How to Eat Less and Enjoy It More
By Geneen Roth
Want to cut calories without cutting out all your favorites? Learn to pay
attention — real attention — to food.
A few years ago, I was working on my laptop, developing a new workshop
program, when one of my favorite series of all time came on TV — Pride and
Prejudice (the one starring Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy, although let's be
frank: Is there any other?). So I nestled into the couch, preparing to divide
the next six hours between my work and Jane Austen's most absorbing hero (the
only man for whom I might consider giving up chocolate, if he asked me — but
Darcy wouldn't do that).
Unfortunately, writing the outline turned out to be so hard, it grabbed all
my attention. Instead of diving into the Regency saga that virtually invented
sexual tension, I ended up slogging my way through reams of research. By the
time Lizzy Bennet was riding off in her carriage as Mrs. Darcy, my workshop was
as well-planned as D-day, but I felt as if I'd been cheated. I'd had the
world's most romantic story right in front of me, and I'd missed it.
This is the way most of us eat every day. The food is right there, but
because we're busy doing other things, we miss it. We chew, we swallow, but we
don't experience the taste of the food, the delight of it. And then, because we
missed the best parts, we go back for more. And more.
People tell me all the time that they love food. They love the taste, the
smell, the feeling in their mouths. But the truth is, when you love something,
you pay attention to it. When you love something, you take time with it. And
most of us don't pay attention to our food.
Think about all the ways you miss the pleasures of food because you're
multitasking or otherwise distracting yourself: eating while you're cooking,
reading, watching TV, or standing at the refrigerator door deciding what you
want to have; sampling the kids' leftovers, the interesting tidbits on your
partner's plate, the broken cookies on the counter at work (no, it is not true
that once cookies are broken, all the calories escape).
And then there's eating while pretending to do something else. You walk by a
cake. You see that some thoughtless person has taken a crooked slice. Now it's
up to you to even things out. You edge one side and eat the thin, leftover
shaving. Then you see that the other side is crooked too. Conscious of your
responsibility to cake aesthetics, you edge that side and eat the shaving.
Before long, half the cake is gone. But you never really decided to cut
yourself a slice, so it doesn't count as eating.