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Enjoying Food versus Eating

  • Eating

I love when I get ideas for blogs from clients. This one came from a remark a client made about finally enjoying food, rather than merely inhaling or consuming it. She was deriving pleasure—real pleasure— from the joys food has to offer rather than throwing herself into eating for all the wrong reasons.

My client’s take is that she was so absorbed with the act of eating—of filling what she called her bottomless pit--that she never really focused enough on the actual food. Food was a means to an end, nothing more. Here are some of the ways the act of eating derails us. When eating is something to do when you have nothing to do or when you want to put off a task you perceive as unpleasant. When eating is a way of avoiding internal distress to make feelings seem less intense. In this day and age, eating has taken on a life of its own rather than being an avenue toward sensory delight and nourishing ourselves.

When you’re focused on food, however, eating becomes the path to bodily pleasure. Your energies are targeted toward providing your body with nutrients, enjoying flavor and texture, wrapping yourself in sensual experience, taking care of your physical and mental self, bringing yourself pleasure, honoring your appetite, and finding that perfect moment that says you’re satisfied and have had enough. You wouldn’t want to be doing anything else but eating because the food is precious and special. You wouldn’t think of distracting yourself with other activities because you want the experience of getting the most out of a particular food in that moment. It’s like being with a lover: You want him or her, not any old person or simply the feeling of being in love.

When you’re focused on consumption, any food will do because what you’re wanting is not food but distraction or to fill a void. You don’t care what you eat because you’re not tasting it any way. Eating is a way of not doing something else and is not even really about the food. Can you tell when you’re totally into a food or just into eating to eat? What are the distinctive signals in your body? What are you thoughts when you’re slowly savoring food versus when you’re eating mindlessly? When you make the activity about consuming, you want to eat quickly, but when you make it about being with a food, you want the experience to take its time to prolong enjoyment. Next time you get the urge to eat, consider whether you’re looking for a delicious food experience or simply want to be doing something for other reasons.