I’m rather ashamed to admit it, but I was doing the following:
- eating whilst standing up in the kitchen – whilst cooking or just being in the room
- eating in the car
- eating whilst walking around the house
- shoving things into my mouth too quickly
- forgetting what I’d eaten because of grazing in between meals
- eating from the saucepan to save on washing up
- if I’m alone, never just eating – always doing something else as well. Reading for instance
One or other of these was a daily occurance and all of it was, or is, distinctly mindless. I only really became aware of it once I started to reflect on how I was eating.
So I’m trying to change
29th September – I decided to start by start by tidying up my kitchen table. We only have one table and no dining room so the table tends to get terribly cluttered. Most of the clutter has gone (although no further than to a box beside the table) and I hope to get some flowers as a centre piece, but haven’t managed it yet. I think this might be a diversion from attempting the real thing. The table looks better though!
30th September – I find eating with no other distractions very hard indeed. I usually listen to the radio or read when i’m eating and now that’s gone, it’s just me and the food. Being in the moment with the taste and texture of the food is incredibly hard to stick at. I manage it for a few seconds and then my mind wanders. Inadvertently this has become a more general mindfulness task – how to stick at simply being in the moment, in the here and now.
2nd October – Breakfast time; with no radio I’m practically deafened by my own chewing. I never realised it was so loud!
I have now noticed that i’m tending to put one mouthful of food onto the fork whilst I’m still chewing and swallowing another. Am trying to slow down.
I cannot do the chewing- thoroughly thing. I loathe the sensation of over- chewed food in my mouth. There are limits! I’m sticking to merely chewing properly, which will be an achievement if I stick to it.
3rd October – I am struggling to find the time to stop, relax, and just enjoy my meal. Why? I suspect that because I’m so busy i’ve allowed eating to be marginalised and rushed – something to do whilst i’m doing another task. That is quite a profound realisation. On so many levels our body and our mind need down time during the day and what better opportunity then during a meal. I need to make time.
7th October – I cannot reconcile myself to not eating lunch and simultaneously working. I just don’t feel as if I’ve got time to devote simply to eating. Partly to compensate for this I’m making an effort to focus solely on the food at teatime. I’m not allowing my son Benjamin to read at the table, even though it’s probably a habit he’s picked up from me. And we all sit together until we’ve all finished. No phones either! So “Just Eat” means precisely that, chez nous, not a takeaway website.
8th October – I keep on forgetting about my experiment. I got home from work quite late this evening and immediately started eating my homemade bread – straight from the loaf . Then I remembered….. and ate some more.
9th October – It’s 10am and i had breakfast about an hour ago. Iam in the kitchen and really want to nibble on raisons, although i’m not hungry. But managed to say no to myself.
Later on I reached for my lunch which was on the worktop and immediately started eating. Managed to check myself, sit down and then eat.
10th October – It’s first thing in the morning and I’m preparing the packed lunches. I’m really tempted to nibble at a few bits but managed to resist. I focused instead on the sensation of being hungry. After all, i have food, i can afford to eat – there is no need to be anxious and I can look forward to really enjoying my breakfast.
In the afternoon I had 10 minutes in between classes so I sat down with no phone – normally I’d be on it with ten minutes to spare but I simpy enjoyed my apple . It was delicious. I can still taste it as I write.
12th October – I have noticed that I’m mindlessly eating sweets whilst driving. They’re sugar free so my teeth are ok but high in chemicals and probably Sorbitol which is hardly one of nature’s super foods. What a fruitless activity, (in more ways than one!) Have resolved to calm down and just have the odd sweet and really enjoy the sweet flavour.
14th October – Eating lunch and am also reading about mindfulness and therefore have forgotten to to be mindful. Doh….. Will stop to enjoy the food. It’s only bread but it is flavoursome and worth enjoying.
15th October – I have noticed that I am shovelling my daily lunchtime salad because there is so much of it. As of tomorrow I’m going to reduce the amount that I make and take the time to savour the various vegetables because I do love them all.
17th October -Sat down and had, at the end of my pack lunch, a peach. So enjoyable. Don’t get me wrong, I still prefer chocolate but fruit – ripened and tasty does compete. But it’s the end of the season for this kind of fruit but I will look forwards to it next summer.
21st October – Another new plan. I really, really want to nibble something when I do the pack lunches so I thought, why not eat something and then quit dwelling on it? So as of now, I have a few banana chips and enjoy them.
I decided to be good and eat a pear as a snack. It was starting to go off but i didn’t want it to go to waste so I cut off the bad bit, sliced up the remainder and sat down to eat. Well i was amply rewarded: it was delicious. Full of flavour but what struck me, and it have never noticed before, was it’s coldness.
Benjamin made rice salad in DT (Design Technology, which includes what I think of as Home Economics). As a result, my daughter Elinore wanted to make something as well, so she made a fruit salad with my help. Now that is an enjoyable, memorable eating experience – a meal created by your children.
18th October – I’ve been really concerned about the weekends. Things have gone totally to pot. I mean a total write off. So I awoke determined to do well today. It started out ok but then Benjamin broke his thumb and I spent the afternoon in an NHS walk-in clinic and paediatric A&E and ate, amongst other things, half a giant Toblerone. So the afternoon went to pot literally as well as metaphorically.
19th October – Much better today. Ate breakfast with the kids – homemade porridge with molasses, pack lunch , mid afternoon snack and lentil dhal and fruit for tea – with a bit of random nibbling whilst cooking but nothing too bad. Part of the success lay in deciding to be sensible and planning what to eat. It was then so much easier to stick at it.
21st October – capitulated and ate loads of homemade biscuit mixture. It was so, so nice – like museli, but better. Later I ate a couple of baked ones whilst bustling around. Sitting down time was in non existent supply and I had no one to enjoy them with. Kids have got friends around so they’re eating together. I think i”m just making excuses really.
22nd October – So far, my best success is at breakfast time. I’m just about managing to find time to sit down and enjoy it. I eat after the school run during the week so i’m on my own. I’m relaxed and the meal is short enough for me to be in the present throughout. I’ve found a new breakfast cereal: Oatibix to which I added cornflakes and am very taken with the mixture of textures: soft and crunchy.
I have been trying for a few weeks to chew and swallow properly and not dash from the table with the last mouthful of food still in my mouth. But there is something else that I haven’t been doing and that is to pause before eating. Just for a moment – time to look at the colours and smell the food. I’ll give that a try from now on, (if I remember).
25th October – On a Course today. The Organiser had bought snacks for us. As soon as I saw them I started eating – crisps and popcorn. All thoughts of Mindful eating were totally absent. It didn’t even occur to me till much later in the day. Old habits – they do indeed die hard.
26th October – I made a really determind effort to sit and eat some of my dinner and not work on the computer terminal at the same time. I really enjoyed my (now much smaller) salad, sandwich and banana bread. I was really struck by how noisy it is in the reception area of the University Sports Centre. I’ve never noticed how cacophanous it is! I have also noticed that my neck is tight so I’ve taken the opportunity to relax in the chair as well. Maybe I cannot chill out over lunch every day, at least some of the time is emminently possible. After all, no matter how much I have to do, what difference is ten minutes going to make, and going “off line” for a few minutes may actually make me more productive.
29th October – I’m doing much better with avoiding snacking whilst preparing meals. This needs discipline rather than time so I can do it, if I remember. I’m pretty much managing to avoid eating in the car.
4th November – I’m not managing very well. Keep on snacking randomly. Partly this is because I’m forgetting about my project. I have decided to seek out inspirational quotes , write them down as reminders for the kitchen.
I have realised that cutting food into small pieces really makes it last – spreads out the enjoyment! It is especially good for really flavoursome things like chocolate, but also very good for fruit and vegetables.
5th November – Really struggling to remember to pause before eating. However, i have bought a new tablecloth which looks great on top of my (mostly) clean and tidy table and I am remembering to pause and admire it!
9th November – I haven’t found any quotes to inspire me. Personally I quite like: “Alison, you’re a see-food eater. Try not to be”
10th November – Another consequence of reflecting on my eating habits and eating is that i’ve become more aware that I get very hungry in the mid afternoon and I tend to nibble loads. Ages ago I bought some protein powder but wasn’t getting around to eating them. I have now started to have one scoop every week day, regardless of whether I feel hungry, so I’m not waiting until its too late. It is really helping. I can cook a meal and not really nibble, or eat another snack and it tides me over if I’m eating late after work.
- I’m up against two challenges here. The first is ingrained bad habits and habits, be they good or bad, are difficult to break. I’m forgetting to be “good” a lot of the time. I’m mostly ok if I remember. The second is the fact that eating has been downgraded to the status of supplementary activity, to be done whilst doing something else. So I’m failing to capitalise on all the enjoyment of sitting and eating which is daft, seeing as I do like eating, and I like my food and eating allows me to mentally and phyiscally rest.
- Some things have gone really well. I’m sitting and enjoying a plesant breakfast in between the clatter and clutter of getting the kids to school and going to work. At least part of the time I’m sitting and enjoying dinner. I’m nibbling a bit less and not at all “on the go”
- I hope I’m not kidding myself here but I think part of the problem that I have is that I live in my kitchen. The living room is basically the kids space – not because I’m not welcome, simply because I don’t have time to hang out there. So I’m either cooking, clearing up or working on the laptop or doing other admin stuff – all at the kitchen table.. So food is always there so I think about it more than I should. After all I don’t dwell on it when I’m out and about, or working. I’m sure this doesn’t help. I need an office!
- What is very clear is that planning my eating is very helpful indeed. I have a sensible eating plan then I am much more likely to stick to it and planning for 4 – 5.30pm is the most important plan of all.
- I don’t know if this is just me, or whether this is inevitable, but this experiment has made me think about mindfulness on a broader level. Maybe I’m relegating other things in life, whilst being subsumed and consumed by other stuff – work mainly. There is a great quote attributed to John Lennon: “life is the thing that happens when you’re making other plans”. It is so true and I would do well to remember it. Food and drink, is, quite literally, life and I need to raise it’s status in my life. Whilst I’m at it, I could also relax and allow that other life giving force to nourish me – the breath
15th November : I’m proof reading the piece prior to posting it on the website and it’s made me confront the fact that a few bad habits have come back. Too many sweets in the car, not chewing properly, forgetting to pause before eating, cutting food into small pieces. Ingrained habits are hard to break but not impossible – I think I might have to read this regularly!
I did an NLP course last weekend and we practised various techniques to use with clients. One was about breaking bad habits and I chose to try and break the habit of eating nuts during the day. Not only was I eating too many but they disagree with my digestion. Well, the technique worked amazingly. I haven’t eaten a nut for about ten, and I haven’t even wanted too! I really must try this out on other people.
I bought a keyboard, laptop stand and got the camping table out of the cellar and created a portable office that can be set up in my studio. It feels much better to be out of the kitchen.