Many daily repertoires include repetitive actions. A lot of times, these actions do not even warrant consideration. For example, while we are doing ‘other things’ or perhaps even multitasking, how often do we try to slip in a ‘quick meal’? Studies have been conducted which indicate that individuals who multitask while eating are more likely to eat more than someone who is focusing on one thing. To take the time to enjoy one’s food in a more contemplative manner could extend many benefits to people beyond mere nutrition.
From the moment many people wake up in the morning, the continual stream of thoughts begin to flood their minds. For example: prepare the kids for school, make sure that I have what I need for work, get gas, get something to eat because I didn’t have time for breakfast, that so and so cut me, etc. At work: finish up last week’s project, research next week’s project, put out today’s fires, meeting A, meeting B, I’d better GRAB something AND EAT, etc. Need there even be any discussion about after work? Can we take out time to enjoy our food? To be able to set time aside for eating gives us the opportunity to gather ourselves and allows for time to stand still.
Eating is a very important life-sustaining activity. It can be a contemplative and an enjoyable experience, as well. Contemplation, not from the standpoint of meditation but from the standpoint of taking time to enjoy the tastes, the flavors, the company, the conversations . . . in short, the experience of the food. English-speaking countries (U.S. and Britain) think of eating as mainly an activity through which one sustains one’s health and vigor. Whereas in continental European nations (France, Switzerland, Germany, and Italy), health is a secondary benefit; social pleasures and the joy of life dominate continental Europeans’ discussions about eating. In Italy, people say, “to eat good fish and drink good wine” with friends is the true meaning of eating well. This is the contemplative aspect of food that I write about.
Taking time, actually taking time, to enjoy could bestow other health benefits in addition to nutrition.
Studies show that it takes 20 minutes for the signal for feeling full to register in our brains. Ergo, if we eat more slowly, we will feel satiated while having consumed less food.
Slowing down to eat actually allows for better mastication, more chewing, of our food. As the food is more completely chewed, it is easier for the enzymatic processes to complete the breakdown portion of digestion. Our bodies can then absorb more of the nutrients in the food.
Because our lives are so hectic, we have little time to really enjoy anything. If we are more mindful about what we eat when we are eating it, we allow ourselves time to settle down and to really experience the goodness of the food.
We detract from our ability to focus as we multitask during our daily activities. Eating is something that merits our full attention to. The hectic pace of life, with it’s pressing responsibilities, causes us to unconsciously engage in activity after activity. Because of the constant ‘go, go, go’ mindset, there is no time taken to reflect on things that are truly enjoyable. Our food, the flavors, the aromas, the friends, the conversation cannot just be haphazardly rushed. In taking time and giving full attention to the food that we eat, we can enjoy it more and actually derive more than just nutrition from it.
Take some time, enjoy your food.