Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mindless no more

                                      I love this take on the government's
                                      Healthy Eating Plate, which shows you
                                      how to truly eat mindfully. It's from

Last October I spent a week at the yoga retreat, Kripalu, immersing myself in a mindful eating course. It was life changing at the time, but soon I was back to my old habits. Once again I failed.

Eating mindfully is all about paying attention to the food you are about to eat, before it passes your lips, smelling and enjoying its shape and texture. Next, you savor every bite, chewing each morsel for a long time, and listening to your body tell you when it is no longer hungry. A meal has to take at least 20 minutes, because that's how long it takes for your tummy to signal your brain that you have had enough food.

I learned the best way to accomplish this is to eat at a table, but trying to get Jack there each night for dinner is a losing battle: We have eaten in front of the TV for too many years. But I was using that as an excuse not to practice my mindful eating.

Two weeks ago, in the middle of a TV dinner, I started to pay attention to my food, so much so that I got up from the couch and got out a pair of chopsticks, the one utensil that really slows my eating down. It took me 30 minutes to eat this meal, and when I was finished, I was sated and content.

A few nights ago I put the chopsticks away, because I now trust myself to eat slowly. I like it better. I am a terrific cook, so why shouldn't a savor each bite, and stretch the food experience out a little longer?

The result: After every dinner now I am not thinking about food. No urges for a second helping. No cravings for dessert. Progress.

As I make every little change, I am hoping that they become permanent and last more than a few months. I know this is not easy, since I can -- and have -- reverted to bad habits in the past.

But so far, drinking more water and eating slower is beginning to pay off. Let's see where else this journey of self discovery will lead me.

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