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How to Eat Less and Enjoy It More

continued...

This is no way to treat cake. If you dearly love food, why do you rob yourself of all the delight and satisfaction it brings you by not paying attention to how it tastes and feels? Why do you doom yourself to want more, more, more of something when you could have been pleased with less, if only you'd been present for it?

In my workshops, we do an exercise on paying real attention to food. Every­one gets a small cup containing two raisins, a corn chip, and a small piece of chocolate. Everyone looks at the cup. They look at me. They look back at the cup. "One corn chip? Are you kidding? I ate more than this when I was 2 days old," said a woman at one workshop.

Giggles and snickers.

"OK," I say, "I know this is a very small amount of food, but let me ask you: Do you remember the last time you actually tasted one raisin?"

One woman says, "I've never eaten just one raisin. Raisins are meant to be eaten in bulk."

Everyone nods their heads. Then we proceed with the exercise.

First they pick up the corn chip. They smell it. They look at it closely. They take a small bite and notice what the chip feels like in their mouths. Then I ask them to comment on their experiences.

Most of them say things like: "Oh my God, I've been eating corn chips for 20 years and I never ever realized I didn't like them." Or "Wow! What I really want is the salt. The rest tastes like cardboard." We move on to the raisins, but we eat only one. People say that they usually eat a hundred of them. A box of them. Several handfuls of them. But if you are eating raisins by the handful, how do you know when you have had enough? How do you even know what a raisin tastes like if you are eating 90 of them at once? At this point, it's the bulk you are enjoying, not the taste of the raisin.

And then, oh then, comes the moment everyone has been waiting for: eating the Hershey's Kiss. They unwrap it. Suspense builds. I ask how many of them are certain they are going to like it. Duh, they say, this is chocolate we're talking about.

Goodhousekeeping Photo of Hershey Kiss Unwrapped

So they smell the Hershey's Kiss and then they pop it in their mouths and chew for a minute or two. This is a radical act, taking time with a piece of chocolate. Usually the one in our mouths is just a prelude to the next one and the next.

One woman says, "I can't believe this, but it tastes waxy. I don't like it, even though I've been eating these things for years."

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