Goal: To eat mindfully , practicing eating meditation as often as possible. Only a few times did I forget I was supposed to be doing eating meditation, but I always caught myself, though several times I just didn't want to do it.
Loved: Yogurt parfaits with Fage, fresh fruit, and granola, muesli, or Grape-Nuts. Eating fruit and chocolate very slowly is an incredibly pleasurable experience. Having food prepared ahead of time — frittata for lunch, chili for dinner — makes me very happy. Coffee is back in my life. Also, I love having real plates and cutlery at work to eat with and seeing what my co-workers bring for lunch.
Hated: I'm still lugging too much. Though it doesn't seem like it should be so heavy, the combo of my lunch box, purse, and a book or two is breaking my back.
Having to eat every meal and snack mindfully was too ambitious a goal. I just can't step away from my desk that many times during the workday.
For many years, I have hated sitting at a dining table. I'm more comfortable sitting Indian style (which I guess kids now call " criss-cross applesauce "?) or in half-lotus position . Even when I sit at a table or my desk I try to fold my legs this way — it feels more natural than feet flat on the floor. Instead of forcing myself to sit at a tall table, I should just go with my preference: sitting on the floor and eating on a low coffee table. There are plenty of cultures who sit on the floor when they eat.
I hated finding out how quickly I eat and trying to slow down. It felt artificial. Also: dishes. I feel like all I do is load the dishwasher and unload the dishwasher. I know I'm lucky to have a dishwasher at all, but I can't believe how much tableware we use in a day. I can't keep up.
Learned: So much I don't know where to begin.
Instead of thinking of eating meditation as eating, I should have thought of it as meditation. Thus, it's not something I would do every time I eat, but maybe once a day, with a piece of fruit.
I eat incredibly fast and it's very hard to slow down. There are, however, a lot of practices I can try. First of all, when preparing a plate of food, I should make it smaller. Many times I'd fill a bowl then bring it to the table and think, This is a lot of food . I already use smaller plates and bowls, but I think smaller utensils would be helpful too. Maybe I should try eating with a shrimp fork and a baby spoon. I could also try taking a smaller amount of food onto my fork or spoon. I take terribly large spoon- and forkfuls. But any one of these practices would be enough of a goal for one meal, day, or even week.
On the other hand, the perception that I don't have enough time to eat was debunked. Can I really not get away from my desk for five minutes or 12 minutes to eat something in silence? Even going to the kitchen to heat something gave me a few minutes to stretch.
At work, eating lunch at a table with other people made me feel like I actually had eaten and returned me to my desk refreshed and calm. When I snack all day, I don't ever really feel like I've eaten and I certainly never feel calm.
My posture is bad at the table — sitting up straight makes a huge difference in swallowing and how your stomach feels and notices the food.
I can, in fact, eat chocolate slowly and it's much better that way. Chocolate should be savored, not shotgunned .
I thought eating slowly would be torturous and unsatisfying, but I ate a quarter-cup of granola only a few oats at a time and it felt pretty filling.
One thing you learn when you do any kind of meditation is that you have "issues," and eating meditation was no different. I was extremely resistant to it . My penchant for eating while multitasking has a lot more to do with my issues than with my lack of time.
TMI Section: I feel self-conscious when I eat alone without doing something else. This is a holdover from college. For the first time my schedule didn't always coincide with my friends', so sometimes I ate alone. Everyone else alone was reading, so I did too. This was when I was young and cute, so if I was out at a cafe or restaurant alone and didn't look busy, men would bother me, so I learned to bury my head in reading and avoid eye contact. When I started dating my husband, I remember thinking how freeing it felt to look up and look at people in restaurants again.
But this was all a million years ago, so why do I still feel self-conscious? My co-workers don't care, aren't looking at me, aren't thinking about me or wondering what I'm doing or why. I have issues with eating itself. In the years when I thought I was fat, I wouldn't even take food out of the bag; I'd just reach in and pull a bite off because I didn't want people even thinking I shouldn't be eating a cookie. It was a means of denying I was eating at all. So eating while multitasking is a way to avoid discomfort. But I don't want to make you walk around in my psyche for too long today. TMI section concluded.
Surprises: I was surprised people at work wanted to eat with me. I thought this so-called eating healthy thing was making others self-conscious about eating in front of me.
Funny Things: One day at lunch at the office, a co-worker said, "That looks pretty good for healthy food."
Conclusion: Fully committing to eating meditation was difficult, but I learned many valuable lessons, and I'm not giving up. If I sit on the floor, set smaller goals, and think of it as meditation rather than eating, I may get more out of it. In any event, slowing down by any means I can is a useful practice.
Next Up: Tomorrow I discuss the external influences that affect the way we eat.