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Are you stuck eating lunch at your desk again?
You see, staying put can be surprisingly soothing compared to making a mad dash to the cafe for a sandwich and running back to your office, all the while worried that you’ll miss an important call.
If you feel chained to your desk, try viewing it instead as a powerful anchor that keeps you from drifting mindlessly.
Desk dining can be the epitome of mindlessness—or a remarkable opportunity to slow down, reconnect, and enjoy a delicious moment or two. You can choose a chug-and-chew cubicle lunch or settle in for a session of mindful mastication.
Mom always told us to slow down and chew our food properly. She was more worried about choking, indigestion and bad manners than she was about the possibility that we would grow up to be disconnected from our experience of dining.
As usual, Mom made good sense. New research indicates that becoming more mindful of every mouthful is a powerful way to reduce our food intake, increase our meal satisfaction, and savor more than just the taste of our veggie on rye.
Jean L. Kristeller, Ph.D., is professor of psychology and director of the Center for the Study of Health, Religion and Spirituality at Indiana State University. Over the last ten years, she has been working on ways to help overweight individuals develop greater awareness of their eating triggers using mindfulness meditation. Her program is being applied in a number of different settings, and the results have been quite promising.
There’s even a fancy term for her technique of paying attention to what you put into your mouth—Mindfulness-Based Eating Awareness Training, or MB-EAT for short. It’s not rocket science—just a simple way to assess your needs and attend to the process of eating slowly.
Even if you don’t have an eating disorder, chances are you’ve had more than a few meals on the go. Perhaps you are a practiced drive-and-diner, grabbing your order from the drive-thru window and perfecting your food balancing technique. More likely, you’ve eaten an entire lunch while simultaneously answering phones and typing out email messages—and not really tasting a single bite.
Don’t curse your go-go lifestyle. Instead, choose to savor a slow-slow moment—even if it’s just a two-minute yogurt break.
Your divine desk dining experience starts with a couple of deep breaths and a commitment to focusing for two—count ‘em, TWO—minutes. Feel your belly, and pay attention to any hunger pangs. Check in to see if you are eating now because it’s lunch time, because you are ravenous, or because you know you won’t get a chance to eat for several more hours. Take note.
Then, take a bite. Put down your fork, spoon or sandwich, and simply chew your food slowly, relishing the flavors and textures, just like Mom taught you. Do this for one minute, and then pause. Feeling better now? Sometimes the simple act of chewing mindfully for just a moment can help us slow down enough to recognize that we’re not that hungry.
Savor another minute of mindful mastication without getting wrapped up in thoughts of work or anything else. Come back to “just this bite” until your two minutes are up. After that, feel free to eat at your normal pace, and even if you get caught up in the type-and-swallow routine, simply note it.
We spend a lot of time and energy bemoaning our busy lives. Instead, spend two minutes tasting mindfulness right there at your desk.
It’s simply divine.
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