Mindful eating–Question 1 and Question 2

My parents are serious about periodicals.  A trip home means I can catch up on food and decorating trends as well as culture, goverment and even cleaning simply by perusing the ever full coffee table—Health, Smithsonian, The New Yorker, some type of public policy review, Good Housekeeping,  the newest menu magazines, Newsweek, The Atlantic Monthly, etc.    This year I walked into our room and saw a huge bag of magazines sitting by the bed.  “I saved these for you so take what you want, ” said my mom. Seriously, there must have been 40-50 magazines.  It was extremely overwhelming because I can’t even keep up with my bi-monthly Ready Made subscription.

I surveyed the bag and took a few home thinking that if nothing else I could use them for collages (right, I haven’t done that in three years, but still).  This week I picked up Health Magazine, July/August 2008.  There was an article called “How to think yourself thin.”  I”m a big believer in thinking things into reality so checked it out. I was pleasantly surprised because the main focus of the article was on mindful eating.

I love the idea of mindful eating. And I probably do it 10 bites a week and that might include time spent  tasting new products for the store or a new item at the cafe.  I’m not overweight, but I know that I still eat lots of things without even thinking about it. Many times I scarf down a meal (a delicious meal) and realize I didn’t take the time to really enjoy the food.

The whole day after I read the article I kept thinking about it and wondered what it would be like to truly be more mindful in  my eating.  I decided to challenge myself to pay more attention.  I’m hoping it will help  me slow down in other ways and maybe I’ll even be a better model for my son who, like his mama and daddy, loves to eat.

There are six questions  the article suggests that you ask yourself before each meal. In a short series of entries I’ll explore them.  Here are the first two:

1. Are you really hungry?  They give a “hunger meter” which I’ve included below, pretty much verbatim.

a. Take a moment to assess your hunger.

b. Give it a rating on a scale of 0 (ravenously hungry) to 10 (Thanksgiving stuffed).

c. When your hunger is at a 4, it’s time to start eating; waiting until you’re at a 2 or 1 might lead to overeating.

d. Start slowing down when you get to 6 or 7 and reassess: Are you still eating to satisfy your hunger? Or are you simply munching  mindlessly?

2. Do you spend at least 20 minutes on every meal?

I started with question 1 tonight when I ate dinner. I was definitely at a 4 and quickly approaching a level 3 or 2 when I sat down to eat. I made a sweet potato and black bean quesadilla for dinner.  A pepper colby from Morningland Dairy provided the creaminess and a dollop of Nancy’s thick full-fat yogurt acted as a sour cream substitute. I love a good quesadilla, and the sweetness of the potato blended nicely with the spicy cheese and black beans.

When I started to get full (6 or 7 on the hunger meter) I noticed I still had 1/3 of my quesadilla left (I used one of the San Luis whole wheat tortillas folded in half and they are big).  But I have to tell you that I still wanted to eat it.  So, being nice to myself since it was my first meal of mindful eating, I decided to just observe myself eating it and figured that maybe in a week or so I’d do better about how much food I made.  Thankfully my son thought it looked pretty good and  helped me eat the last 1/3.

The second question was much harder.  I looked at the clock when I started eating and it was about 5:15 p.m.  I tried to eat slowly and quickly wished that  I’d opted for a chewier meal–some tough salad greens, raw kale, fruit roll ups, beef  jerky.  Seriously, I easily could have eaten that meal in under 10 minutes had it not been for interruptions from my son which I welcomed so my meal would take longer. 

 I think eating more slowly will be one of the tougher things for me to change. Maybe if we ate more in courses at home I’d have an easier time. Appetizers, soup, salad….Well, it was a good first try.  Four more “questions”and many meals to go.  Well, not “to go” I hope.

-Maddie

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