Sunday, 26 May 2013

Week 22: One bite at a time.

I can often be seen inhaling my food. My spoon is my shovel and I might not even pause for breath as I keep piling the food into my mouth.

Ok, so maybe that's a slight exaggeration, but the fact is that, despite my best efforts to bring mindfulness to my meal times (see Week 2), I'm still struggling to eat in a way that doesn't leave me wondering where it all went.

I cannot count the number of times in the past few weeks when I have mindlessly eaten just one more piece of chocolate (it's never just one more) or sat with my spoon hovering in front of my lips while I'm still chewing my last heaping mouthful. As I do so, I'm usually shovelling food in another direction too - helping my son get his feed in.

This week I'm going to take another step in the direction of mindful eating. But instead of an overarching goal of 'eating mindfully' I'm breaking it down. My focus: one bite at a time. I'm going to aim to finish one bite before I take another. That means no full spoon in hand waiting in readiness - one mouthful swallowed, then the next loaded up.

In his book, The Miracle of Mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh makes reference to this way of eating - where we basically operate on auto-pilot. A friend eating a tangerine popped one segment into his mouth and then, before the first piece was eaten, had another ready to go in. "It was as if he hadn't been eating the tangerine at all. If he had been eating anything, he was "eating" his future plans." That's what I do all the time - eat my future plans. So this week I'm going to eat my present!

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