Too often we are engaged in many other activities at meal time and as such we are never fully aware or present for our meal. We may be working on our computers while we eat, eating in front of the television or in our cars, or eating while standing up or on the go. The point is that most of us do not slow down so that we can truly enjoy our meals. In doing so, we shortchange the physical and psychological experience of eating.
On December 1, we held our latest installment of the nutrition and culinary lectures at Greenfields. This one was somewhat unique in that it focused on more of the psychological aspects of eating as opposed to a specific nutritional or culinary topic. Dr. Wendy Settle from the University Counseling Center led the session. We started off with a Hershey’s Kiss and were instructed by Dr. Settle to look at the chocolate, smell the chocolate, notice our thoughts or judgments about chocolate, notice the flow of saliva in our mouths, etc. We then were told to hold the chocolate in our mouths without biting, let it dissolve, and notice the feelings, tastes, and sensations. It was agreed that we never took so long to eat a little piece of chocolate. Many admitted that they could have mindlessly eaten many pieces of chocolate in that same period of time. It was easy to see how slowing down and savoring the food in front of us could lead to a much more satisfying eating experience.
Next we sampled three different featured Greenfield’s salads with one caveat, eating in silence for the first 10 minutes. When doing so, participants commented on how much more they noticed what was in the food/recipe , how they were more aware of their surroundings, how they were more aware of their levels of hunger, how much richer the experience was, and how much more satisfied one was with a smaller portion. Dr. Settle recommended trying to eat mindfully for one meal each day. She suggested reading the book, Eating Mindfully by Dr. Susan Albers, or visiting the Center for Mindful Eating.