When is enough enough? I have to ask myself that question because last night I overindulged on a mega portion of turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing from my favorite local restaurant.
My wife and I usually enjoy a sit-down meal at Sally Pursell's Country Inn. But last night we didn't feel like cleaning up for a night out so I made the run for takeout.
Each of our styrofoam containers weighed at least 3 pounds. There was enough turkey and sides to feed a small family. Yet I proceded to munch my way through all of my food except a small scoop of mashed potatoes. (My wife meanwhile took a normal-sized portion from her container and ate it from a plate like a normal person would do...)
I spent the rest of the evening moaning and trying to sit or lie down comfortably. I also kept asking myself, "Why didn't I stop when I had had enough?!"
Hmmm... maybe contributing blogger Pavel Somov can shed some light on my behavior -- and help you at the same time. Meanwhile, today I am back on my Diet-to-Go low-carb eating plan
by Pavel Somov
Portion control, the good old divide (the portion) and conquer (overeating) approach, is not without merit. But what if you redefine the portion size from how many mouthfuls you can have to how many mindfuls you need to feel full, if you shift your attention from a mouthful to a mindful, from a serving to a savoring?
What's a Mindful? A mindful, to coin a term, is a unit of mental absorption in whatever it is that you are doing.
For example, as you look back at a typical day, perhaps most of it was spent in a state of robotic, mindless monotony, with the exception of a couple of moments when you were really present, thoughtful, and mindful of something.
Maybe you found yourself scratching your head over some challenging problem. Maybe, at the end of your lunch break, you caught a glimpse of a bird swaying on a tree branch. Maybe, when finally home, sitting in your car in the driveway, you had a sense of perspective. Whatever their content, these moments of being mindful are just that: states of being attuned to the moment, absorbed in the here and now.
In application to eating, a mindful is a moment of being conscious of eating. Maybe it will last 10 seconds, maybe half a minute. But however long, it is a unit of awareness, a serving of mindfulness.
A Savoring, to coin another term, is a unit of mindful appreciation, a moment of conscious enjoyment, a highlight.
To have a savoring, you first have to have a moment of eating consciousness (a mindful). After all, how can you enjoy a moment if you are not aware of it? So, whereas mouthfuls and servings are the units of fullness, mindfuls and savorings are the units of mind-fullness.
To help you shift from fullness to mind-fullness, I suggest that at the end of your meals, you look back at your experience and take stock of how conscious you were of your eating and of the moments of eating you enjoyed.
How many mindfuls did you have? Which moments were you actually fully conscious? Were you present when you tasted the food? Were you present when you picked up the fork? Were you present when you had a sip of water? How many savorings did you have? Which specific moments of delight did you register? What did you enjoy? Did you consciously enjoy biting into that apple? Did you consciously enjoy the aroma of the bread? Was your mind full?
Set a goal: One mindful per serving, one savoring per meal.
Challenge yourself and set a more ambitious goal: One mindful per mouthful, one savoring per serving.
Shift from the unpleasant fullness of the body to the pleasant expansion of the mind!
Pavel Somov, Ph.D., author of "Eating the Moment: 141 Mindful Practices to Overcome Overeating One Meal at a Time" (New Harbinger) is a licensed psychologist in private practice, with a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the State University of New York (at Buffalo). For more information visit www.eatingthemoment.com.