Lately I’ve been very focused on food. It’s something that we probably don’t think about often enough but permeates pretty much every aspect of our lives and is a major focus of each and every day.
I didn’t know anything about calories until college, and really didn’t start to expand my palate to include delicacies such as sushi until about the same time. And it’s played a major role in my weight, especially as I started to age and it actually mattered more what I was eating. But what’s been on my mind most about food since teaching this summer at Governor’s School is the aesthetic experience of eating food.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about food is to slow down and enjoy the experience of eating, which can be hard to do sometimes if I’m starving. But when we are able to slow down we are definitely able to enjoy food more. In addition, we are more likely to eat the amount of food that is appropriate for us, rather than overeating.
In order to do this, it’s necessary for me to completely power down during dinner if at all possible, although every now and then work makes this impossible. This means making sure there’s no television on, making sure the laptop is closed, and putting the cell phone on silent. There are numerous benefits to this:
- Experiencing the food. Eating is a very sensual experience, and learning to truly enjoy and understand the flavors and textures we are eating can be a very enjoyable experience.
- Appreciating the aesthetics. In addition, the aesthetic experience of how the food looks can be enjoyed. If we’re watching TV or sending texts, we are not going to spend the time and brain power to truly appreciate the way our food looks, which can be as amazing as a piece of art at the local gallery!
- Less likely to overeat. When we pay attention to what we’re eating, we usually eat less, which is good for our waistlines and our health.
- Less likely to snack later. Some studies have suggested your mind can “forget” you ate if you weren’t paying while you were doing it. This can increase the desire to eat again later.
- Being more social. Powering down allows us to interact and be more social with those around us. And as Aristotle tells us, friendship is an important part of the good life!
Mole skillet pie with greens and cornbread crust