6 conscious-eating tips
for lone-wolf & in-the-pack moments
Easy and EXCELLENT food rules! The first 4 apply anytime, then there are 2 gems for eating in the company of others.
Eat more slowly. Every rule that follows will support you in this, and eating slowly will support your experience of the following rules. If you're concerned with amounts you eat or number of calories, think of needing to eat for a certain amount of time to feel satisfied. If you're shoveling it in at high velocity during that whole window, yikes—lots more food going down.
Engage with the food more sensually. Most important, really taste it. Experience the varying flavors and textures; look for the subtleties. Beyond that, you probably have something in the vicinity of four other magical senses you can check in with as part of your mealtime experience. Note that you're always more present when you're connected to your senses and what they're registering here and now.
Chew thoroughly. Keep chewing when you think you're done. A bit more chewing before you swallow? Always good.
Put down your fork (spoon, chopsticks, whatever) between bites. I found this to be a serious discipline at first! Who puts their fork down between each and every bite? Who even wants to? What I found I love about doing this is that the act of constantly putting down and picking up the eating utensil keeps me conscious more than anything else, thus allowing me to recall and stay with (or keep coming back to) the other rules.
Don't talk while you eat. Let others talk. If there's food in your mouth, it's time to chew, maybe swallow—not talk. (Hey, no one else needs to monitor your chewing.) Stop eating for a while if you want to insert yourself in the conversation.
Monitor your feeling states while you eat, and respond to them appropriately. If you notice the conversation (or anything in the room) is creating an anxious response in your body, stop eating, or slow way down. You'll enjoy the food more and digest it much better if there's no anxiety or clunky feeling of any flavor in the mix. Also, you're likely to lose track of all conscious eating if you eat while the pain body is activate. So pause, or creatively stall, and mind the pain body. Short-version of how to do this: breathe into the feeling wherever it registers in the body. Just breathe normally, directing the breath consciously—no one will know what you're up to.
Take full responsibility for your well-being as you eat. People will do what they do, and that doesn't need to keep you from eating in a way that nourishes you and feels good. Consider whether you want to say or do something to shift the scene, from naming the elephant in the room to changing the subject. You might even step outside for a bit.
If you know before the meal that there's a topic in the air pretty sure to create distress or discomfort for you or others present, you might ask all concerned for some judicious mealtime agreements. I, for one, think political talk—especially when people have, uh, robust opinions about the political hot topics of the day—is a very bad idea at the dinner table.
Note that items 1 and 3-5 originally came to me from Deepak Chopra. His five-hour audio program, Magical Mind, Magical Body, is available for free on YouTube. It covers a number of topics related to well-being, told from his Ayurvedic East-meets-West perspective. Take what you like and leave the rest! On a sidenote, this is where I first heard the term self-referral, though he spends little time defining or teasing it out. That's why this topic has its own chapter in my book Scooch! (part one of which you can now download for free off my site).
Love & blessings, Jaya