All of us have experienced that awkward moment when we can’t remember what we ate for dinner last night. Even worse, is when you can’t remember what you ate for breakfast just three hours ago. This is what we have become – a nation of eating people who are so “productive” that we can even tweet, phone conference, sign documents, and book next month’s vacation all while we eat breakfast. However, we begin to veer off the road to productivity and crash towards inefficiency when our original plan for a nutritious and measured bowl of Special K turns into the Lake Michigan of carbohydrates and lactose. Oops, guess we shouldn’t be on that phone call while pouring the box, huh? You may reason that you are not going to eat it all, that you can say, “no”? That would work if you weren’t currently too busy replying to inner-office emails and looking over your day’s schedule to notice that the bowl is now empty. You have now eaten too much without even knowing it. But, wait, again you reason that it is ok because you plan on skipping lunch. Epic failure continues as your coworker proceeds to bust out a bag of chips and while you are Dr. Phil-ing her on her boyfriend woes, you’ve now eaten half of the bag…again, without even knowing it. Mindless eating propelled by emotions is a guaranteed way to pack on the pounds…without even knowing it.
In the last ten years I have heard and tried all sorts of tricks to help me slow down and enjoy my meals, in an effort to then actually eat less. Many have worked like setting the fork down in between each bite or not taking another bite until the previous one is completely swallowed (don’t judge – you know you’ve done the “two-handed shovel” before). Recently, my friend Mariel (from So What’s Bloomin‘? ) sent me a link to a New York Times article that reinforced the dilemma of “mindless eating”, but proposed a solution I had not considered – “mindful eating”. With food being more than just mere sustenance, this concept of literally mulling over each bite so as to have a better experience is incredibly attractive to me. So, I gave the article a read and while I do not ascribe to any segment of Buddhism or Catholicism, these monks have got more than just beer figured out! Take a read for yourself and if you don’t start packing your bags to head up-state to join the others in silent eating, at least you’ll have some food for thought next time you stop for a meal.