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The Last One

I’ve been having fun watching old episodes of Cheers, and I recently got to the one with Sam’s bachelor party before his wedding to Diane. When he realizes for the first time that he won’t be with any other women for the rest of his life, he tries to explain his horror by making an analogy to eating a bowl of popcorn:

“You can munch away as long as you know there’s a bowlful, but if all of a sudden it’s all gone and there’s nothing left but the salt and the duds, well you feel bad because if you’d known the last kernel was the last one, you would have savored it.”

It made me laugh, but at least as far as eating is concerned, Sam’s comment has a lot of truth in it. This is one of the problems with mindless eating. If we don’t pay attention to our food enough to truly taste it, or even notice when we’re coming to the end, we’re apt to just continue shoveling the food in until it’s gone. Only then do we notice we haven’t tasted it, and we may feel cheated about that loss. And so we may eat more of it, wanting to get the full experience that we missed the first time around.

The problem with that approach is two-fold. One, we eat more than we need or probably even want. Two, by the time we get to the second round of food, we’re likely not hungry, and the food won’t taste as good as it would if we ate mindfully while being hungry.

By focusing on the food from the beginning, though, we’re likely to enjoy it more. And by the time we get to the end, we don’t have that panicked feeling of having missed out on the experience. We can come to a natural finishing point, savoring not just the last bite but each and every one, and are not just left staring at the duds, wondering what happened.

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