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Good Vibrations

I’ve been seeing articles lately about a new type of fork that can sense how quickly you’re eating, and if you’re going too fast (i.e., not enough seconds between bites), it lets you know by vibrating and flashing lights. The goal of this is to promote slower, more mindful eating habits, as well as tracking all sorts of information about your meal so you can reference the data time and presumably identify any patterns.

I have mixed feelings about this. While I appreciate the desire to help people slow down, I can think of a number of pitfalls for this approach.

First and most obvious, it only works if you’re eating something that requires a fork. If you’re having cereal or ice cream or something else that needs a spoon, or consuming finger foods, it won’t help. Similarly, it means you would need to bring the fork with you everywhere – potlucks, restaurants, business lunches, friends’ houses – which could be a little odd and distracting, particularly in a work setting.

Plus, while I realize the vibration is not meant to be harmful, and I’ve never tried it, the concept feels a little too close to a punishment. I imagine it would also be very easy to get so caught up in “obeying” the fork that you could lose sight of enjoying the food itself as you wonder how many seconds it’s been, or how many times you’ve chewed, or how many bites you’ve taken.

But my bigger concern is that this only addresses one part of mindful eating. It doesn’t help with how big a bite you’re taking, what you’re doing while eating, or, most importantly, why you’re eating to begin with. Without addressing the question of “why”, I don’t think the fork will be “the answer to the obesity problem in America.” At best, it might be a tool that could help people transition to eating more slowly and start developing different habits, but people still need to be responsible for what and how they eat, rather than leaving it to a fork.

Personally, I have no interest in this gadget, preferring a more holistic approach of savoring my food in every way, which includes slowing down so I can appreciate all the flavors and textures. It works in all situations, for all types of foods, and I’ve found that the good vibrations I get by eating that way are the only kind I need.

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