Mindful Eating Amongst Friends
There are lots of suggestions out there about how best to eat. Our diet-based culture – with the end game of having you manipulate your body shape and size – has given us a multitude of mantras telling us what they consider to be the best ways to eat: “use a small plate”, “drink water so you feel full”, “eat salad first so you won’t be hungry”, and/or “put down your fork and count to three between bites.”
My all time favorite, (insert sarcasm) which is actually in the training manual for Health Coaches in a company I used to work for (before I grew a soul), is: “wear tight clothes so you’ll be too uncomfortable to eat.”
All but the last of those are perfectly reasonable suggestions, I suppose, but they’re short lived. For me, I always like to get down to the “why” of eating behaviors. Ask yourself: Where am I coming from with this behavior? What’s my end game for doing this?
My end game – the hope and the goal – for my clients is that they trust themselves with food. That they don’t overeat. That they have a balanced, enjoyable relationship with food. That they feel good about themselves.
So, with the goal of getting you closer to all that good stuff, here is one of my favorite suggestions about how best to eat.
From Geneen Roth: Eat (with the intention of) in full view of others.
I take it a bit further into self compassion.
Consider: Eat as if in the company of dear friends.
Imagine you’re at dinner with a group of dear friends. What would the table look like? How would you be sitting? How would the food get from the plate to your mouth? Where would your attention be?
Compare that with Vision #2:
Think about that, really picture it in your mind. Lovely, yes? We’ll call it Vision #1.
This is a snapshot of how you perhaps eat when you’re by yourself, not in view of others and definitely not in the company of dear friends.
I’ll set the scene: you’re standing at the counter, or sitting at your desk/on the couch/in the car. You’re eating from the container, or from the microwavable plate, or off a paper towel. You’re hunched over a bit, your arm is making regular shovel swings to your mouth. You’re on your cell phone, watching TV, or working on your laptop.
Of course, Vision #1 is nicer. In my mind’s eye, the lights are on, there’s color. Vision #2 is dingy and a little gross, and definitely not mindful eating.
My suggestion is that you go for Vision #1, and eat as if in the company of friends. “Yes, that sounds nice,” you say.
“BUT,” you sigh. “A lot of the time I’m eating by myself.”
There are some great slogans in the 12-step recovery programs: “Fake it until you Make it”, “Act as If.”
Eat as if in the company of dear friends.
Put the food on a nice plate. Sit at a table. Sit up straight. Turn off the screens. Chew thoroughly. Use a napkin. All the markings of eating in the company of dear friends. Because you are indeed eating with a dear friend. That dear friend is you.
And if you don’t always feel like you’re a dear friend to yourself, having a nice meal with yourself is a good place to start.
Try it, let me know how it goes!
Here’s a note from a client who worked with me to become a better friend to herself: “I felt satisfied without overeating… learned about dining versus wolfing my food.” – H M, Fredricksburg, VA