Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chocolate beignets and mindful eating

I've written about mindful eating in a previous post, but the concept seems to be gaining some traction these days, as I'm finding more and more articles discussing this philosophy in recent months, so I thought I'd revisit the issue.  I read this article titled Think as you eat to get more from less from the Detroit Free Press, where the mindful eating philosophy is explained in a way that makes it clear that it is a close cousin to Intuitive Eating.

One of the ideas discussed in the article that is also an important principle of intuitive eating is that eating should be pleasurable, and that once you notice that you are no longer deriving pleasure from the eating experience, you should stop.  As the article asks: "Ever notice that the 10th bite of cake never matches the taste of those first few?"  You might not realize this subtle decline in pleasure if you're distracted and not fully present while eating, and you may just keep on eating unconsciously.  Practicing mindful and intuitive eating, however, allows you to stop eating a food you never thought you would be able to put down because you are able to acknowledge the point at which the experience of eating it is no longer satisfying to you.

This reminds me of a mindful/intuitive eating experience I had recently that made me feel really good.  My husband and I were eating at a restaurant in San Francisco called Brenda's French Soul Food, and we ordered some chocolate beignets, which are basically fancy donuts filled with melted chocolate (I'm salivating just thinking about them!).  They arrived warm and doughy, with a slightly crisp exterior.  I bit into one and I swear I saw God.  Okay, maybe that's exaggerating...but it was definitely a party in my mouth!  Seriously, I could hardly speak (and it wasn't just because my mouth was full of chocolatey, doughy goodness!)!

The experience of eating the beignet continued like this until I was about halfway way through finishing it, and then I started to notice that it wasn't doing it for me anymore.  Yes, it was still good, but that initial wave of pleasure that I had felt upon my first few bites was no longer there, and it felt like I was just going through the motions to finish it.  Because I was so present, or mindful, while eating the beignet, I decided to acknowledge this feeling and put it down.  I sort of surprised myself when I did this, and it felt great!  Because of this, rather than remembering how full and sick I felt from indulging in such a rich, heavy food, instead I remember how wonderful each and every bite tasted, and I have only positive memories of the experience.  And I never got to the point of feeling sick or overstuffed, because I put it down before that could ever happen.

I can't say I always eat mindfully, but I've been trying to do it more lately, because it really does feel great.  Can you think of a time when you've eaten mindfully?  Do you think this is something you could do at least most of the time when you eat?

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