It has been a over month since I started on this new eating adventure: sitting down at a table to eat with no entertainment to distract me. I confess that I have been far from perfect with it (this week finally managed to sit down to eat breakfast – twice). Still, there is a lot of knowledge I am gaining – and questions that have popped up to ponder.
1. When eating at the table, it takes three times as long to chew each bite. Before, I averaged 24 chews. Now It’s in the upper 60s. Not sure why, but this organically seemed to happen.
2. Found that many things I would eat at my desk weren’t worth the time to consume in the break room; munching at my desk is simply to relieve stress or boredom. Chewing gum or indulging in a cup of tea are just as effective.
3. I really really, really love tea. Black, green, herbal, I’ll take any and all of it.
4. Eating without distraction has also revealed that many “unhealthy” foods (processed, sweets, fatty stuff) isn’t really all that tasty when compared to healthy foods I prepare at home. This makes me wonder why I crave them. What about them attracts me when I’m stressed, tired, depressed, bored and so on? One thing is irrefutable: I never feel better afterward.
5. I seem to need a mindless snack after work to unwind. It helps me transition from work to home life? Why not a walk around the block or a few Yoga stretches? Is it just habit? Laziness? Thoughtlessness?
6. Eating in silence is getting much easier. It is slowly (to say there is not struggle would be a lie) becoming a time of relaxation, reflection and even prayer, so is actually feeding more than just my stomach. Is this what meals are intended to be?
7. Taking this time has helped me realize that my life is enveloped in stress. Yes, extraordinary things keep happening such as Troy snapping his Achilles tendon and Tommy dropping with his first Grand Mal seizure in seven years, but even the normal day to day stuff. There’s just so much noise, interruption, and constant stimulation that it feels like my body and mind have made a sort of nerve Novocaine to keep me from getting overwhelmed. This is how I’ve been living for as long as I can remember: running from one activity to another multitasking the whole way, unable to say what I did at the end of the day because I didn’t connect with much of it. Tasting food, really tasting it, has awakened me to this. Is there a way to slow down enough to taste my life without getting overstimulated?
8. Eating is just one of the many things that don’t get my full attention. I drive and catch up on the news; cook and answer email; clean and listen to a book on tape. As a matter of fact, most of my best conversations with my kids and hubby happen while shopping, cooking, or in the car – eyes forward, never face to face. Why is that? Should this be a concern or does it really matter as long as we’re talking? I only worry because this is not the case with my friends. Girlfriend chats are very focused, unbroken eye contact affairs. What’s that about? Does it mean something that I can engage with friends like this but not family members (well, except for my dad, who should get a Lifetime Achievement Award or honorary doctorate in conversation)?
As stated in previous posts, this experiment has been very revealing, but so far is bringing up more questions than providing answers. It also takes loads of self control – more self control than it has ever taken me to cut whatever food the fad diet of the moment has declared a toxic no-no, which still makes me scratch my head in wonder: in such a noisy world that we all complain about, why do I fight quiet?