Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Live to eat, or eat to live

Well, I know which camp I fall into.  My sweetheart falls into the other.  I recently asked him to do one of my mindful eating exercises with me.  Here's how it went:

Him: I'm not chewing 15 to 20 times.
Me: Just try it!  You should do it so you can notice mouth hunger.
Him:  I don't have mouth hunger - I have belly hunger!!  I want to get it down there!  Give me that!!

This is the same man who suggested that if I felt upset about eating too many brownies, I should just stop putting them in my mouth.

APPARENTLY he doesn't experience mouth hunger (ie: a craving to put food into his mouth for the sake of enjoying its flavours and textures, rather than to satisfy physical hunger).  He said he eats when his belly is hungry.  Maybe he'll chew on a blade of grass sometimes.

I couldn't let such an audacious declaration, which I assumed must be a flagrant lack of self-awareness, rest.  I thought of examples to prove him wrong.  I reminded him of his stash of "Chicago Mix" flavoured popcorn in his vehicle, or his habit of getting a McDonald's muffin (the absolute epitome of a "food-like substance") on every road-trip.  But he had clear awareness of the motivations behind eating these things.  Interestingly, he said he enjoys the surprise of the different flavours that you get with each handful of Chicago Mix.  Hmm.  Sure sounds like "mouth hunger" to me.  

Can this be eaten mindfully?
Everyone eats mindlessly sometimes.  What's interesting to me is that some people have an innate wisdom that prevents them from doing it EVERY time they eat.  There are so many possible reasons for this, some of which might go all the way back to childhood.  In my sweetheart's case, I suspect he has a diminished sense of smell.  He doesn't seem to get as much pleasure from really good food as I do, and I think it's because he can't taste the subtle flavours in it.  This can work in my favour when I'm being experimental with my cooking, but it's a little frustrating when I make something amazing.  He likes it all, unless it's too spicy.

He summed up our different approaches to food pretty succinctly: "You eat to make your mouth happy, and I do it to feed myself".

I have another friend who is much more like me - we often discuss our food-related frustrations. I don't think she'd be offended if I said she's in the "live to eat" camp too. Not long ago, after a lovely healthy lunch from a local deli, she declared: "I'm full!  I don't know if I want to eat the rest of this."

Think about that for a moment.

I laughed, because I recognized myself in her comment.  I'm full, but I keep eating anyway.  I'm full, but I'm thinking about a treat.  I'm full, but I want to polish something off.  I'm full, but I can't stop.  

She took her leftovers home.

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