In North America we are experts at being efficient, staying busy, and making money; however, we are also in a chronic rush and a permanent state of stress, and we have no idea how to eat properly. That’s right—we’ve been eating wrong this whole time.
You probably know the feeling, the rush of adrenaline that comes from good food, the urge to eat as fast and as much as possible. Rather than taking time to focus on the warm, gooey goodness of the mozzarella cheese on your pizza—gleaming with pepperoni, mushrooms and bacon alight a thin, crispy crust—all you’re conscious of is stuffing it down your throat faster and faster. You need more, now. Before you know it, your delicious meal is gone, your stomach is stretched to its limits, and yet you feel like you’ve eaten nothing at all. Despite the four slices of pizza you managed to consume in less than ten minutes, you feel cheated, bloated, and incredibly unsatisfied.
Why do we do this to ourselves?
Somewhere along the way, we’ve lost the knowledge of how to enjoy our food. Food is fuel, and it should not be the centre of our days or of our lives, but it also should be appreciated and treasured rather than taken for granted. We need to re-learn how to eat, and this post is about how to do just that. Here’s some tips that will sound ridiculously obvious and simple, but please resist the urge to write them off. Because trust me, if you let them—they’ll work.
When You Eat:
1. Sit Down.
Food is an event to be celebrated, and it deserves your full attention. So try not to snack while you cook or eat standing up or on the go. Put your food on a plate and sit down like it’s a special occasion. Be in the moment. Stop thinking about what you have to do, what you haven’t done, and all the responsibilities that await you after this meal. Focus on the here and the now. Feel your breath go in and out. Look at the food on your plate. Really see it.
2. Chew Your Food More.
Chew each bite twenty times, at least. Let the food move around in your mouth. The more it moves, the more the tastebuds on your tongue sense the flavour. Put down your fork, or the rest of your slice, while you chew. Think about the food, and stay in the moment. Don’t have another bite until you swallow your first. Count out twenty chews, at least, and let the flavours immerse you.
3. Take Small Bites.
The smaller the bites you take, the more bites you get. Take a bite that’s half the size of a normal bite, or even one third of the size. Chew it the same number of times. Let yourself breath deep, and sit up proud and tall. Release the tension you’ve been holding in, and allow yourself to take full advantage of this treat, this wonderful blessing of food. And realize that somewhere in the process of thinking it, tasting it, seeing it, and feeling it, you have started to enjoy your food.
It’s an incredible feeling when you actually do it. It’s liberating. No longer are you consumed with worries and stresses as you jam your food down your throat while standing up or running out the door. The art of eating slow no longer feels like torture—it becomes a joy. It becomes a whole new experience, one filled with peace and relaxation, delectable tastes, and food that remains on your plate for longer than five minutes. See if you can make your meal last twenty full minutes. Allow yourself to be relaxed and recharged. It’s only when you are in the moment that you are able to enjoy the moment, and consequently that you are able to enjoy the food.
Like everything else, this takes practice. We as humans are naturally adverse to change, and changing the way we view food and the way we experience it–even when it’s for our benefit–can be difficult. That’s why it’s necessary to exercise the conscious effort to be open-minded, to be relaxed and trusting enough to try something that may initially feel foreign and strange. You may be surprised at the results.
It’s amazing to think that these tiny little changes can make such a huge difference, but they can, and they do. As you learn to really enjoy the pizza, or whatever you happen to be eating at the moment, the addictive, unrelenting urge for more pizza and the fear of not having enough pizza begins to fade. The meal transforms from a seven-minute letdown into a delightful time where you are able to eat less and yet enjoy it more. Rather than leaving you bloated and sleepy, this kind of meal leaves you feeling light and refreshed. And isn’t that what we all want?
This isn’t just a slice of pizza anymore. It’s a whole new experience, a new way of thinking, a new way of life. And it is all yours to enjoy.