Do you remember what you had for dinner last night? How often do you eat in a rush without really paying much attention to what you are actually eating? Sometimes I’m not as mindful during my meals as I know I should be. I love eating, I love food, but some days there seems to be so much going on that a meal turns into the perfect time to plan what will I do next instead of being the time to… just eat.
Mindfulness while eating is nothing new and I have thought about it often, but never with the perspective Leo, a friend, gave me after she had surgery. This is how she explains it:
“Life is full of opportunities to learn and be creative. Some weeks ago I had surgery and due to its complexity it had to be done through my nose. Everything went great, the only bad thing is that my sense of smell was affected, which in turn weakened my sense of taste. It was so frustrating not to be able to taste. It was the same to eat pasta, rice, or meat. Ice cream didn’t taste sweet, lemons didn’t taste sour. To think that I would not be able to taste the many different and amazing flavors that surround us made me very sad, but I couldn’t allow myself to be down for too long. The doctor said this would be temporary, so I held on to that hope and was determined to do something as I waited for my taste buds to come back. I decided to find other things that I could appreciate while eating. I made a conscious decision to discover new things about the food I was eating and I noticed how interesting the texture of food was. I used to eat fast so at times I wouldn’t pay attention to what the food tasted like or what it felt like once it was in my mouth. I began to notice how juicy a chunk of pineapple could be, the crunching sound of french fries, the creamy texture of a rich dessert, and the warm and soft feeling of bread that had just come out of the oven. It was a new and exciting way to eat. This has been an amazing experience which not only helped me be positive during a difficult time, but has now added a new dimension when I eat.”
I love how Leo turned what could have been a bad situation into something good and a lesson for all of us. We often take for granted “simple” things, the things that actually enrich our lives, but we don’t realize it until we don’t have them.
My friend reminded me to take it easy while eating, to enjoy and be grateful for each bite. Mindful eating is all about enjoying the moment, learning to quiet our minds even though they want to keep running 100 miles per hour, and allowing ourselves the time to replenish without feeling guilty. The more you do it, the easier it will be, until it becomes a habit, a happy response to the simple act of eating.