tend to eat faster, so I bring some reading or writing to do while I eat, and that helps me take more time between bites – time that I use to chew my food.

These things seem very simple, but like we’ve talked about before, simple doesn’t mean easy. Eating more mindfully is better for your health, makes you feel better, ensures you don’t eat too much, and it makes the meal more enjoyable.

My goal is to take almost as long to eat as my daughter does.

Almost.

How do you make sure you enjoy your food?

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Colleen Valles
I'm Colleen, a writer, mother, knitter, pet mama and tiny house enthusiast who truly believes that everybody should slow down and simplify to make room for the things that are most important in their lives. I'm on a journey to do just that, to be able to spend more time with family and friends, riding my bike and working in the garden. Sign up to get awesome content right in your inbox, or follow me on social media.