Mindful Eating: Why Am I Eating Dessert?
TRY this: Take a forkful of chicken biryani. Mix in a little yogurt. Bring it to your mouth and close your eyes. Let your senses savor the taste of the meat simmered for hours till it falls off the bone, blending with the flavors of the cardamom-infused basmati rice. Do that with every bite. There's a good chance that halfway through the meal you'll look down at your plate—notice that it's still half-full and yet your stomach feels full. This brand-new mindset is behind the practice that's gained a lot of attention recently. Called Mindful Eating, this concept has it's roots in Buddhist philosophy. Just as there are forms of meditation that involve sitting, breathing, standing and talking, many Buddhist teachers encourage their students to meditate with food, expanding consciousness by paying close attention to the sensation and purpose of each morsel (ref: Dining and Wine, The NY Times, Feb. 7, 2012)
Mindful eating is not a diet. There are no menus or recipes. Rather it is a true dining experience based on the theory that if you experience food fully with all its senses, paying attention to its aroma, temperature, color, crunch and texture you'll develop a real sense of how much your body needs. Mindful eating leads to better eating habits. Not only will you enjoy your food more, you'll probably eat less.
"It takes about 20 minutes for food to get into your small intestine and signal the brain that you're getting enough," says Jan Chozen Bays, M.D. author of Mindful Eating: A Guide to Rediscovering a Healthy and Joyful Relationship With Food. "But research shows that people eat food in about 13 minutes, so you override your natural fullness mechanism."
I didn’t realize how much food I was stuffing in my mouth mindlessly, until I tried to lose a few pounds a couple of years ago. I've never had a sweet tooth and I don't enjoy dessert. When I began to tune in to my body's wisdom about what, when, and how much to eat, I realized to my dismay that I was ordering dessert (and consuming it) only because I was with a table-full of people who customarily ended their meal with dessert. The same with alcohol. I began to realize that if I'd had a drink or three, I would eat the plateful of food put in front of me, without any conscious thought, because alcohol blurred the line in my brain telling me I was full.
Once I became mindful of my body's cues, I began to shed the weight. So can you.