I receive Dr. Michelle May’s e-newsletter regularly, and in the latest issue she recounted a story I knew I had to share with you guys because it’s definitely a perspective-adjuster – in a vital way.
Dr. May and her husband went to Italy for their 25th anniversary and the best way, she writes, to describe her trip was as “sensuous.” Sensuous is, according to Dr. May:
1. Relating to or derived from the senses.
2. Appealing to or gratifying the senses.
3. Readily affected through the senses.
4. Highly appreciative of the pleasures of sensation.
For her, eating in Italy was exciting. Her senses perked up any time she had pizza or pasta or any other delectable Italian dish.
Interestingly, years ago, excitement during eating was a dirty word for me. At the time, I thought that it wasn’t right to enjoy your food, because that’s when bad things happen – like when you overeat, actually eat what you want or ditch dieting. (Boy how mistaken and brainwashed was I!!)
If I was excited about eating something, the exhilarated feeling was almost always accompanied by guilt, tension or anxiety. I didn’t let myself enjoy food, and instead shoved it carelessly and thoughtlessly into my mouth.
During these dieting days, I yearned for boredom instead. Sometimes, I ate very bland foods, trying to be blasé about eating, because I reasoned that a disinterest in food meant that I wouldn’t eat as much or I’d stick strictly to several dull dishes.
But being bored and eating bland foods just left me feeling deprived and unsatisfied and was one of the things that fueled my overeating later. This indifferent attitude didn’t make my relationship with food any easier, either. In fact, it damaged it (and me) and left me incredibly blah, at best.
So eating excitement and novelty are great things. In fact, they’re an important part of mindful eating.
Consider any time you eat a new food or a new meal at a restaurant or someone else’s house. Do you pay more attention to it? Do you eat slower and usually try to taste and savor every morsel? Are all your senses engaged and alert?
Does this usually happen when you’re at home having breakfast, lunch or dinner?
So often, we’re on autopilot, shoving food in our mouths while we watch TV or work on the computer (my biggest issue!).
Dr. May writes:
Most of us eat over 1500 snacks and meals a year so repetition is one reason we check out soon after the first bite or two. We quickly become distracted by TV, work, or driving. We also disconnect when we’re using the food for reasons other than nourishment or feel guilty about eating it.
When we are just going through the motions, we don’t fully enjoy the experience. We also miss the signals our body sends to let us know when we’ve had enough… As a consequence, we feel stuffed but unsatisfied, feeding the eat-repent-repeat cycle.
So what can you do?
Dr. May lists the following valuable suggestions:
- Look at [your food] closely, feel it, smell it, then taste it. Notice the texture, temperature, aromas, and flavors as you slowly chew it.
- Notice whether you’re tempted to pick up the next bite before you’re done with the first one.
- Be aware of your body’s subtle signals of hunger and satisfaction.
- If you become bored while eating, try re-engaging all of your senses. If you’re still bored, you are probably done eating.
How do you eat mindfully? Do you have any suggestions for savoring food?
This post currently has
You can read the comments or leave your own thoughts.
Last reviewed: 28 Jul 2011