Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Single-tasking at the table

So, here’s where we left off yesterday. Our new year’s resolution: This year, I will eat the foods I love, enjoy every bite and stay the same weight. In fact, I may even lose a few pounds.

Seem counterintuitive or even impossible?  Maybe on the surface; but it’s actually very doable IF you’re willing to be mindful while you eat and become conscious of what your body and emotions are saying to you.

While this may sound super easy, it’s actually anything but. Why? Because very few of us take the time to sit down and eat our meals without distractions. Instead, most of us multitask while we eat.

Maybe we swallow a sandwich while answering our email, inhale a bag of chips while watching the big game, or drink our latte while rushing to our next appointment. Next thing we know, we reach into the bag and find that all the chips are gone—did we really eat that many?!?

If we want to follow our resolution, the first thing we need to do is to single-task when we eat. This means whenever we eat and drink, we do nothing else. We put our meal on a plate, sit down, and just eat and drink.  This can be done alone or with others (yes, conversation is allowed!), but the key is to really focus on our food and the dining experience with all our senses.

Weird as it sounds, some people (including me!) may find this hard to do at first. We’ve gotten so used to multi-tasking in every other area of our lives that just sitting and eating may actually seem strange or even boring. Here are a few questions to ask yourself if you find it hard to just eat:

  • ·        How does my food look on the plate? Are many colors and textures are present?
  • ·         Do I like how my food smells? How would I describe it, if I had to tell someone else what it smells like?
  • ·         Is my food hot, cold, or lukewarm? Is this the optimal temperature at which to eat this food? Is it creamy and smooth, spongy and moist, dry and crisp?  
  • ·         What does the food sound like when I bite into it? Is it fresh, or a little limp or stale?
  • ·         What does it taste like? Salty, sweet, juicy, savory, spicy, bland, or a combination of these? If I were a food critic and had to write a review, what would I say?  
  • ·         Does it taste good enough for me to take another bite? Or have I had enough to satisfy myself for now?

It may take a while to get used to this, but it gets easier with practice. You may even want to set up a few reminder-to-self messages up on your smart phone until you get into the habit. But if you consistently start focusing on just eating whenever you eat, you’re well on your way to keeping this resolution. 

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