Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Can My Wolf-It-Down Family Eat More Slowly, Mindfully?

I had to laugh when I read an article in the New York Times promoting “mindful” eating. In my house, people eat as though bands of marauders are apt to rampage through the kitchen at any moment, stealing all the “good food” from the table (leaving behind the veggies and anything “weird” looking) and leaving my family bereft and hungry.

To say that we are gulp down our food at a rapid clip is as much of an understatement as saying that Donald Trump has a slightly inflated ego.

The Spouse in particularly is guilty of this. He does it so often that I frequently mutter under my breath, “Slow down!” (When I’ve had too much caffeine during the day and/or am on a tight time schedule, he does the same for me.)

So when I told him that the New York Times said he should put down his fork in between bites, as I oftentimes suggest, he accused me of ad libbing. But I wasn’t.

“Try this,” the article began, “place a forkful of food in your mouth. It doesn’t matter what the food is, but make it something you love – let’s say it’s that first nibble from three hot, fragrant, perfectly cooked ravioli.”

“Now comes the hard part,” writer Jeff Gordinier continued. “Put the fork down. This could be a lot more challenging than you imagine, because the first bite was very good and another immediately beckons. You’re hungry.”

Gordinier said if you take the time to chew the food s-l-o-w-l-y, appreciate not just the taste and texture of the food, but its smell and appearance on your plate while remaining silent, you’ll likely enjoy your food more AND eat less in the process.

This made me wonder if in my family, where eating is practically a competitive sport – that’s when The Youngest Boy isn’t talking 447 miles per hour as he scarfs in order to tell us the latest fifth grade boy joke about Uranus and something likely involving balls (it’s a comedy sketch a minute at our dinner table) – this could ever work, even for a single meal.

A lot of factors are against it, one being the fact that dinner is usually sandwiched in between youth sports practices, pending homework assignments, The Spouse having a mere 10 minutes to spare before he has to run out again, etc. Another obstacle is that The Youngest Boy has precious little patience with just sitting there like a civilized being and eating at a thoughtful pace. He's got a lot on his mind and on his super-secret To Do list.

I even wonder if The Spouse and I could achieve “mindful” eating on our own, what with being interrupted every other minute (because the kids haven't seen their dad all day and all want to tell him stuff). I guess it’d have to be while we’re out at a dinner someplace, alone.

Do you think you could get your family to slow down, to put down the fork between bites, and actually enjoy the food? Or is this just some Martha Stewart-esque pipe dream, particularly for the Picket Fence Post family where we go 10 rounds with The Youngest Boy in order to get the kid to eat two carrot sticks?

As for the article’s suggestion that the first part of the meal be consumed in silence . . . yeah, that’s not gonna happen my friend, not in our house.

Image credit: Jennifer May/New York Times

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