When I was 16, I snuck out of the house to meet an older boy at the movie theatre. I was a smitten teen who knew nothing of the world, let alone dating. Thankfully, Teen Beat taught me everything I needed to know, so off I went rocking my poufy perm and skin-tight Jordache jeans.
He bought us a large popcorn, but I was too self-conscious to eat in front of him. It didn’t matter if we were sitting in the dark, I didn’t want him to see, or hear me chew. But he insisted, so I took ONE kernel, put it on my tongue and let it sit there like a communion wafer for the entire movie.
Fast-forward 35 years. Whenever I go to the movies these days I can down an entire bag of popcorn before the movie even starts! Unfortunately, my mindless eating doesn’t stop at the theatre. I’ve finished many a meal without realizing it. This typically happens when I’m distracted, like when I eat at my desk, or when watching TV, or like right now as I type this…. I just ate a lovely dinner that I have no recollection of. By the remnants on the plate, I think it was trout, wild rice, and a salad.
Mindless eating is so pervasive in our fast-paced society; we’ve forgotten how to savour not only our food, but life and experiences as well. I mentioned this to a friend the other day and she sent me a link to an online discussion on eating mindfully. The facilitator was interviewing Dr. Susan Albers, a clinical psychologist and an authority on the subject. She’s penned several books on the topic, and I even happen to have one of them in my 12 in 12 library, which ironically, I haven’t had the time to read… yet!
Dr. Albers guided us through an exercise that seemed ridiculous, and in all honesty, I wouldn’t have tried it if I wasn’t alone. The exercise is usually done with a raisin, however, she used a piece of chocolate. Since I don’t keep any in the house anymore, I followed along using a blackberry.
Dr. Albers asked us to:
- Pick up our piece of food, close our eyes, and feel the weight of it.
- She instructed us to open our eyes and asked what was going through our minds as we examined it – I was thinking this is silly, but heck, I’m on a quest to find my after and who knows, it might be somewhere in the blackberry bush.
- She asked us to bring it to our nose and take a deep breath. She asked what the smell invoked.
- She instructed us to place it against our lips and asked what it felt like.
- Next, she said to put it in our mouth and let it rest on our tongue.
- After a few moments, she told us to roll it around in our mouth. She asked what it felt like…. I never realized how rubbery blackberries are… like bumpy, rubbery tonsils.
- Then she said we could take ONE bite. She asked us what flavours were released… hmmm, earthy, slightly sweet with a hint of tartness.
- Finally, she instructed us to take a few more slow bites until it was time to swallow.
Who’da thunk it would take three whole minutes to eat a single blackberry? If I do this with my movie popcorn, I could watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy and only get halfway through the bag!
Studies show that mindless eating leads to over-consumption of needless calories. If you’re like me and you don’t have 47 hours to eat your lunch, no worries… Dr. Albers suggests using your non-dominant hand to eat. Researchers have determined that you can reduce your intake by 30% with this handy little tip!
Now to answer your burning questions… the movie was The Elephant Man, and the guy was my now ex-husband.