Have you ever eaten in front of the TV because you don’t want to feel like you’re eating alone? Or maybe because you think you’ll get bored if you don’t have anything to distract yourself?
What I’ve found, though, is that if I am being truly mindful about eating, I don’t feel alone even if I am by myself, nor do I get bored. My secret? I focus on the food.
Physically, I pay attention to my meal or snacks, looking at it, smelling it, tasting the different flavors and enjoying a variety of textures and temperatures. With so much going on, it is hard to get bored.
Admittedly, this only works if you’re eating food you love or at least like. It’s certainly no fun with something don’t like. When you eat distractedly, though, it can be hard to even notice the flavor or if it agrees with you, so you lose potential enjoyment or the discovery that maybe you don’t want a certain dish again.
But it goes deeper than that. If you’ve never done this, I invite you to try an experiment. Before you begin eating, look at all the elements of the meal, and consider where they came from. As you eat, try to imagine the food at its source, and all the ways it was nourished.
Most of the time this means thinking about the people who raised or grew it, as well as all the natural elements involved: the sun providing energy to plants; the plants sustaining you or the animals you eat; the water keeping everything hydrated; the bees and other insects pollinating and propagating and aerating soil; those who harvested and packaged and prepared the food. You can go even further, thinking of older generations who created the recipe, or passed down the knowledge of how to grow and harvest and preserve; those who first discovered that a certain food tastes delicious when prepared just the right way.
If I think like this, I find I can’t possibly feel alone. I am connected to all of these people, animals, plants, and elements, all of which have come together to nourish my body. They are silent company, but they are always with me. I am not, after all, eating alone.