General Diet Plans and Questions - Eating Mindfully

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03-10-2001, 09:47 PM
To all:

I've been reading a lot (as usual) which for me involves re-reading old favorites...I'm one of those people who NEVER gets rid of books! Thank goodness for the local library!

Anyway...a couple of books I've re-read in the past couple of weeks really struck a chord with me, that I'd like to share with you.

"May All Be Fed: A Diet for A New World" by John Robbins (the founder of EarthSave) and "Losing It: False Promises and Fat Profits in the Diet Industry" by Laura Fraser (the paperback version, not the hardcover) both focus in part on what I term "eating mindfully" - taking time in planning meals, shopping for the freshest ingredients, preparing them with love and care for yourself and/or your family, and serving meals with a nice place setting and a little bit of ceremony...

John Robbins says before meals, he and his family sit down to the table, savor the aromas and sights of the lovingly prepared food, and give thanks for what is before them...sounds kind of hokey, doesn't it? Then, they eat with real pleasure and thankfulness and enjoy the tastes, smells, and textures of the food, and the feeling of sated hunger as well.

Laura Fraser recommends to readers - "Eat like an Italian!" as follows:

"Our stereotype of Italian cuisine is an Americanized version - heaping plates of lasagna or fettucine alfredo...Italians, instead, are much more moderate in their eating habits, savoring smaller portions of food, rarely eating desserts. They don't stuff themselves because they know that good food will be waiting for them at the next meal...

Italians, traditionally, take pride in eating fresh, local ingredients. They buy fruits and vegetables that are in season, and are very fussy about the quality of their bread, olive oil, and wine. They don't eat a lot of processed, packaged food, because it doesn't appeal to them. Nor do many of them eat between meals, because it would spoil the pleasurable experience of being good and hungry when mealtime comes.

Italians eat with a sense of ritual and community that is often lost in American culture. Many go home for lunch, eat something hot and well prepared, and sit down with a nice place setting...Lunch should be a nice, relaxing meal...the evening meal is something to share with friends and family, not something to throw in the microwave and eat in front of the TV.

We often think of Americans' eating habits as being too indulgent, but in fact our eating is often filled with shame and guilt...if we focused more on eating with true delight, with wonderful, seasonal ingredients and a sense of ceremony, we would end up eating less - and enjoying it more."

Reading these two books got me thinking - when was the last time I truly enjoyed a meal with my husband, rather than eating in front of the TV? Probably the last time we went to a nice restaurant...I remember clearly when I was a child - Mom had very set rules about dinnertime. We all had to sit at the table; the TV and radio turned off - and concentrate on eating our food (of course, we were allowed to converse!). After I moved away, I got in the habit of eating the way most of us eat - on the run, just gulp and go, not savoring or remembering the taste of what just went down my wonder family holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter are so special to me - I really miss the time around the table with my family...

Monday, I leave on a business trip - but tonight, I am going to really shock Jim by setting our little table (which is covered in junk!) with two place settings and candles, turning off the TV and having a REAL dinner. I went to the Farmers' Market this morning already and bought some beautiful veggies and blood oranges to die for...

Eating Mindfully - I know I was rambling but I'd be interested in your thoughts...

03-14-2001, 04:11 AM
We do this at home sort of. Not the beautiful place settings but we do have a dinning room that we eat in every meal. I used to have a friend whose family had this coffee table in their living room that lifted up and pulled forward so that the three of them could sit back on the couch and eat their meals while watching tv. I thought that just couldn't be good for the daughter who was very overweight (the mom too). After seeing that I never allow any member of this family to sit on the couch for meals. I think on the whole that I am mindful of the things that I put in front of my family at mealtime and have gotten very mindful of what they are snacking on. I loved this post and want you to know that I am really giving it serious thought. Thanks

Mrs. Yogi
03-15-2001, 01:06 PM
You are so right. This is something that's been lost in the rush of life in the fast lane.

Food should be savoured and chewed slowly, washed down occasionally with a nice bottle of wine and seasoned with good company and a whole lotta love.

Well said. :)

Mini Mony
03-18-2001, 02:59 PM
I'm trying to eat clean but every once in a while I treat myelf to a little indulgence. For me these are the times when it is even more important to eat mindfully. meals...your favorite comfort foods. Take the time to slow down enjoy every bite and texture. And stop when you are satisfied.

Thanks for the reminder, Mrs Jim.

03-18-2001, 08:57 PM
...I had to laugh when I read your reply! Just this past November, Jim and I were shopping for a sofa at Levitz. We looked at those very same coffee tables and had to snicker a bit, because they are so obviously made for the professional couch potato (although I could see where they could be useful for those who are handicapped or debilitated with arthritis, etc.).

I truly believe that the epidemic of fatness in America can be dated as beginning in earnest after WW II. American troops had gotten accustomed to eating K-rations, and of course the fast-food chains such as McDonald's came into existence soon after WWII - in combination with Americans beginning to drive everywhere and walking a lot less.

My father comes to mind - his family were fairly poor farmers in North Carolina. Each morning, before school, his six brothers and himself all had to get up EARLY and do chores around the farm - hard physical work. They ate big meals -- consisting mostly of food grown on their farm -- eggs, meat, veggies, etc. all that old-fashioned fried Southern food -- but they were burning a lot of calories (besides the chores, he also had to walk to school, to town, etc.). When he left home and went to college, got married, Dad wasn't doing the hard physical labor but was still eating the same amounts of food...

Like me, Dad has been struggling with his weight - although he has never been as fat as I have. All seven of the brothers have had heart surgery, high blood pressure - now I found out just last week my Dad has been diagnosed with adult-onset diabetes. have most of his brothers. I believe it's partially genetic but a great deal of it has to do with how they took care of themselves.

Sorry to go off on another tangent again! But finding out that Dad is now a diabetic has been on my mind a great deal lately...

03-21-2001, 12:02 AM

What a wonderful post. We are usually so busy and eat meals mindlessly. Or perhaps it's just a bad habit. It's as if we appease our appetite without satisfying our mind. I wonder how many cravings are really a basic need to enjoy and savour our food.
It's also a difficult pattern to break. It's so easy to let your mind drift to matters other than the food. It takes a concentrated effort to focus on the meal. Yet another bad habit to break.
Thanks for the "food for thought", pun intended.


03-21-2001, 06:04 PM
I have been trying to eat more mindfully myself over the past couple of weeks.

Thanks for all your kind words!

John Robbins had some simple words of grace in his book (you may check your local library for it ):

"May all be fed.
May all be healed.
May all be loved."

I am making an effort to say those words silently to myself before sitting down to a meal!

Take care everyone...