Eating Mindfully This Thanksgiving

TurkeyHow I love Thanksgiving! It’s a wonderful, low-key holiday typically spent feasting and relaxing with family and friends. No shopping, no pressure for the perfect gift, no fancy clothes, just time together with good food and drink. Our extended family will be gathering at my brother’s lovely home, and I’m really looking forward to seeing everybody.

The one thing I’m not looking forward to is overeating and experiencing that uncomfortable, overstuffed feeling at the end of the evening. Yet, based on years of experience, it’s a near certainty that I will. After the table is cleared, I’ll likely be slumped on the couch unbuckling my belt and thinking to myself, I’m not learning. I did it again!

Insanity being doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, I’m already conceding defeat in the battle to eat “right” on Thursday. I may be a loser but at least I’m sane. And I’m trying to keep my mind right on grace, remembering that God loves me and does not expect me to maintain ideal eating habits at all times. That said, I also know that God empowers me to hang in there and work on better stewardship of my mind, body and spirit. So I am going to try something new.

My new goal is simply to eat mindfully that day. I don’t want to set objectives like keeping a lid on my calories, or avoiding that bloated feeling. That’s what I keep failing at. No, without any guilty feelings, I’m going to let go of those and simply strive to eat mindfully. Here’s my plan:

Before I load up my plate I’m going to ask myself, Am I hungry? How hungry? After reflecting on the answers, I’ll go ahead and serve myself. Then I’m going to eat more slowly, savoring each bite and taking time for conversation during the meal.

I’ll wait a bit before a second helping, and I’ll to repeat the first two questions, Am I hungry? How hungry?  A couple more to ask myself are, How will I feel in 20 minutes if I eat more now? and, very importantly, Will I have room for pie? (Because I will want pie!) Once again I’ll try reflecting on the answers, even just for a moment, before getting another plateful.

If I get to considering a third serving (it’s been known to happen), I intend to keep up the questioning while reminding myself, Hey, I’m going to want to have pie!

Eventually we’ll get to the pie. I know we’ll have at least two versions – pumpkin pie and pecan pie – which are my favorites, because my wife baked them this afternoon. I intend to have a slice of each. My plan is to eat them very, very slowly using very tiny bites and accompanying them with sips of black coffee. I really want to wring maximal enjoyment out of the experience!

That’s the plan. Maybe I’ll overeat and maybe I won’t, but at least I will have been more mindful and intentional about the meal. Over time, cultivating habits like that is of great help in controlling impulsive eating, and I could use the help. Perhaps you’re like me. If so, don’t beat yourself up; we’re both God’s work in progress. Try a little mindful eating this Thursday. Don’t worry too much about how well or poorly it goes on this particular occasion. Just keep at it.

Oh, and have a slice of pie.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Pete

Sharon's handiwork. Nice!

Sharon’s handiwork. Nice!