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.