Last week Joe and I were presenting at the NLP Conference in London. We presented two workshops one with a business focus and one more as a personal development exploration. The personal development workshop was called “The Zero Point”. This is a model we are developing bringing ideas from other fields into NLP that are intended to explore the power of being connected and present. One of the gateways to the “Zero Point” is through our senses. In today’s blog I am going to share with you some of our thoughts about the impact of eating consciously.
Before I do that let me share an observation with you. I realised I was often absent when eating! In other words when I ate I was often distracted watching TV, chatting to others or just thinking about other things. It became clear to me that I was not alone in this phenomenon. When I spoke to others I discovered that many other people reported a similar experience. I also remembered I had read about this in Geneen Roth’s excellent books also, for example “Feeding the Hungry Heart”.
Here is the common paradox, many people spend many hours thinking about food but the only time they don’t think about food is when they are actually eating!
Why is this relevant?
When we eat unconsciously we often eat quickly, we are also likely to consume on average 75% more calories than when we eat consciously. This is already starting to sound interesting is it not?
As many of you know my Masters Degree is in Applied Positive Psychology. As part of this course we studied Mindfulness and one of the exercises we were introduced to was Mindful Eating. It was amazing! We were given a raisin to eat and then given very specific instructions on how to eat our raisin. This was the point where I discovered the other positive benefit of eating consciously, taste improves. When I say it improves I mean it improves by at least 10 times. I was astonished at how tasty and flavoursome that raisin really was.
At the NLP Conference we introduced our delegates to this experience as part of the workshop. The results were the same. Imagine what would happen if we all ate consciously. I wonder how many of you would automatically start to change your eating habits based on taste alone.
Conscious eating takes longer so another reason we might eat less is that hot food goes cold and tastes less appetising. This means we will gain another cue to stop eating.
Here is the Mindful eating exercise, have a go and let me know your experience.
Take a raisin and place it in the centre of your palm. Take a few minutes to just look at it, really examine it and take notice of the texture and shape. Smell it, what do you notice about the fragrance?
Now hold the raisin between a finger and thumb and gently touch it to the various taste centres on your tongue. Different parts of your tongue are designed to taste different types of foods from salty to sweet. Now take a very small nibble from the raisin and role the tiny piece of raisin around your mouth. Hold it in your mouth and move it around your tongue. Slowly eat the whole raisin tiny bite at a time.
How did it taste? What was your experience?
As the second part of this exercise eat consciously several complete meals over the next week or so. Make a note of how this impacts on your eating process and how much you are enjoying your food. You may discover some interesting paradoxes. One of my discoveries was to find out that there were several high calorie foods that I didn’t like when I ate them consciously! How weird is that? When I ate unconsciously I didn’t notice!
Go off now and experiment and report back to me your findings. If this is something you are already doing I am also curious to hear from you. Let me know if this practice has been helpful for you.
If you would like a copy of our Conference notes on the Zero Point send me an email direct: email@example.com