That thing in your kitchen or dining room, is it: A) a dining table? B) a desk? C) a filing cabinet? or D) all of the above? I had to go with mostly B for my answer.
We eat at our desks, in our cars, over the sink, in front of the television, at the computer and generally everywhere else but at the table. Even when we cook it ourselves, mealtime is something we blow through rather than something we enjoy. Since HOW I ate was nearly as important as WHAT I ate, I found it crucial during my lifestyle change to make a HUGE shift in this habit. Here are some things I did (and do) to help me get a handle on how I ate:
- I eat most of my meals at the table. This lets me concentrate on my food and on my dining companion. If I’m eating alone, I am able to just appreciate my food, making the meal feel more like an event and less like a footnote.
- I eat on a plate – a real one that has to be washed and everything. I use metal cutlery and glass drink containers, even at work. Although my office supplies plastic cutlery and disposable plates, I bought an inexpensive set of cutlery, a glass plate and a glass bowl from Target. In total, I spent about six dollars and it was worth every penny. My colorful salads look pretty on the plate and it feels like I’m eating a real meal. The glass plate is also a little smaller than a standard plate; so, my portions can be a little smaller while appearing large. (Plus, I’m not throwing plastic and styrofoam into the waste system!)
- I try to make my meals look appealing with lots of color and texture, as well as flavor. Use red bell peppers instead of green, or Swiss chard instead of spinach sometimes for a pop of color. Add a couple of crushed almonds, walnuts or a few chunks of apple to your salad for some crunch.
- I eat slowly, chewing each bite and enjoying the different tastes and textures. This is important so that my stomach has enough time to communicate with my brain, telling me that I’m full.
- I experiment with new foods, new herbs, spices and preparation techniques. I also use stronger flavors like cumin, red pepper, white pepper, garlic, cilantro, dark chocolate, etc. A little feta or goat cheese on my salad adds a nice kick to those greens! Those flavors wake up my taste buds and let them know we are having a treat! (If you do this, your coworkers will likely want you to keep a toothbrush, some toothpaste, mouthwash and sugar-free mint gum at your desk, too! If you don’t much like those coworkers, skip the minty fresh and go double time on the goat cheese. The area of office space available for your exclusive use with increase proportionally.)
Food satisfies an appetite. If you don’t enjoy the aromas, flavors, colors, and textures, you’re cheating yourself out of three-quarters of the experience! That email can wait. Angry Birds will still be there after lunch. There’s very little really worth watching on prime-time TV, anyway. Take those 20 or 30 minutes of mealtime to reconnect with your family, your friends, your food and your body. It will be the most enjoyable time of your day.