Before I get to the experiment I've been doing with mindful eating, I have an important question to resolve. Namely: Which is cuter, Tai Shan the baby panda or the new litter of clouded leopard cubs? Please vote in the comments, because I cannot decide.
Leopards, as yet unnamed:
I've been checking out a few books on mindful eating. I'm working through "Eat, Drink, and be Mindful," and on deck I have "Mindful Eating." I'm reading these on the advice of my nutritionist. See, I'm almost always multi-tasking when I'm eating. I eat breakfast and lunch at my desk most days during the work week. Mr. RV and I often eat dinner in front of the TV. I think these habits are pretty detrimental, since for me (and for most people, I would guess) they often lead to overeating and not feeling satisfied.
Experimenting with mindful eating has been a real eye-opener for me. For at least one meal a day, I've been:
--Focusing on the way the food smells, looks, and tastes instead of having most of my attention on something else
--Eating much more slowly and pausing between bites
--Trying to make the meal last 25 minutes (because your body only registers that it's full after 20 minutes, this technique makes it easier to stop eating if you're full before you finish your meal)
--Paying attention to the level of hunger or fullness that I'm feeling. I imagine my stomach as a gas tank gradually getting fuller when I'm eating.
I think I've been eating less in the week or two that I've been doing this. If I mindfully eat breakfast, I usually don't need a snack before lunch (but if I'm on my computer and scarfing down breakfast, I do). I also really enjoy the pleasure of tasting and eating more than I have in recent memory. I'm happy to have the 25 minutes to clear my mind and not worry about anything further than feeding myself.
It's been hard to find the time for this practice, though. I often work out at lunch, so I'm done with my allotted lunch break before I even eat. And I'm waiting to get busted when I disappear from my desk an hour after arriving to go eat breakfast. But it's worth it to enjoy food so much more. If you're a chronic multi-tasker like me, try this and let me know what you think. One downside is that it's harder to ignore bad food. Yesterday, the oatmeal in our cafeteria was watery and like something from Oliver Twist. I couldn't eat more than a few spoonfuls of it, so I had a Probar instead.