Eating Should Be Fun

I posted this blog back in April on my ZenBagLady site. Some of you might have already seen it (and I apologize for the redundancy), but I decided to post it here today because Claire’s aunt Carlene sent me photos today of Claire after eating (and thoroughly enjoying) her pasta lunch. It was a good reminder about how much fun food should be. We plan it, debate it, weigh the good and the bad, count calories, count points, and fuss so much with it that we forget sometimes how much FUN it is to eat. Really really fun (see photos of Claire’s birthday cake destruction in my last blog entry).

So in spirit of fun and mindful eating, I give you this regurgitated, but pertinent, blog (along with the pasta photos):

The best part about driving to Pittsburgh from Clarion is the time. Seventy-five minutes of whatever I want to listen to or not listen to and think about or not think about. I pack a bottle of water or a travel mug of tea or coffee, and a plastic grocery bag filled with some fruit, like a banana or prunes or apples or grapes; maybe a few crackers and Werthers hard candies; definitely some gum and Altoids and Tic Tacs (I’m all about keeping my mouth minty happy); and often a homemade extra, like hummus or the pudding/pumpkin/cinnamon thingy I make, which requires a spoon.

Yesterday I really needed to see my girls – both daughters and grandbaby Claire. You know how you have those weeks when stuff just gets crazy and you need to walk away from it and surround yourself with the love and humor of the people you love the most?

I packed up my usual travel bag, such a classy couture, and included the pudding/pumpkin/cinnamon thingy in a recycled margarine container. I grabbed a spoon and I was good to go.

Forty-five minutes later, I passed Kittanning and merged on to 28, the four-lane to P’burgh. Eating the pudding thing while winding along Route 66 would have been cotton fiber suicide so I waited until I could put the Jeep on cruise control and safely balance the margarine container on my thigh. I turned off the Sirius radio, dug around for the spoon in the bag, and dug into the creamy goodness.

Two spoonfuls in, I realized I was just eating to eat. What’s the pleasure in that? I thought about Claire, who loves cold sweet potatoes and sweet peas. How would she eat this pudding concoction? Claire leans forward in her high chair and watches you bring the spoon to her mouth. She clamps her lips around the spoon and sucks and chews it until all the food is either in her mouth or spread out around her upper and lower lips. And sometimes her chin and neck, depending on how firm a grip you’ve got on the spoon. The food that’s in her mouth she swishes around like mouthwash, cherishing every flavor until she swallows and leans forward for another round.

So I tried eating Claire style. I scooped up a spoonful of pudding/pumpkin/cinnamon and sucked it off the spoon. I let it wander around in my mouth for awhile and on every exhale, tasted every last flavor it offered. (Have you noticed you can’t taste much when you inhale?) I observed the soft texture and the cold before swallowing it and thought of nothing more.

I’m trying to be more mindful in the small moments to train myself to be more aware in the big ones. Claire eats without thinking about money or work or her weight. She just concentrates on that moment of food. Eating like Claire, it took me 15 minutes to down a cup of pudding. That’s 15 minutes I can still recall and enjoy in my memory. How many meals or snacks have you eaten that you remember like that?

It’s not the specific food I remember so much, but the taste and the texture and the pure joy of eating. I tried the same thing with an apple today as I drove to pick up my dogs at the groomer. Same thing. I felt and was aware of the crunch, the sweet, and the red skin that caught in my molars. It was time spent not worrying about things I couldn’t change and things I couldn’t do.

Next time you’re tempted to multi-task while driving – paying bills or answering email via your Blackberry, talking mindlessly to pass the time – try eating some grapes or orange slices or even M&Ms. Really eat them. Think about them, each one, their texture and the feeling in your mouth. Breathe in their scent and exhale their flavor. Appreciate the moment for what it is. It’s a moment that you are simply being alive and not planning, not regretting, not wondering about the next moment. Just let it be what it is. It’ll give you a whole different appreciation and perspective of about darn near anything.

4 thoughts on “Eating Should Be Fun

  1. Ohhh…the pictures of Claire with pasta sauce smeared from forehead to chin are adorable. It’s exactly how I though I looked after indulging in a large plate of bolognese outside the Pantheon on my honeymoon recently. YUM. If only it was acceptable for adults to lick their plates in public.

  2. I am reading this at work while eating lunch and did what you suggested, oh my – what a different experience than just shoving down my throat in order to answer the next email…Thanks!!

  3. It is 12 noon here in CA. I was just thinking about what I can throw together for lunch that won’t ruin my whole day. I was not setting myself up to enjoy lunch. I think I allow myself to get mad at what I HAVE to eat rather than learning to appreciate the sensuality of the foods that I GET to eat. Ones that help make my body healthy and put my restless mind at easy.Thanks for the cute pictures, too.

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