I hate being told what to do.
Stand up straight.
Chew your food.
Now I understand that if I stand up straight, my brain has a better chance of working well and my nervous system will have a clearer path to balance. I’m not working at standing up straight because my mom told me to when I was a kid or because my boss would come up behind me and pull my shoulders back; I’m working on my alignment because I want to be able to think and also because if I stand like a depressed person, shoulders and back hunched, I’m going to feel depressed. Life is hard enough. I don’t need to make it harder just because I’m stubborn.
If someone offered me a spoon, a fork, or a shovel to eat my meal, I’d take the shovel every time. I LOVE mouthfuls of cereal that are so big food ends up falling back into the bowl. I LOVE shoving food in my mouth like an elephant trying to stick a foot into a little sock. It’s fun. It makes me feel good. Huge mouthfuls make me feel hopeful that I will get fed until I am full.
Of course, I can’t fully chew these fooddrifts that could choke a less agile eater. I’m probably second-cousin to the snake who takes in the mouse whole and then has a mouse-sized lump in its long pull of a body. Only the mouselump, the foodlump, is somewhere between my esophagus and my stomach.
I understood that I was supposed to chew my food well because it’s nicer for the people who are with you to see you put little bites into your mouth and then chew rather than inhale your food. I understood that the mouth was the first place digestion begins as the enzymes in the saliva start to break down the food. I understood inhaling food was a choking risk. I understood that ideally you chew each bite 30 times to break the food down enough so that more nutrients can be pulled from the food as there is more surface area to work with in the stomach and intestines.
I got it. I heard it.
But that didn’t stop me from shoveling in my meals.
When I was visiting France and Spain and Italy, I took smaller bites and chewed my food well. Why? Number one was that I was loving the atmosphere and I was more relaxed, more in vacation mode, and most of the Europeans around me were eating nicely, not like hungry gorillas, and they looked so beautiful and right I wanted to be like them.
Chew chew chew. Merci. Gracias. Grazie.
But the bigger reason was that the food was so flipping delicious I wanted to be able to taste it, and it’s easier to taste when you can hold a small bit of food in your mouth and chew it so the mixture coats your tongue and hits all the taste buds. I mean, come on, the butter? The bread? The charcuterie?
When I am eating at home, in America, the bite in my mouth is not enough. I’m already impatient to swallow so I can shovel in more food. And then more. This isn’t about eating so much as it is about MORE and the fear that I won’t get enough.
So much of what I eat is food I think I am supposed to eat (grapefruits, dandelion greens, plain oatmeal, plain almond oatmeal, grass-fed beef…). I like all those foods. Truly. But do I want to sit down and meditate on each mouthful? No. I want to shovel my way through to the other side. It’s that one more drink syndrome, or that one more of anything. Then I will feel better. Then I will feel complete, whole, happy. I just need one more book on bodywork. One more skin product. One more blanket. Then everything will be okay.
Shovel shovel shovel. More. More. More.
What could I eat now that would encourage mindful chewing? Nothing I have here in the house. Boy. I really have to think about this. What food would I enjoy enough to really want to taste?
What parts of my life are about shoveling stuff in and what parts are about savoring?
Writing is savoring. Reading is savoring. That’s a start.
Now I have to find something to chew on.
See you tomorrow.