To get the most out of a story, we need to read the beginning, the middle and the end. If we were to apply this approach to our eating, what would it look like?
The start of a story might seem slow and uneventful, but it lays out the foundation of the story. We discover where the story is set, the main characters and the purpose of the story. Similarly, before eating we might pause to become aware of our hunger, consider the food choices before us and use our senses to add to our eating experience. In some cultures, saying grace is observed. As well as creating an attitude of gratitude and an awareness of where our food is from, this pause also serves to set the mood, focus and pace for our eating. When we eat without awareness, such as when we eat on the run, in the car, at the desk, we barely look at our food, and may even have little or no recollection of what was eaten. It’s as if we are skipping the beginning of the story, eager to just get to the climax because it is taking too long for the story line to unfold.
The middle of the story is where we read with utmost attention as the plot develops. Just like rushing this part of the story can miss important details about the plot, so too not eating at a relaxed pace can make us miss important aspects of the food we are eating or our body cues. When we eat our meal based on the time we have available we may end our meal prematurely, leaving us feeling unsatisfied and then constantly searching for something else to eat. Or, we may rush this phase to the point of overshooting our fullness cues and feel overly full.
The ending of the story serves to ‘connect the dots,’ and get closure on the events from the story. When we finish a story, we often find ourselves pausing to reflect on our thoughts, what we enjoyed or what we hoped would be different in the story. This reflection also serves to shape our future reading choices. In a similar way, post meal rituals signal the end of eating. This could be a thought or a comment on what part of the meal gave us the most enjoyment (“I really enjoyed the ___ today”). It also serves as a way of reinforcing a meal has been eaten and relished. Other rituals could include finishing the meal with a post-meal grace, eating a piece of fruit, having a chewing gum, a coffee, or a tiny serve of something sweet.
A word to the wise
- Together, the three phases provide an opportunity to focus on our hunger before starting to eat, insight into our fullness after eating and a time to reflect on our enjoyment of the meal.
- When we skip a phase, when we eat as if one phase of our meal is optional, then nutrition, health and/or enjoyment, suffer.
- Next time you eat, take note of whether you eat with a beginning, middle and an end.
For more insights with your eating habits, please seek professional support.