Tuesday, January 12, 2016
The joy of food
For just a moment, imagine that you’re sitting before a plate of your favorite food. What does it look like? Is it colorful? What is its shape? Lean over the plate and draw in a deep breath. How does it smell? Does it have a sweet, savory or spicy aroma? Does the scent evoke a memory?
Now imagine taking a single, slow, scrumptious bite. What is the texture? Is it soft and chewy or hard and crunchy? How does it feel in your mouth? Is it smooth? Creamy? Rich? Think about how you would describe the flavor to someone who has never tasted this food before. What words would you use? How does this food make you feel? Why do you think it stirs this emotion within you?
As we ate lunch together recently, a good friend of mine reminded me of the old adage that some people eat to live while others live to eat. I had heard this before, but as we sat munching our crisp salads and satisfying soups, I began to feel truly sorry for anyone who eats only because it is a prerequisite for survival. For me, food is one of the great pleasures of living. Anyone who has ever shared a meal with me has heard me sigh with delight at the simplest of foods. I have been known to marvel at ripe raspberries, wonder at a warm loaf of crusty bread and be awed by tuna sandwiches, much to the amusement of my table-mates.
Sadly however, with the ever-quickening pace of life, even I have found myself eating on auto-pilot more and more lately; multi-tasking on lunch breaks, shoveling food down my throat while returning emails or between phone calls. Food needs and deserves our full attention. It nourishes us in so many ways, and it is so much more than a mere conglomeration of molecules that we call nutrients. It has an energy all its own and is an entire sensory experience to be treasured. It makes life both possible and more enjoyable. After all, we are not just simple machines needing fuel to fill our tanks so that we can continue to operate for a few more hours.
While I know that many of us resolve to eat less or make healthier choices in the New Year, I hope that these resolutions do not rob you of the pleasure of eating; especially since studies have shown time and again that fully mindful munching can help you reach those goals. To reap the benefits, all you have to do is be present in the moment, chew slowly and imagine that whatever you are eating is your favorite food. However you choose to be healthier this year, I hope it brings you happiness. Personally, my resolution is to rediscover the joy of food, bite by luscious bite.
Jennifer Fetterley is a registered dietitian at Backus Hospital and Thames Valley Council for Community Action. This advice should not replace the advice of your personal health care provider. To comment on this column or others, visit the Healthy Living blog at www.healthydocs.blogspot.com or e-mail Ms. Fetterley or any of the Healthy Living columnists at firstname.lastname@example.org.