Are You a Food Peeper?
In case you haven’t heard, it’s ‘flowergeddon’ in parts of California. Nature enthusiasts from around the world are flooding desert lands like the 640,000-acre Anza Borrego State Park to experience what’s commonly referred to as a ‘super bloom’. Super blooms occur every several years when the California deserts spring to life in carpets of bright blossoms - we're talking up to hundreds of plant species that have sometimes been dormant for 10 years' time.
Amidst the thousands of people exploring the vibrant wildflowers and angelic desert lilies are ‘flower peepers’. Flower peepers are onlookers who brave road ragers only to view the picturesque landscapes through their car windows. Seems a shame to stay cooped up and not savor the sweet smell of fresh blooms or tickling whisper of petals swaying in the breeze. Don't you think?
The reality is, most of us are food peepers. We endure endless hours of busyness without indulging our senses in a rewarding eating experience. Instead, we stay cooped up in distraction. We eat watching TV, working on the computer, browsing our smartphones or driving. Although it may seem like a good idea at the time, there's a big downside.
When we don’t savor our food bite-by-bite, we open ourselves up to unwanted symptoms like overeating and digestive dis-ease. Mindful eating helps satiate our hunger to feel alive so our senses can guide us to a healthful relationship with food.
Just like getting out of the car would immerse flower peepers' senses in a super bloom, mindful eating is a way to truly experience one of nature's other phenomena - food. In case you’re unfamiliar with mindful eating, it’s a technique that invites each sense to 'taste' your food so you can:
- Reduce overeating and binging
- Maximize metabolic capacity
- Ease digestive dis-ease
- Allow yourself to register fullness sooner
- Automatically seek healthful eating patterns
True, there are plenty of rulebooks to prescribe the do’s and don’ts of mindful eating, however, I prefer to take a rules shmules approach. I'm not big on recreating the wheel, and considering our senses have undergone at least 2.8 million years of evolution they better have optimized themselves. Seems like we should be able to trust them to guide the way over an author who wrote a book on the subject only 10-15 years ago. Otherwise, Mother Nature's got some explaining to do.
Mindful Eating with a Twist
Instead of just giving mindful eating a whirl with an arbitrary food, get ready to personalize your experience with a sample of your favorite yum-time snack. Go ahead, be bold. Choose the one food you can't get enough of, don't know why you eat it, or makes you feel a twinge of guilt afterwards. Now, here's what to do next:
- Prepare a 10-20 bite sample of your favorite food. You may also want to have a glass of room temperature water to cleanse your palate.
- Have your journal and pen handy. As you taste, you'll want to note the eating experience for each sense individually (sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch (texture)). Since we naturally eat with our eyes first, that's a good start. Remember, this is your eating experience, so if you want to taste with a sense more than once then go for it.
- Sample a small bite, tuning into a single sense. Notice what you notice with childlike curiosity as if experiencing that sense for the very first time.
- Take another sample bite. This time, distract yourself from that single sense. Distractions could include a blindfold for your eyes, TV/loud music to stifle sound, pinch of your nose to eliminate smell and taste, mashing/soaking of your bite to transform its texture.
- Repeat Step 2 for each sense.
- Review your notes and ask yourself:
- What are my biggest aha's?
- Why am I resisting or ignoring some of my senses?
- How are my dominant senses enabling me to make food choices or eat beyond my comfort zone?
- What's the one thing I can do to apply my biggest lesson learned from this experience?
I'm dying to hear your takeaway, kindly drop a note in the Comments below. If you prefer, you can always send me a message.