“We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.”
In the midst of everyday rush, we often neglect one of the most basic gifts of life — the pleasure and satisfaction that can be found in the eating experience. True satisfaction from your food comes when you really enjoy it. This entails being able to enjoy whatever you choose to eat. Your body is not an unfeeling machine with a gas tank that needs to be filled with fuel. Take care that it gets to enjoy what it likes the best. Your food should be a source of pleasure just as much as of nourishment. Whatever you eat must be worth it. Food can be a vehicle to many of the positive feelings we are often too busy to enjoy.
Anyone who has traveled internationally knows that many cultures enjoy the experience of preparing and eating food far more than our more microwave-oriented ways in the US and Canada. How centered and happy can we be if we feel rushed to outsource something that can be one of life’s greatest pleasures?
When you learn to respect what your body needs and enjoy those foods, without depriving or over-stuffing yourself, you will discover that, overall, you eat less because you are satisfied with what you eat. Research also supports that people who truly enjoy food tend to eat less because they feel satisfied enough to stop when they are full. When you learn to find satisfaction in what you eat, you can lead a healthy lifestyle that is permanent and can maintain a healthy weight.
Here is how you can learn to enjoy what you eat.
Eat What You Actually Want
You can have the things you enjoy, but in moderation. Look at the choices and ask yourself what do I really want to eat? Take a portion of whatever it is and eat it. There is no point in depriving yourself of something and compensating by overeating other things. And you will still be left craving for what you really wanted to eat. When you are eating food that satisfies you, you are more likely to stop eating when you should.
Keep an assortment of foods that you enjoy in the house and determine what you would like to eat. This will make for more interesting and satisfying meals throughout the week. To prevent eating from losing its luster, avoid quickies to save yourself for two or three meaningful meals a day.
Keep It Simple
Think of food as stuff our great grandmothers would acknowledge — that is, whole foods, with five ingredients or less. You do not need to always eat perfectly or worry about the nutrients you might not be getting. If you are eating a high percentage of healthy, whole foods, you are doing good.
Do not eat on the go, walking around in the house or on your way to work. Make it a rule to only put food in your mouth when you are sitting down calmly. Aside from a few real exceptions, resist temptation to eat until you are in an appropriate environment: sitting at a table. Organize yourself to set a certain amount of time aside to enjoy your meal each day. Even taking out twenty minutes to enjoy a meal is something.
Cherish the Taste
Pay attention to the food. Put the food on your tongue and see which of your taste sensations gets stimulated. Are there certain times of the day when you prefer certain tastes? Take your time to relish every bite. Be fully present, chew your food and notice its taste, flavors, body, and aroma. Try and eat in a peaceful environment that allows you to take your time and to focus on your food.
When we eat too fast, we are left unsatisfied and that drives us to fill that void by reaching out for something more such as a second serving or desserts and cookies.
Eat Before You Are Too Hungry
Eat when you begin to feel hungry and do not starve yourself. If we eat when we are very hungry, our brain will not notice the finer details of what it is we are eating. Also, when we are too hungry, we tend to make poor food decisions and are likely to overeat.
Eat slowly. Do not rush because you feel like you have a lot to do. Ask yourself, “what can I do to empty my head before I sit down to eat?” Some people find that they are able to be more present with their food if they find a way to unwind before they begin a meal. Do not multitask when you are eating, and absolutely not with food in your mouth, by talking or watching videos or chatting on WhatsApp.
Make it a point to submerge yourself in the experience. Ogle the beauty of the food that lies before you, tune in to its smells. To keep your mind focused, count as you chew. Do not gobble, try chewing as many times as possible. Take deep breaths between bites, and mull over your food like a connoisseur, feeling and appreciating the different tastes and sensations. Put your fork, knife, or spoon down between bites to slow yourself down. After taking each bite set down your utensils and don’t pick them up until you are done chewing.
Use Your Good Tableware
Do not save up your nice china, cutlery, or glasses for special occasions. Make your own meal a special occasion. When you use your nicer implements, you are less likely to rush through your meal without paying attention to the food.
Just like enjoying new experiences, we can enjoy food a whole lot more when we approach it with a sense of curiosity and are willing to adventure. Develop your vocabulary to be able to better describe and process your experience. The more you grasp the nuances of the food, the more you enjoy it.
Make Meal Preparation an Activity
As often as possible, turn cooking into a shared activity. If you have a family, get them to participate in preparing. Plan occasions with friends to cook together. If you are a couple, cooking should not be something that keeps you apart. Lend a hand or just stay in the kitchen chatting while your partner is cooking.
Of course, you cannot spend two hours everyday preparing a meal, but you can surely do it on some days. Plan a few meals where the meal itself is the event and there is nothing else to rush to.