Health & Fitness
Slow Down And Smell The Food
There was an article in the N.Y. Times this week: “Setting the Mood to Enjoy a Smaller Meal.” It reported on recent research on eating and noted that diners consumed less food when dining in attractive places. A quote from the study: “you create a nice atmosphere, people talk more, they concentrate less on the food, and they leave more on their plate and feel more satisfied.”
I do enjoy good conversations at meal times and take pleasure from a nice dining atmosphere, but it’s not enough for me!
The other day we had dinner with good friends in a lovely restaurant and were very engaged in conversation, and yet, I was very aware that I finished every course first- my salad, the main course and even coffee at the end of the meal. I purposefully put my fork down between bites to stretch out the time- and still- I was the first one finished and cleaned my plate.
This is a habit that goes back to my childhood. We all ate quickly at our table. You had no choice. My mother served family style and if you didn’t eat fast and grab the next piece- it was gone!
Even though I was the youngest, I got right in there with my siblings. We often joke about it when we share a meal these days. We all eat as if we hadn’t eaten in days and don’t know when there might be another meal.
As a Weight Watcher I learned to slow down and stay very conscious of what I eat. I learned a great strategy- to put my fork down between forkfuls. I used to hold on to the fork throughout the meal. It takes the brain between 15- 20 minutes to register that you’ve eaten, so it’s a good idea to stretch out the meal until your brain knows you’ve eaten and that maybe you’ve eaten enough.
It’s surprising that even with my heightened sensitivity and consciously eating slowly I’m still the fastest eater aside from my siblings.
Early habits come back to haunt us and I have to work hard to slow down and take in the aromas and soak up the visual pleasure of the food. One of my greatest joys is that Bill makes me incredible artistic and amusing breakfasts.
I love to see the surprises he creates and that’s one of the few times I don’t have to force myself to slow down. His creations are so spectacular that I have to stop and take in the artistry of the plate. I also have to deliberate about which feature to eat first.
Making food with children helps them slow down and become conscious of what they are eating. Having a conversation about the amusing dish you are creating helps make the entire experience very pleasurable. If you use our book, Funny Food, as an inspiration the meal is always nutritious too.