Maybe I love buttered toast too much...
Ah, my old enemy. Food. It’s not that I don’t love it. I love it too much. I have a serious addiction to buttered toast. White bread isn’t allowed in our house anymore because it has this nasty habit of turning into toast and getting slathered in tasty fat.
By default, we tend to multitask and cram food in our mouths while doing other things. This is also known as mindless eating. Most of the toast I’ve ever eaten went down the hatch without me being present.
Do you eat while watching TV? If you’re simultaneously playing a mind-numbing game of Candy Crush and pretending to listen to your girlfriend complain about Karen while jamming Doritos in your mouth, you know you aren’t mindfully eating.
Food is one way many of us deal with stress, and 2020 sure did a number on us. Last spring, when lockdown hit, I immediately started my fight with food. Food was winning. I put on the pounds within minutes of the pandemic becoming a thing.
Things Were Going South Fast — To My Tummy
During the first two weeks of self-isolation, I ate all kinds of junk like a mindless zombie. I sat on the couch doom-scrolling the apocalypse and watching B movies about time travel. And I made a lot of toast.
I had to make a change. I gave mindful eating a shot.
But what in the tarnation Is mindful eating?
It just means paying attention to your food. Being deliberate about it. When you mindfully eat, you notice how food tastes and enjoy it a little more. You strive to be present.
It can be a meditation, but you really don’t need to take it that far.
I Didn’t Want To Come Out of Lockdown Looking Ready To Give Birth
It was mid-April, and the world was going to heck. I didn’t need massive weight gain on top of all of my other concerns.
I decided to try eating more mindfully and get myself on a better path. I knew the extra weight would be hard to shake. I laid a few simple ground rules:
- No phones while eating.
- The kitchen table needs to be kept clean, so we can use it without moving a pile of junk.
- Scheduled dinner for my wife and me.
- Before you put it in your mouth, look at your food. Notice colors and shapes.
- Take a good breath in and smell your meal. Smile.
- Take the first bite and notice everything about the texture and taste.
- Slow down and enjoy it!
- Be grateful for everything good in your life, especially this food.
I typed up these mindful eating guidelines and printed them off to leave on the table. This made it a little more official and got a good eye-roll from the missus. I tell ya, that eye-roll was worth all the extra effort!
I didn’t push my rules on my wife at all, but she started following them on her own. That made me happy. Even if she rolled her eyes at me.
We Got Into a Better Routine
The biggest change was sitting down together for food instead of eating in front of the TV. We don’t actually watch any live TV, just Netflix, but same difference. Plop yourself down and ignore each other.
Sitting across from Nicole, we were forced to do something together. You know, interact? It’s something that slips over time, especially when you get in a rut.
Having a dinnertime date gave our lockdown days some structure. We started planning meals and cooking them together again for the first time since our kids were tiny.
When we go out of our way to cook supper together, it means we aren’t just doing our own thing in silence. We are communicating about what we might create together. More communication equals a happier relationship.
Simple Food Starts Tasting Better When You’re Present
When is the last time you tasted an apple? I mean really tasted it.
I think it had been years since I noticed what apples were all about. I was smashing them into me because they were a convenient lunch snack.
I took them to work because they didn’t need to stay in the fridge. I didn’t need to package them carefully to keep them from getting destroyed. I could grab a couple of cheap apples and throw them in the bag.
After I slowed down and started tasting them again, it was almost magical.
Here is my mindful apple ritual:
- Get a cool, fresh apple out of the crisper.
- Take it to the table and sit.
- Notice its color. Green, red, reddish-yellow. They are all unique.
- Remember that apples are solidified sunshine, condensed and transformed by a tree.
- Bite into the sunshine.
Where did this miracle of condensed sunshine come from?
A farmer grew this apple. It started as a flower on a tree and grew until harvest time. Then it was picked, packed, hauled, stored, packaged, and placed in the store—all for my convenience.
It cost me less than a dollar to get this miracle of nature to my table.
Mindful Eating Doesn’t Fix Everything
There’s no magic bullet. Eating mindfully didn’t make me into a superhuman who slowly savors the world and never gains weight or does things mindlessly.
I still accidentally buy a huge bag of chips and somehow make them evaporate while watching season 7 of Dexter.
Those 12 Nanaimo bars that magically appeared in our kitchen aren’t going to eat themselves!
But I’m still keeping the kitchen table cleared off so we can sit down for supper. We even talk about stuff. Although I still don’t have a “real” job almost a year later, I don’t go out much. There isn’t a lot of news from me.
“You shoulda seen how high the cat jumped when I dropped the broom on the floor! Hahaha!” This is the kind of update I have for my wife.
Mindful Eating Takeaways- Almost One Year Later
I’ve improved my food habits because I put effort into eating more mindfully. It has definitely added some depth to my life:
- I’m enjoying simple foods like fruit, veggies, and home-made soup way more than I used to.
- My wife and I share our food experiences, from cooking right to clean up, so we are getting more togetherness out of it.
- I’m a lot more likely to put the brakes on eating a giant bag of Doritos in one sitting.
You would think after 52 years on Earth, I would have this food thing figured out, right? Not yet. But I’m getting closer.