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I eat way too fast

zenguitarzenguitar Bad BuddhistNew England Veteran

Buongiorno Sangha,

I have been practicing basic breath meditation lately and I am getting better at it, and I think the benefits are starting to seep into my daily life a little bit. But there is (at least) one area where I exercise nearly total lack of mindfulness: eating.

As long as I can recall, I have scarfed down my meals like someone is going to take it away from me. And often I am surfing the web at the same time. I almost feel like I can't help it, which is terrible. I know I should slow down, but I can't. I gotta have that next mouthful! As a result, I often end up eating more food than I should.

Any suggestions on how to eat more mindfully? I've tried the "brute force" approach where you just force yourself to chew each mouthful 20 times or whatever, but that only lasts about a minute and I'm back to shoveling it in.

P.S.: It doesn't help that I come from a background that loves to mangia (Italian/American). Can you imagine yourself eating one grain of rice at a time mindfully at, say, a typical Neapolitan feast, surrounded by heaping servings of lasagne, ravioli, ham, cannolis etc and relatives egging you on? :smile:

"What are you, sick or something?" they may ask.

"No," you say, "I am practicing Buddhist mindfulness."

"You are practicing what?? Here, have some veal!"

"I am a vegetarian."

"Huh? Why?? Here, have a glass of wine!"

"Sorry, I am practicing the Fifth Precept."

"You are what?? Maybe you should see a doctor or something."

Amthornmmo
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Comments

  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    This is great @karasti, thank you for the detailed advice.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited February 2015

    I'm Italian - or t least, 50% of me is. I eat quite slowly, and I love to savour food and enjoy every mouthful at my leisure....

    Italians love to sit and eat, and it's not unheard of for meals to last 3 hours, maybe more (I know, I've been to several...) So I hate to say it @zenguitar , your cultural provenance has nothing to do with how fast you eat...

    I echo pretty much everything karasti has told you.
    The best bit of advice though, really is to put your utensil down, and to not pick it up again until your mouthful has gone.

    One suggestion though: make sure the plate is hot when you put food onto it.
    Othewise, you may find your food chilling rather, by the time you're half-way through....

    Smaller plates/portions helps too....

    zenguitarmmo
  • ChazChaz The Remarkable Chaz Anywhere, Everywhere & Nowhere Veteran

    @zenguitar said:
    Any suggestions on how to eat more mindfully? I've tried the "brute force" approach where you just force yourself to chew each mouthful 20 times or whatever, but that only lasts about a minute and I'm back to shoveling it in.

    I know an excellent one. Attend a Shambhala "Dathun" (dah-tune). All meals are taken using a Japanese (Zen, I think) practice called "Oryoki". Oryoki is, essentially, mindful eating.

    http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ōryōki

    I don't know if this can help you break a habit. It will teach you mindful eating.

    Like you, I'm a fast eater. Drives my mother crazy. However, at my age, I see little point in trying to change that habit.

    zenguitar
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Fast eating can lead to diverticulitis and other intestinal problems, later in life.

    Pardon me @Chaz, but there's EVERY point in tying to change that habit. ;)
    The effects are really very unpleasant, and the operation required both invasive and very, very uncomfortable.

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    There is a book about Oryoki by Lama Tony Duff as well. I have it on kindle but haven't read it yet, lol.

    zenguitar
  • silversilver In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded. USA, Left coast. Veteran

    Chill, @Chaz.....we all care about you, whether you like it or not, ha ha. Truth. @Jeffrey I do the same thing, but I'm much better and have slowed down a lot in recent couple of years. Since I know it's 'not right' to eat so fast like a jet, because it affects how well you digest the food, I intentionally make myself eat at a slower pace, and be more mindful of the tastes, textures and aromas of what I'm eating. It helps to pay attention to those things. Maybe it will help you to slow down, too.

    federicadantepw
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    My grandma smoked 2 packs a day for 65 years. She stopped 3 years ago. Why? Because she spent most of 4 months in the hospital. She had developed diverticulitis and never told anyone she was having problems. It led to a HUGE impaction that required surgery and some horrific colonoscopies. Part of her intestine was removed. She now has a colostomy and a separate second ostomy that resulted from her surgery incision opening up. Poop randomly leaks from 2 separate holes in her belly if it gets under the adhesive. She spent so much time in the hospital, she just never started smoking again. But she lives for the rest of her time with a colostomy that is very difficult for her. When she has to go out of town, she refuses to eat in case there is a problem with the bag. She gave up a number of her favorite foods because the resulting problems with the colostomy made them too difficult to consume. She sometimes wakes up in the middle of the night with the adhesive on her colostomy coming off, and then spends hours cleaning up the resulting mess. She has also developed infections and other complications requiring more hospital stays.

    So, it very well might be worth changing your eating habits :) Despite her having COPD and congestive heart failure, losing my grandpa to cancer caused by his naval job, and losing a couple of grand kids as well, she votes this as the worst thing she has ever had to deal with, because it will never end. She has fallen into depression more than once over it because it has fundamentally changed the way she lives and interacts with people. It's never too late to change if you want to do so. Her diet and her smoking were attributed to causing the diverticulitis. Not saying you have to, or should. Just saying, if you wanted to, you could.

    zenguitar
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @federica said:
    Italians love to sit and eat, and it's not unheard of for meals to last 3 hours, maybe more (I know, I've been to several...) So I hate to say it zenguitar , your cultural provenance has nothing to do with how fast you eat...

    Yeah, I guess I was conflating amount eaten and speed of consumption. My background more influences the former than the latter. :smile:

  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    Wow, I had no idea about the diverticulitis! Thanks, I am definitely motivated to eat more slowly and mindfully now. :smile:

    And sorry if my post/comments caused any discord amongst the Sangha! That was not intentional. :smile:

  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    I'm trying to slow down when I eat as well. Unfortunately, I can't offer much advice, and can only commiserate. When I was young, I could snarf down huge quantities of food this way, but as I age it's simply led to me being overweight. I've been trying to practice mindful eating since reading a passage in Thich Nhat Hanh's Anger: Wisdom For Cooling the Flame, but it's been difficult. Thanks for the advice @karasti.

    zenguitar
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    I have been trying to get my kids to learn this a bit. My oldest (18) is a 3 sport athlete and eats more in a meal than I eat in a day! But he will not likely continue the competitive sports in college and learning how not to eat 4000 calories a day will be challenge. I told him if he slows down, it'll be easier and he'll actually taste his food. He eats more like our dog and will devour a burger in 3 bites, lol.

    It really is just an all around nicer experience. Plus, when I started realizing all I was feeling and tasting, it changed what I wanted to eat, and how to prepare it. Before, I might grab a bowl of cold cereal for lunch (or 3 bowls, really) and now it does not bother me to plan ahead and spend a half hour cutting up veggies. Preparing your food with awareness and care has an effect on how it tastes, and your overall eating experience, too.

    federicarobotdantepwmmo
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    UN-BAN @Chaz, please! - chant repeatedly until @Chaz is released! I hate naughty corners...

    Anyway back to the OP, agree to many of the above comments; my wife and I are practicing mindful eating where we eat until we feel satisfied, then push our plates away, ok so there is some waste to begin with. However, we are really coming to understand when our bodies are saying OK that's enough I feel full - any more eating is gluttony.

    It takes a bit of perseverence at first, but both of us are losing weight sustainably because of it and feel less bloated. It's surprising how your portion size changes (what was once a meal that stuffed 2 has become a meal that easily feeds 4 - when you are served a plate overloaded with food, you feel obliged to eat it...

    I no longer eat starters when I go out for a meal, and rarely eat desert! Just do what you feel is right, there are many people out there who feel you have to eat and drink as much as possible if they are to be seen as being a proper host.

    dantepw
  • Use chopsticks.

    Italians love to laugh at meal times. :p

    zenguitar
  • howhow Veteran
    edited February 2015

    I think both Fed & Chaz should be sent to bed without dessert.
    Somehow both have forgotten how explosive this site can get around food all while daring the other to put a toe across another line in the sand. If there was a video we'd have seen chest bumping.

    anyway quickly getting my chops in before my avatar turns red too

    @ zenguitar

    Food volume control..
    remembering that 2/3rds of your stomach feeds you, the last 1/3 feeds your doctor.

    and Speed control...breath mindfulness and eating.
    It is in the activities that are hardest for you to remain mindful within where you can really see if a meditative focus on your breath is an awareness of a feeling or if it has really been co-opted as a thought. Much of a meditative breath focus is meant to move your sense of identity away from our miopic thought processes over into the other equally valid sense gates ( eg. the body).
    Thinking about the breath, instead of remaining aware of feeling some aspect of the breath, side lines much of the potential benefit that a breath focus can bring to a meditation practice.

    karasti
  • DakiniDakini Veteran
    edited February 2015

    This site can get "explosive around food"?? O.o I thought fed was trying to be helpful. Just saying.
    And it would be great to hear back from the OP. Maybe he'll get back to us after dinner. :)

    dantepw
  • LincLinc Community Instigator Detroit Moderator
    edited February 2015

    @anataman said:
    UN-BAN Chaz, please! - chant repeatedly until Chaz is released!

    This is where I appear and remind folks that while Federica may be the one you see, she's not the only one watching and she rarely makes banning decisions alone or as the result of a single exchange.

    @how said:
    I think both Fed & Chaz should be sent to bed without dessert.

    I'm going to read that as an attempt at levity and let it be. Suffice to say I don't share in your assessment of blame, despite that not being my favorite exchange ever (which I've removed now).

    Let's press on, I'm sure this isn't helping @zenguitar's digestion. ;)

    howkarastilobsteranataman
  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    Thanks for checking in, @Linc.

    I was thinking today about where my initial "eat as fast as you can" habits had come from, as a result of this discussion. Growing up, it was myself, my sister, and our parents. We always had home-cooked meals and no real shortage of snack foods. But seconds were hard to come by. If you wanted to win a second biscuit, you had to finish eating first. So it was kind of set up as a reward system where if you ate fast enough, you got more, or something you really wanted. Otherwise, we didn't want for anything as far as food went, so I'm not sure where my hangups about eating habits came from. Just cultural, I'm sure. We pride ourselves on multitasking SO much in the west, especially in the US, that taking the time to sit and enjoy our food, and do nothing else, makes us feel guilty. Sad.

    lobster
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    @zenguitar,

    Use chopsticks

    lobsterSpinyNorman
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    Chopsticks would be good for me, or maybe a very small spoon. ;)

    lobster
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    Thank you so much everyone, these are all really insightful comments. By the way, I managed to put down my utensil between bites last night, thus slowing down just a bit. I am making a little bit of progress! :smile:

    Linckarastidantepwmmo
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Progress is only Right Effort if you keep it up.

    I think, on the basis of how well it makes you feel, keep it up as long as you can - give it a week, and see whether you actually discern any physical difference....

    You never know, it may well benefit you on various levels...

  • @Shoshin, I have found chopsticks to be a great way to eat slower! If I'm not mindful, I will gobble down food at lightning speed. Chopsticks require concentration, and dexterity, and patience. Ever get to the point where the muscles in your fingers are aching from chopsticks? Then it becomes a balance between letting your fingers rest and wanting to eat another bite.

    Over the last two years, I have changed my eating habits a lot, and now I eat much more slowly...

    ...that is, until recently. All my bad eating habits have been coming back. I think it is due to anxiety related to money, work, and relationships. I have been eating food that is bad for me. I have been eating too much of it. I have been eating it too frequently. I have been eating it too quickly. This has been going on for the last few weeks.

    Luckily, I am aware that it is happening and I can reverse this trend and get back to my healthy eating habits. A few weeks of bad eating habits can't completely destroy my last few years of good eating habits. Can it? I hope not. But I've probably managed to gain about 10 pounds this past month.

    My next meal will be a mindful one.

    zenguitarShoshindantepwmmo
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    Thanks everyone. My only remaining question though is, can you eat pizza with chopsticks? :smile:

    thegoldeneternitysilvernakazcidShoshin
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited February 2015
  • ShoshinShoshin No one in particular Nowhere Special Veteran

    thegoldeneternity
  • Easy! Haha.

  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    Here is a bizarre, tangentially-related item. In Korea, some people pay money to watch other people eat online. I'm thinking, if I charge by the minute, then I definitely have an incentive to eat slowly and mindfully. :smiley:

    http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-31130947

    dantepwmmo
  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Yay, go for it!!

  • karastikarasti Breathing Minnesota Veteran

    You could make a living if you do it all right. You could get paid for people to watch you eat, and then get paid for using the bathroom later ;) There is a company now that is starting a fecal bank for people who need fecal transplants. So if you are selected, you can send them enough "deposits" to make yourself $13,000 a year. You'd be all set between the 2 :lol:

    dantepwmmo
  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @karasti said:
    You could make a living if you do it all right. You could get paid for people to watch you eat, and then get paid for using the bathroom later ;) There is a company now that is starting a fecal bank for people who need fecal transplants. So if you are selected, you can send them enough "deposits" to make yourself $13,000 a year. You'd be all set between the 2 :lol:

    Oh boy, I think perhaps this is a sign that this thread has run its course... :lol:

    silverkarastidantepwmmo
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    edited February 2015

    Hey! Who wants to watch me meditate instead, I'm a slow eater, and tend to read something at the same time, so might be a bit boring to watch?

    I'm setting up an online account - show interest, pay an upfront non-refundable joining fee, and I'll do it. I'll enable a function where people can comment on my technique etc. like:

    @charlatan said @ 10:45: he wobbled, did you see that...

    @dubious commented @ 10:47: not sure, I think he might have been nodding his head a bit there...

    then an advert for betanataman will pop up saying 3-1 he falls asleep in the next 10 minutes - free £5 for your first bet

    @dharmabasher ranted @ 12:48: He's not even on the 2nd dhyana - why are you guy's watching him - look at me doing dhyana levels never witnessed before and much much more :wink: for $1... @ www.dharmaanddhyanaexplainedforasubsequentfeetoberevealed.om

    @athiest said @ 12:34 is this guy for real? He certainly ain't god in my opinion

    @bodhisattvalol commented ...\lol/...

    howzenguitardantepw
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    Come on @linc - I deserve an icon to laugh at myself - it's required to be a fully fledged buddhist, I earned it, you've learned it, but this is supposed to be a world of frustration - you are just perpetuating it } ...\lol/... {

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    I'm staying out of this.....

    anataman
  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran
    edited February 2015

    I'm free when @linc lets me laugh at myself - lol (half-hearted lol it may appear to be - it's real nonetheless :silenced:)

  • anatamananataman Who needs a title? Where am I? Veteran

    Doomed I am to a samsaric existence...

    However, there is another way, a middle way... where SG expounds the 4NT and suffering is brought to an end. Consciousness appears magically transformed, and in a blissful realisation where all is known to be perfect @linc draws a line................

    NO he says, you MUST NOT LAUGH AT YOURSELF in the eyes of others. It's not in the rules

    Why not?

    BECAUSE!

    Because what

    @linc said: Because you little S%*t - I have to do a load of work to keep things up and running and... do you know how long it took me to get those bloody icons up and running in the last year, fixing all you guys pathetic little quibbles like "icons not working etc', and you know you are not my favourite participant in this forum - in fact you're banned... It's easier this way... goodbye...

    Caged Anataman looks on longingly at all those opportunities to comment on, well, just other peoples comments, and in the silence lets his wail of never being able to laugh at himself disappear...... again, and again and again ad infinitum ...\lol/...

    Thanks @linc @anataman says as he is duly thrown into room lol...

    Goddammit - you will give me an icon eventually...

    ...\lol/...

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited February 2015

    Right, back to the thread....

    @zenguitar , this article may be of interest to you, or indeed anyone on the thread...

    It's basically much of what has already been said, but it makes good points also about food content and value.

  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    I find that when I sit down to eat, I tend to focus on one serving at a time. So if I have a plate with three servings on it, I'll snarf them down 1, 2, 3. Instead, I'm trying to move back and forth between them in a more relaxed manner. So I'll nibble on my potatoes, then take a bite of green beans, then move back to the potatoes, then have a bite of meatloaf, etc. This keeps me focused on the plate and the meal, and forces me to slow down when I eat.

    zenguitar
  • SpinyNormanSpinyNorman It's still all old bollocks Veteran

    Back in college days my nickname was "Greedy kitten", which will give you a clue as to my eating habits. ;)

  • Thanks for this thread! I have this exact same awful habit. I can go through a meal of any size in minutes, without appreciating anything about it. Chopsticks do make a difference, I've found, but still I think that mindful eating is what I'm missing out on.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited February 2015

    @SpinyNorman said: Back in college days my nickname was "Greedy kitten", which will give you a clue as to my eating habits.

    lapping it up while purring...?

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Soup.
    Soup can last an aaaaawful long time, with chopsticks.

    nakazcidkarastimmo
  • nakazcidnakazcid Somewhere in Dixie, y'all Veteran

    @federica said:
    Soup.
    Soup can last an aaaaawful long time, with chopsticks.

    Especially tomato soup...

  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @nakazcid said:
    Especially tomato soup...

    And especially if it's piping hot. :smile: I suppose that's another trick one can use, that is, make the food unpleasant/painful to eat quickly.

  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @federica said:
    Right, back to the thread....

    zenguitar , this article may be of interest to you, or indeed anyone on the thread...

    It's basically much of what has already been said, but it makes good points also about food content and value.

    Thanks, I have only a slight problem with weight (a few pounds over ideal, not too bad) but I do want to slow down.

  • federicafederica seeker of the clear blue sky Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Oh goodness, sorry! I wasn't implying you must be overweight.... I merely thought the article made some interesting points, vis-avis our discussion here... echoes of similar thoughts....

  • zenguitarzenguitar Bad Buddhist New England Veteran

    @federica said:
    Oh goodness, sorry! I wasn't implying you must be overweight.... I merely thought the article made some interesting points, vis-avis our discussion here... echoes of similar thoughts....

    No offense taken! The article is pretty good anyway. :smile:

  • Hello @zenguitar and friends! :)

    I have huge trouble with eating slowly as well, but I've been giving it a go since saturday and it's been quite fine so far. It helps you to focus on the moment as well, and not only keep your body healthy. So far I'm not aware if I used any specific techniques, but I will keep an eye on that and tell you. :)

    lobster
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