In an ongoing series, Keren Weinstein, our Guest Life-Balance Editor, took a much needed trip. More than the need to go on vacation to a new locale, she wanted to find her own sense of balance and thus Project Detox began. Last week, we realized that a scent can calm us and create its own memory of peace and tranquility! Today, Keren brings us to the perfect moment with a meal.
I’m a young girl at a family function when I notice my L.A. based uncle sitting by the patio with the sun shining on his face. He is eating something from the fruit tray. By the looks of it one might think he was eating a slice of heaven. I immediately dart over.
‘Taste this Fig’ he says. Still standing I take a small bite and begin chewing. As if the faster I chew the quicker, I too, will taste.
‘Whoa. Slow it down. He tells me.
Sit down. Close your eyes.
Now take another bite.
Roll it in your mouth and let it touch the different taste buds.
Smell the experience.
Feel the texture & sensation.
(Wow. Was that the SAME Fig?) I recall opening my eyes & needing a moment just to snap back.
This was my first experience with Mindful Eating. I confess. Originally, I wrote it off as his ‘California’ way of eating.
And I was New York.
Fast forward to Project Detox where I am on the hunt to infuse balance into my every day life. When I see an activity called Mindful Eating I immediately sign up. The curiosity. The nostalgia. The craving for another Miraval-esque experience.
And after being gently slumber I woke up reborn. Hungry like a baby.
We sit with an appetite and an open mind in the dining room. Table set for about 20 guests. (Eating & mingling. Perfect!). Amongst us sits Junelle, the nutritionist. As she guides us through the meal with tips and teachings along the way, we quickly realize that the Only mingling was going to be with our inner selves and with the food!
We are not to talk to each other. We are to focus on the act of eating. Take a moment to notice our surroundings. The setting. The plate. The color and consistency of the food. To take a bite and feel the texture and temperature of the food in our mouths. Acknowledge the process of chewing and swallowing. The pause in between. Notice the after taste. Breathe.
It was challenging (& a bit awkward) to eat quietly in lieu of being amongst new friends but the greater the challenge the greater the reward. In no time did I learn about my personal relationship with food. About eating intuitively.
We were all shocked at how much food was left on our plates when we felt full and how delicious the experience was. The French know this. Quality over Quantity. They are thin.
It makes sense. Your brain receives a signal from the body through the central nervous system that you are hungry, eating and full. If your mind is ‘multi-tasking’ or rushing through a meal then there is no mind-body connection. You then miss the essential flavors and pleasures of the food & your digestion efficiency is decreased (and how ironic that IBS and stomach disease is on the rise). Plus, your brain may miss the messages that you are even eating - let alone full.
It may still think you are hungry. You continue eating.
No skinny jeans for you.
Our lives are in high-speed. If on-the-go we can talk, text, trade stocks, email, shop and for just about Anything…’there’s an App for that’, then you KNOW eating on-the-go must have been mastered way before that. Long ago in the U.S. eating has been defaulted as ‘another task to do on our list’. We eat meals while working at our desks, driving, watching TV, even walking.
OK, clearly we cannot eat every meal in silent focusing on the act of eating. Dinner with friends & family is Critical and there are times we simply must eat on-the-go. But between eating 3 meals and about 2 snacks per day, we have over 35 opportunities a week to attempt it. In between it all, we Can balance a sense of well-being with our high speed culture.
The picture above is my son ‘E’ at my favorite lunchtime-waterfall-escape-spot in NYC two blocks from my office. It’s important to me he learns the importance of mindful eating early on. No write offs this time.
Most cities are packed with many public parks, gardens, waterfalls, etc. and with an iPOD you can be staging moments for your meals just about anywhere. Another trick is to at least eat the first bite of every meal mindfully to set the tone. Putting your fork down in between bites really does help (thanks Junelle).
Book time on your calendar to eat mindful meals. Treat it with the importance of a business meeting or a trip to the doctor. This is time for you. A much needed break. A reconnection.
Slow down. Become aware. Chew. Pause. Savor. Enjoy.
Haven’t you heard?
Mindful eating is the meal of the moment!
Keren Weinstein is a seasoned professional in Fashion & Beauty with over 12 years in Integrated Marketing, Advertising and Celebrity Fashion Styling