For the past 10 years or so, I’ve become very interested (some may say obsessed) of how humans eat.
After become an avid reader on the subject (mindful eating), I started to offer such workshops while living in New Jersey.
What struck me most, both in my studying of the subject and in my personal investigation of myself, is how unaware most people are when they eat.
Distractions of any sort (see below) can and do lead people to not be present when they eat:
- Reading the newspaper or a book while eating
- Eating while doing another activity (checking your email, texting, watching a movie/TV, driving, etc.)
- Loud noises (including parties, children screaming, eating at bars, etc.)
- Having a conversation with someone else
- Trying to beat the clock
- The amount and variety of food that is available to you (like at a buffet, social event, etc.)
- The size of your plate
- Your mindset (I have to eat “x” every morning. I have to eat “y” grams/ounces of it.)
- Eating for any reason other than you are hungry (because of the time on the clock, because you are tired, because everyone else is eating, because you are stressed).
- Being in the presence of others who are eating in any of the ways aforementioned.
Maybe someone may wonder why distractions during eating are a bad thing? Well, I wouldn’t necessarily claim them as “bad”, but rather noting what the distractions can lead to: like missing our hunger signals, overeating, or simply missing what could be a beautiful and holy experience.
All of which have happened to me, or sometimes happen to me on a regular basis.
Personally, I feel like I have lots of distractions in my life.
Tons of them.
And often times, I find myself eating in a way that completely opposes what I would claim as ideal.
I come back to this realization a lot, make some sort of intentional change to become more aware, stay with that new change for a while, and then at some point consciously or unconsciously put it aside, and go back to my old habits or ways of living with unawareness.
Kind of like my meditation practice.
But, this morning, as I held my breakfast in my bowl, I decided to do 2 things from my acronym (S.T.U.C.K.):
1) “S” Stop before I put each spoonful of food in my mouth. Each time. Each time. Each time. Each time. (Yes, EACH time.) I just paused for a millisecond and held the food in mid-air, and
2) “C” Choose to verbalize to myself what I can notice. I noticed warmth, texture, smells, tastes, and the sensation of my mouth touching my spoon.
I noticed the pace of my chewing.
I noticed how I held my back and shoulders.
I noticed going from hungry to satisfied.
Each time I put the food to my mouth, I noticed something else entirely.
Like it was the first time I ever experienced eating in my life.
So, as the Sabbath approaches, which for me, is the time of the week with the most distractions (personally) at the dinner table because of my ridiculous habit of preparing way more food than necessary, I will continue to practice the “stopping” and the “choosing” with each opportunity of bringing food into my mouth.
Until I get stuck again.