Well, I have recently noticed that it's not as easy as I thought.
During the Thanksgiving weekend, which also coincided with Eid Al-Adha, we had several festive family dinners. My two brothers, whom we hadn't seen in a while, came to town. They are both athletes, so they eat a lot and quickly.
It is helpful to be mindful of the factors that hinder mindful eating. I overate during that weekend and I found it hard to eat mindfully for the following reasons:
- It's hard to divide your attention between your food and the people you are eating with, especially if you are having a deep or exciting conversation with them.
- Most people eat faster than the mindful eater. When you are eating with people who are eating faster than you are, you unconsciously tend to increase your pace of eating to catch up with their pace. I actually get nervous when I am eating with someone who is eating fast.
- When you are eating with people who eat faster than you, they will likely finish before you. Then, they either have to wait for you to finish or you have to explain why you are so slow.
- If you eat too slowly, you might miss out on certain rare foods that you only eat on special occasions because it gets eaten up before you get some or you only get to eat a little bit of it.
- When you are full but there are dishes you still haven't tried, you tend to want to try them anyway before they are gobbled by others. If you don't want to miss out on something, you can say that you want to save it for later, but sometimes you don't want to look cheap or greedy.
- You can't say, "hey everyone, why don't we eat slowly and mindfully." People consider it rude to preach about how to eat right during a family dinner. People are having a good time and want to enjoy the food. When people are eating together, they expect conformity.
- Eating mindfully means being different. Everyone is going to be eating in a certain way, while you are eating in a peculiar way. You are eating slowly, breathing, looking at their food, and smelling it. You are going to have to explain yourself.
- People who don't know what you are doing will find it awkward. I don't mind being considered weird and my family understands me, but I know others might be self-conscious about telling people they are practicing "mindful eating." People don't want to see you "making love to your food." Breathing is essential to mindful eating, but people don't want to see you practicing deep breathing and smelling your food.
Here's what I learned from this experience:
- On special occasions, only eat the rare and special foods that you don't get to eat every day.
- Eat a little bit of everything, so that you at least get a taste of it and don't feel like you missed out on it.
- Exercise vigorously the following days or plan ahead by exercising beforehand and cutting down on calories.
- Remind people that you are a slow eater so you have to save some things for later.
- If you do miss out on eating something, just remember that you had a good time with the people you were with.