Slow down, you move too fast.
You got to make the morning last.
Just kicking down the cobble stones.
Looking for fun and feelin’ groovy.
-The 59th Street Bridge Song, Simon & Garfunkel
(I never think of that song without thinking of my AP History teacher, Mr. Paterson. He used to quote songs and every time he quoted this one, he’d say “Feelin’ groovy – whoever she is.” 30 years later and I still think of him every time I hear the song.)
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent more time than usual with my dad (as you might imagine). One night, he commented on how fast I eat. I looked at my plate (which was empty) and at his (which was still half full). Hmm. He opined that I probably ate that fast because of short mealtimes work. When he was a young man fighting forest fires for the summer in Riverside, CA, he said that they ate fast because, if they didn’t, they might not get to finish the meal.
I’m not a firefighter. I have a 30-minute lunch break.
It takes about 20 minutes for the stomach to notify the brain that it’s full. It makes sense then, that if I eat too fast, I can easily overfill my stomach. (I can shovel a lot of food into my gob into 20 minutes.) During The Great Reduction, I made a conscious effort to make my meals last, to make them an event for my senses of sight, smell, feel and taste. I presented my food in an attractive manner, on a real plate, at the table. I didn’t eat out of a plastic container while sitting on the couch, standing over the sink or driving in the car. I took a moment to enjoy the aromas of my food before I ate it. I made sure that I included foods with a variety of textures, as well as colors. And, finally, I used a variety of different herbs and spices (although little salt) to flavor my food. To ensure that I ate more slowly, I put my fork or spoon down between bites and I put my hands in my lap. And you know what?
I slowed down, enjoyed a better meal and a less stressful mealtime, and I lost weight! I must contribute some of the loss to simply slowing down, giving my body time to communicate with itself, and listening to what it said. When my stomach said that it was full, I did something shocking. I. Stopped. Eating. Believe it or not, that was a real struggle.
For a few of my early school years, I attended Catholic school. Yep. “Eat all of that tuna sandwich. There are starving children in Africa.” I’m not saying that there aren’t starving children all over the world; however, I am saying that my over-eating and subsequent obesity did not help them in any way. At all. Like ever. A hungry toddler in the Sudan doesn’t give a rat’s patoot if I finish my tuna salad at lunch or if I save some and eat it for dinner. That child would, no doubt, be horrified to know that I threw it out; but, the location of my tuna salad affects that child’s hunger in no way.
And, yet, I felt (and still feel) guilty.
Friends, it’s time to let that go! I’ve got real transgressions I can feel guilty for – stuff that is WAY better than wasted tuna sandwiches. Stuff you couldn’t get me to confess to without a bottle of tequila! That stuff, I’ll feel guilty for; but, I’m not going to feel guilty about eating slowly enough to feel full before my food is gone. It’s time to get the greed and gluttony back in check. It’s time to slow down, stop moving so fast. I’ve got to make my meals last.
I may not feel groovy like the song says, but I’ll feel healthier and that’s close enough for me.