This post is part of the April A to Z Blogging Challenge, where I am challenging myself to reflect on other A to Z posts that I come across.
Mindful eating is the practice of cultivating an open-minded awareness of how the food we choose to eat affects one’s body, feelings, mind, and all that is around us.
When I was a kid, my parents didn’t exactly encourage mindful eating. Eating was something I would always do at great speed, to the point where I would get scolded for rushing through dinner. I just didn’t want to sit at the dinner table any longer than I had to. It was all “What did you do today,” which I always found mind numbingly boring because it didn’t seem like actually talking so much as just going over itineraries.
I’ve also realized, upon reflection, that meals growing up were always very portion controlled and… kind of like being on a diet without anyone ever really needing to or saying the word diet. My dad likes to cook, and when I went off to college I didn’t realize that chicken stock and similar things could actually be bought in stores rather than made at home. Homemade stock, homemade tomato sauce, and homemade burgers cooked in the oven on little racks so all the fat (and moisture, and flavor) dripped out. Desserts were for special occasions, or if we had extra pears that my dad felt like poaching and making a simple syrup for, or sometimes just raspberries from the backyard with a little sugar and cream. If we had garlic bread, there were exactly four servings of garlic bread and no extras.
There was always one protein, one starch, and one vegetable, all of which were mandatory. Concessions were made for my dislike of certain vegetables, so I was never dragged kicking and screaming into eating a salad but I did choke down my fair share of broccoli. And if I took a really big scoop of mashed potatoes, or of rice, or of pasta, I often got a brief reminder not to eat too much starchy, bready things because then I might get fat.
When I savored food, it was in the somewhat rare evenings where we went out, or when I was at my Grandma’s house. Even then, I didn’t think too much of it.
Living in Sonoma County has changed my relationship with food entirely. Most of the restaurants around here have farm-to-table leanings, so everything is fresh and vivid and delicately nuanced with flavor. It’s that moment when you close your eyes and eat slowly, so slowly that in some moments you don’t even necessarily chew because you’re too distracted by just tasting, experiencing the moment.
Kristen talks in her Healthy Eating Blog ‘Eating The Moment‘ post about how “eating often leaves us with feelings of guilt. We don’t listen to our bodies, but give in to our minds that are tricking us into thinking we’re hungry.” I remember experiencing that. But the more I take the time to savor my food, the less guilt I feel.
Also, now that I’m on the keto diet I pay a lot more attention to what I eat and experiment more with healthy recipes that I can make in our new slow-cooker, and that’s a whole new world of appreciation too. I even borrowed a book from the library (volunteer shelving leads to finding some interesting gems, let me tell you) full of low-sugar baking recipes and tips for using less processed sugar. I’ve made chocolate avocado parfaits, low sugar pumpkin cupcakes with honey-cream cheese frosting, dark chocolate coconut cups… Healthy desserts! And they were delicious.
I haven’t read the book that Kristen’s post is talking about, but I’m all for mindful eating. What about you? What kind of eating habits were you raised with, and how have they changed over time?