Eating mindfully

Recently, I attended a class called “Mindful Eating.” Although it was not promoted as a weight-loss program, I went anyway, on the off-chance it would help me lose ten pounds with little or no sacrifice or effort.

The class was interesting and will be helpful if I manage to follow the advice given. Among the key messages were:  slow down, pay attention to your food, and eat what you want.

Under “pay attention” is the recommendation to use all your senses, not only taste. We saw, touched, smelled and tried to listen to a single raisin.  Mine was silent, but I could smell the sugar. After settling it on my tongue for a minute,  I tried to follow the instructions, but it’s difficult to chew a single raisin in three or four bites. In terms of eating pleasure, the raisin experience was underwhelming. However, I began to wonder about the possibilities of marketing “The Raisin Diet.” Directions: Eat X number of raisins at four bites each. Plan on this taking hours each day, which will prevent you from putting anything else in your mouth.

“Eat what you want” means not falling for the latest “in thing” as promoted by the $4.2 trillion health and wellness and diet industries. We should note that foods labeled healthy become unhealthy ones every five to ten years and vice versa. Fat is in now. But at the point you’ve settled in to a regular breakfast of bacon and eggs, some researcher somewhere will link this meal to locust plagues and boils and you’ll begin your search for the perfect breakfast all over again.

In the class we practiced eating. You’d think by this age I’d know how, but I didn’t and was it challenging. We all received a Japanese dish of sesame tofu, sweet red beans and coconut milk. The first question to answer was how hungry we were.  Not hungry, a little hungry or half or three quarters full? It was lunch time. I was hungry.

Our instructions were to look at the dish and consider all that went into its creation — not only the work of the chef who made the tofu and created a mountain snow scene out of the ingredients but of those who grew the beans and harvested the coconuts. Then we were to smell the dish. After taking each bite we set down our spoons. As one who normally motors through a meal without paying attention, I found that instruction very difficult to follow. But follow it I did. And where normally I would have finished the dish in thirty seconds having made no dent on my hunger pangs, slowing down lessened them significantly.

Following the class I went to a birthday party (as an aside, it was for my friend who just turned 99). The guests there took advantage of the ample food being served and what I observed was that everyone around me ate very very fast and they weren’t paying any attention to what they were eating. That was as much a lesson as the slow eating I’d done earlier.

This is day three. I’ve lost a pound and a half. Breakfast was a little less frantic than usual. I didn’t wait forever between bites but I did slow down. Later in the day, halfway through eating an apple I caught myself speeding. After lunch I paced myself and felt full, the first time in an eon. This is going to take practice, but my curiosity is now piqued and I hope to develop a new habit of slower eating.

The biggest problem with eating mindfully is that if you start out eating hot food, by the time you finish you’ll be eating cold food. One possible solution is to start off cold by trying the ice cream diet if the raisin one doesn’t work.


About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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8 Responses to Eating mindfully

  1. Martha says:

    I was wondering where those locusts in Africa were coming from. Now I know.

  2. Darlene says:

    Great blog—let us know how it goes. If I only ate when I was really hungry, it would probably help. As we all have learned, Americans do eat way too fast and many eat continual snacks while watching movies or TV shows. Yikes—not good.

  3. Laura Hodge says:

    Loved this – good advice with good humor. I’m sure eating more mindfully would do me considerable good.

  4. Jan Orr says:

    Good one, Ann! 😉

  5. Becky Hashimoto says:

    Oh, Ann, I loved this post. Keep blogging and good luck with your new book. Miss you.

  6. stillalife says:

    Thanks, Becky. So good to hear from you.

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