I have been making an effort this year to eat more consciously. Paying more attention to the food I put in my mouth, and appreciating the enormous effort it takes just to get the food on my plate. The planting, harvesting, packaging, shipping, preparation - it's a major event just to make a plate of food. Lately I've been about halfway through my meal before I remember to be thankful. That's ok, eventually if I do that enough maybe I'll remember it at the beginning of the meal.
The thing I'm having the hardest time with is trying not to multi-task while I eat. Especially if I'm eating alone, I look at that time as a way to catch up on things like my e-mail or a time to pay bills. Now that I'm actually trying to pay attention to eating and only eating, it's hard not to feel guilty. Sometimes it feels like I'm wasting the time in between bites by not doing something else.
I've noticed that the food tastes much better when I'm not distracted. It makes me realize how often I don't even taste what I am eating. The other day we were at the Indian buffet (although stuffet would be a better description). I was shoveling mango pudding into my mouth like someone was about to take my plate away from me. When I realized I was doing this, I consciously slowed down. I put a very small spoonful of pudding in my mouth and closed my eyes. It was amazing how much better the dessert tasted.
I've been trying this approach with all kinds of sweets lately. In the past, I have never understood the point of mini chocolates or candy bars. Instead of eating one and being satisfied, the minute size was just an excuse for me to eat 5 or 6 of them. It was easy just to pop the whole thing in my mouth, but then the pleasure was over much too soon. What I am now trying to do is take incredibly small bites of dessert, and really pay attention to the taste of the food.
I know it sounds crazy, but give this a try. The next time you have dessert, take a giant mouthful and eat it like you normally do. Then take a tiny bite, close your eyes, and really savor the flavor of the food before you swallow it. Notice a difference? I do. Even if you don't, the site of you closing your eyes at the dinner table and concentrating on your food will at least entertain your family. Bon Appetit!