Do you enjoy food?
If you’re anything like me, your answer will be a resounding and enthusiastic “Yes!” However, I believe the question warrants more thorough consideration.
In fact, it’s a question I’d like you to ask yourself when you next sit down for a meal. More specifically, I want you to think about why and how you enjoy your food. The answers may surprise you.
I carried out this exercise yesterday when I had lunch (which was beans on toast, in case you’re interested). About half way through, I found myself pondering what it is exactly I love about eating. I quickly came to realise that I wasn’t particularly enjoying my meal at that point. I’d probably stopped savouring the food a few bites ago, and was continuing to eat out of habit more than anything. I was scratching an itch – but that itch wasn’t hunger, nor was it a desire to satisfy my taste buds. It was nothing more than routine.
Realising this didn’t stop me from finishing my meal (because of my aversion to leaving food – something I need to work on). However, it did make me realise that next time I eat beans on toast, in terms of optimising my enjoyment of the meal (i.e. only putting as much on my plate as I’ll actually enjoy eating), I should reduce my portion size.
This was a logical thought process; why put more on your plate than you’ll actually enjoy? However, the logic was hidden behind my well-established habit, which I’d not previously made the effort to consciously challenge. I think a lot of people who struggle with their weight do the same.
The moral of the story here is to think in more detail about why you eat what you eat – to be more mindful of your eating. Is it because you are enjoying every single mouthful – right up to the last one – or is there a point at which you transition from enjoying your food to merely eating it out of habit? If you can identify that transition, you can take steps to eat less (by stopping eating at that time and/or reducing future portion sizes) while not actually reducing your enjoyment of your food. Which, as always, is the kind of win/win solution we’re looking for.