Last night I was replying to an email from someone I hadn’t seen in many years when my phone rang. As I started chatting to my friend I decided to start prepping some food for dinner.
But I noticed each time I concentrated on not cutting off the end of my finger, I lost focus on hearing what my friend was saying. When he finally hung up, I realised the conversation had been horribly unsatisfying because I didn’t hear all of it and certainly didn’t give him my full attention.
Later on, after cooking dinner I told the bowl to my desk. I sat it down next to my computer, started back on that original email and forked food into my mouth in between sentences.
The result? I hoovered a decently big bowl of chicken, pasta and veg without really even noticing. I’d been doing two things and truly giving my mind to neither. Half an hour later I realised it served me right for feeling like I hadn’t had a big enough dinner (when I’d had more than enough) because I simply wasn’t paying attention.
The slow food movement tells us to do just that. Slow down. Pay attention to your food. Really taste it. Ever noticed that’s it’s so easy to gobble down a huge bowl of popcorn or a pizza and litre of something fizzy when you’re sitting in front of the television? It’s mindless eating.
One of the things I am practicing is that during the week, I eat dinners at the dining table. I put a mat down, find a nice napkin and play music I love. For the ten minutes I eat, I think about the food on my plate. Colour, taste, texture and a little heat are in that moment my whole universe nestled on a small porcelain disc in front of me.
Consider it eating meditation. Taking mindfulness to you plate helps when you are trying to eat better and change bad habits.
Try it for a week and see what happens. What do you notice?