I had the interesting experience the other day - I was waiting for a friend in a café - and while waiting I was observing a person who appeared to be on her lunch break (there was a window in between us - so it's not as awkward as it sounds!). She sat down, rather rapidly, appeared to inhale a sandwich, and then picked up a decidedly delicious looking custard square and began to do the same. While doing this, she was reading her mobile phone and when she needed two hands she stared out to space looking somewhat troubled. She finished the custard square (I really like custard squares, I was a little envious) and sat for a while, continued on her phone and looking distractedly out into the universe.
I felt sorry for the custard square.
And for the person in question too.
My thought was that this meal, this delicious custard square is possibly one of the most enjoyable things she might do all day. You know, some days are just, well, average. You get up, you shower (also an enjoyable experience usually) you get your clothes on, you go to work, you do your day, you come home you cook the dinner, open the mail etc etc and then - you exhaustedly fall into bed, ready to repeat it all the next day.
I felt that this lady missed out on what could have been the highlight of her day - because she just wasn't there with her custard square. She was so distracted, I am not even sure she knew what she was eating. And it wasn't like she was time poor - as she did sit for a while after she finished eating.
What a waste of a moment.
Of course, I do the same. I probably do it most days. Inhale my food while distracted, in front of a laptop, reading Facebook or just totally away with the fairies.
But we totally miss out. We miss out on something so pleasurable. We miss out on experiencing and acknowledging that this really does give us pleasure. And if someone asked you, how was your day - did anything good happen - you would not say "Yes, I experienced the most delicious custard square"
OK. So I might be going over the top - but you get the idea.
Eating is a wonderful time to just take a moment. Just 20 seconds. Just stop. Bring yourself to the now.
A couple of clients I have seen in the last week, commented on their issues with eating. They (I didn't think) were particularly bad, but clearly they weren't happy with it. It mostly related to 'binging' occasionally on junk food.
Mindful Eating is part of the Mindfulness trend – and its benefits are significant.
Eating Mindfully has helped people lose weight, make better food choices, enjoy their food more, eat less in general and also creates an awareness of what emotions might drive food eating behaviours.
I have to say that Mindful eating has also naturally reduced my consumption of meat. You tend to make different food choices – and if you choose to have a treat – you really enjoy it.
It is about taking your time and paying attention to your food. And it's not just about the consumption... it's about the preparation, where the food comes from and what the energy of that food is going to do after it is consumed.
Although I don't want to make eating an analytical process, questions you can ask yourself are:
- Where did the food come from? Is it from the neighbours garden and given as a gift?
- How is this food going to feed me and my body?
- What processes have gone into place to get the food to your kitchen?
- How does the food look? How does it smell? How do you feel about eating it? Are you really hungry? Are you looking forward to it?
Do you feel comfortable with all the above?
When you are eating it notice the texture, the temperature and of course the taste. Put your fork /spoon down in between each mouthful.
When finished - how do you feel?
And if you are not comfortable with all those questions (and it can be a little off putting and chore like) – at least give yourself a few minutes while consuming a meal to enjoy it. Turn off all distractions and pay complete attention.
And when you have eaten your meal, where is this food going now? What is the foods energy going to be used on? How are you going to expend that energy?
Makes you think doesn't it...
Every now and then – just be with the Custard Square :-)
Disclaimer – apologies to all those that hate custard squares (I know you are out there) please insert dessert of your choice :)
(Photo courtesy of Ainsley DS Photography)
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