Wellness Bytes – Eat to Savor

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Wellness Bytes #6

How does eating and food affect you and your life?  Do you have rituals around mealtime?  Do you quickly inhale your meals and run on to the next activity or chore?  Do you eat while reading or watching TV?  Are you curled around your favorite snack or dessert, blanking out the unpleasant day you’ve had?  Are meals a special time for you or just something that must be done?  Or do you tend to skip meals? Is there a way to completely savor your food?

I have been avoiding publishing a blog article on nutrition for a good reason.  There is an overabundance of articles, studies and information telling us WHAT to eat.  The studies are often conflicting, bewildering, and based on weak evidence.  The problem? Controlled studies about food and humans are very difficult to conduct – you would have to lock at least 200 people in a facility for several weeks so they have no access to outside foods to really find out useful information.  In addition, how would you account for the differences that might occur from lifestyle habits such as smoking, or genetic predisposition, in analyzing the data?  Without extensive, reliable studies, it is up to us to pick the most sensible advice that we can.  The advice that I give myself is that if my body would probably not recognize what I am eating as food, I would be better off not eating it. 

So why am I writing about eating and food?  As a wellness coach, I see nutrition playing an integral role in our health and well-being.  Now I am not referring to weight gain or loss here, so please read on.  Nutrition (snore) is about nourishment (ahhh): basic love and care for our bodies and selves.  Eating is so much more than consuming calories: it is social, it can be a peak experience, it is escape and comfort, or it can incorporate some mindless habits.

Our eating habits affect our ability to move and exercise, our concentration, our energy level, our relationships, the environment, and so many other areas of our lives.  Much of the time, we eat without really paying attention to how that meal is affecting us.  I make an effort (not always successfully) to pay attention to how my diet affects other parts of my body.  If I am weight training, I need extra protein to avoid muscle fatigue.  If I eat too much sugar, I feel a momentary state of euphoria, then I get sluggish and tired afterward.  What mind-body connections have you noticed with your food?

What would it be like to truly have a mind-body connection with your food?  I invite you to set aside about 5-10 minutes for a simple exercise in experiencing your food.  Select an orange, then pick a quiet place and go through the following steps, trying your best to just notice what happens, without classifying or judging it.

  • Sit with the orange in your hand and study its appearance: What color is it? (thinking “orange” pops into our minds, but try releasing that label and simply notice the color).  How does the color affect you? Observe the texture with your eyes and your fingers.
  • Now, smell the orange with your eyes open and then with your eyes closed.  What is this like? Does it evoke any body feelings? Does your mouth water? Are there any emotions that you feel? Does the fragrance evoke a memory?
  • Next, begin peeling the orange and tune in to the sound this makes, the feeling of the peel on your fingers, the appearance of the fibers and interior of the fruit, the juices as they contact your skin, and the temperature of the fruit.  Again, notice the fragrance.
  • At last, select a wedge, break it in half and lay a piece on your tongue.  DON’T chew it yet.  Feel the weight of the orange wedge, the sensation of the juice on your tongue, and any other aspects of the feelings in your mouth.
  • Now, chew, focusing on what the orange feels like against your teeth and mouth. Swallow that first bite and see if you can feel or imagine its path down the esophagus and into the stomach. How does that feel in your body? How is this eating experience for you? How does focusing on eating this orange in a mindful way, differ from your typical eating habits?

What would it be like to incorporate this technique into a meal?  How would mindfully eating your food affect how much you eat or how much pleasure you derive from eating?  Would this eating style take you from nutrition to nourishment?

Try it and see….

For more investigation on the subject of eating with full awareness, explore the links below.

Enjoy your orange!


Rituals Make Our Food More Flavorful

The Center For Mindful Eating

Mindless Eating: Why We Eat More than We Think





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