Saturday, February 11, 2012

slowing down to focus, and other unwelcome improvments

A Facebook friend posted a link to this article on mindful eating earlier this week.  I was convicted by it, since I eat almost all of my meals with the computer and/or the television.  While I love meals with others, a meal alone sends me running for distraction. 

This matter of eating as a single preoccupation brings to my mind some experiences with our Swiss foreign exchange student, Lino, several years ago.  One day he and I were out driving around looking for a very specific kind of bike park for him.  We had been looking for hours without success.  I swung through the Hardee's drive thru to grab us lunch  That's when I learned that Lino had NEVER EATEN DRIVE THRU.  At the time, my family was eating probably as many meals in the car as at a table.  He was excited to have this "first" while being, it seemed, equally repulsed by the lifestyle choices that call for bolting down french fries at 55 mph. 

The next year when I visited his family in Switzerland, I encountered a lifestyle completely apart from our drive-thru habit.  We took 2-day driving tour of most of the country, and drove several other times in the 10 days I was there, but we never ate or drank in the car.  We had many wonderful meals, all at tables in conversation, without television, cell phones, or any other distractions.  None of them while attempting to accomplish something else simultaneously.

When we wanted something to drink, we stopped and sat outside of cafes and drank tea out of real cups or a strange and wonderful milk-based soda from glass bottles.  No styrofoam with fitted lids, no plastic, no cramming it in while distracted with other tasks.  Unhurried.  Soaking up the beauty of the moment.  It was so strange, and so great.  I came home much less inclined to do drive-thru. 

Some friends are on a weight loss program right now that boils down to a few simple items:
  1. Eat your meal in a very prescribed way:  take small bites and chew them long, eating as slowly as possible for the first 10 minutes you eat.  Take a 5 minute break.  Then whatever you want, stopping the very instant you are full.  You're too full to bother with much more food at that point, they tell me.  
  2. Never eat when not hungry - the information they were given says the body automatically stores all food consumed outside of true hunger as fat, to be used later.  (That's a damning one, for someone like me who has eaten so often and so much just for the taste and not because I'm hungry at all - sounds to me, when I see it on the page, like the definition of gluttony.  No wonder God says don't do it.)  
  3. Start every morning with a tall glass of water with a shot of orange juice added.  This gets you hydrated and levels your blood sugar.  Then don't eat until you're actually hungry (the premise of this is we frequently misread dehydration as hunger).  They tell me they often aren't hungry until afternoon. 
So I read that article and think about my friends' diet (which is changing their eating and causing them to lose weight very nicely, yet somehow I am utterly uninterested in trying it), and I am quite convicted about my bulldozing through food while reading emails and facebook and/or watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. 

Truth:  I don't want to change.  I don't want to sit alone with a plate and no distraction.  It seems like it would highlight the aloneness of my table, and I'm currently in a passage of particular unfondness of that aloneness.  

Nonetheless, I (sort of) gave it a try tonight.  I left the computer and television off.  I DID turn on the sounds of worship music from the International House of Prayer, not wanting to be in silence.  

It was hard.  I didn't want to take small bites.  Didn't want to chew slowly and savor the food.  Didn't want to focus on the gift and the experience.  Wanted my distraction.  It was uncomfortable and I didn't like it, and I wasn't very slow.  

I'll probably continue to pursue this, as it seems my resistance is a barometer of the need to surrender. 

In other news, I am pleased to note that when I had lunch out today with a friend, and ordered my favorite at that restaurant (burrito suizo)...I only ate half, and brought the rest home.  Burrito suizo is ENORMOUS and it comes cut in half; I always think I should only eat half and bring the rest home, and I always stuff myself full of every last bite of it and come home feeling miserably overstuffed and somewhat ashamed.  So bringing half home...THAT was a victory.  Yippee!  

Picked up a few more ingredients today to do a different sort of green smoothie that sounds sweeter.  You may expect a picture process blog whenever I get around to making it.  Also planning to make a vegan version of tacos tomorrow, with lentils replacing the meat.  Looks interesting.  That'll be shared in pics as well.  

As for now, I didn't get to sleep in today after all.  Getting off this machine and shooting to be in bed by 8, if I can get the kitchen in order and things picked up a bit by then.  

Those are MY big Saturday night plans - and last night I did my big Friday night catching up laundry.  Try not to be jealous of my swinging single lifestyle, 'k?


  1. I have plenty of meatless recipes I am willing to share with you :) And, since you linked the mindful eating page, guess I have more reading to do tonight! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Cool, Ashely! I would LOVE some meatless recipes! :-)