When You Eat at the Fridge

I spent a few days at a resort in Mexico this past summer for a friend's wedding. I've known her since the 2nd grade and it was a really fun time hanging out with familiar faces.

It was also hot, so very hot. I took sweating to a whole new level. During the afternoon wedding in full sun on the beach, I discovered parts of my body that I didn't know could sweat. Toes, chins, elbows, you name it... I was drenched. Despite the intense heat, it was undoubtedly the most beautiful and moving ceremony I have ever had the privilege to witness.

It took some strategic eating to keep my sensitive body cool and comfortable. Not only in what I ate, but how I ate. I was in a different country and yet I had every type of food available to me. When you are in a contained environment, such as an all inclusive resort, with many different nationalities represented, there is food for all types of tastes and appetites. Being a naturally curious person, fascinated by other cultures, I kept my eyes peeled.

Culture Curiosity

As I walked by the all day buffet and grill, I noticed something rather special. Families, many of them, quietly and peacefully eating together. They would sit down at a table, have selected an array of fresh foods, chosen the ceramic plates, knife, fork, and a glass for their beverage. They were looking at their food, casually taking in their surroundings, eating relatively slowly and seemingly with care and attention. There was a definite appreciation of the food before them. It was subtle, but it immediately caught my eye. I always like to see what people like to eat. It is, after-all, my favorite subject.

Upon closer inspection, (that's right, I snooped) I noticed they didn't speak English. I heard German, Spanish, French and even Russian. Day after day, I noticed the same thing. Families, eating together peacefully and they were not American.

At first, I didn't know why I was looking at these families. Something about them was attractive to me. Something about the way they were being and eating during their mid-day meal that seemed so pleasant. They actually seemed to be enjoying each other's company and tasting their food. Ah! That was it!

My eyes darted from table to table with curiosity. Where were my fellow Americans? There they go! Drive by eat-n-run; grab a paper plate and fix some food to-go; take-out for pool side munching or for seascape snack. Busy! Busy! Busy!

Sometimes, I actually saw families sitting together, and oddly enough usually with one or more family members looking away, squirming in their seat or, I silently giggled, trying hard to control an energetic child running circles around their table. There was a distinct if not subtle energy in the way American families were eating their lunches and the way European families ate. A cultural lab experiment, if you will. And I found it fascinating. What IS that about?

Food American Style

Have we gotten so busy that even during vacation time, we've forgotten the pleasures of dining together? Do we have so much going on that we can not pay attention to what nourishes us? Are we so plum tired from every day life that we can't be bothered? I say, bring on the Slow Food Movement and let's sit down and hang out over delicious treats that also happens to fuel our life energy. Bring on the broccoli revolution! Vote yes for two hour lunch hours! (that IS on someone's campaign promises, isn't it?)

It's not just what you eat, it's also HOW you eat. How you may ask? Well let's not omit the obvious benefits of eating consciously: the pleasure and enjoyment factors. That IS nice. But did you also know...

- I've had clients get rid of Tums and other digestive aids by simply slowing down enough to chew their food well

- you'll eat much less when you pay attention to your food: given half a chance your body will get it's nutrients much more easily and effectively when you give it time to assimilate and concentrate on food digestion vs. your next "to-do"

- the presentation of your food, just like a gift, is part of the satisfaction, wouldn't you say? - do you pay attention to how your food looks on your plate or do you slop it on? Is it visually appealing and attractive? Is it colorful and vibrant? Your cravings will actually decrease

- eating on-the-go all the time can cause malabsorption of essential nutrients and constant cravings

- connecting with the people you dine fills you up on real-nourishment, it just doesn't come on your plate

Mindless, Frenzied, Stand-Up Feasting

A Beverly Hills plastic surgeon from the new reality show (yes, this is the quality stuff I watch) "Dr. 90210" showed the viewing audience his daily morning routine. He takes 2 dozen, hard-boiled eggs onto his patio and proceeds to choke down each egg white, discarding the yolk. (His wife makes him eat outside due to the smell) You can see his body reflex gag and he winces as he forces himself to eat what keeps him full and trim. I nearly puked just watching this. It wasn't pretty. Nuts I tell you!

Borrowing from the author Geneen Roth(www.geneenroth.com), "when you eat at the fridge, pull up a chair." We could all put cameras on our refrigerators and see what we look like in our frenzied, mindless, stand-up feasts. I imagine I look like a lost little girl, when I stare into the fridge, hoping and praying I can spot some chocolate-wrap foil twinkling in the florescent glow. No such luck!

Here's an idea: Try having ONE meal a day in peace, even if it's just a mini-meal snack, sit down without television or reading. It may feel difficult at first. Whether alone or with someone, choose to make that meal enjoyable. Breathe... Just check yourself and see how you're eating. Is it always on the go? Hurried? Distracted? Worried? Could our way of eating be affecting our health concerns? Yes, consider it possible. Trust me, you will crave less junk and your digestion will be much better.

Now is the perfect time to enjoy slowing down. Pull up a chair and enjoy your meals.

Karin Witzig of Wild Woman Wellness? Health Coaching has been in a private practice and a Speaker in the New York metropolitan area for nearly five years and has a national clientele of courageous women breaking out of their food ruts and energy-lulls. She specializes in making getting healthy highly pleasurable, practical and fun. She can be reached via http://www.wildwomanwellness.com

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