This is a bit obvious isn’t it? After all, diets have told us that special plates will help us moderate our food intake, there are well-known diagrams about balancing our food groups; we have even been advised to use a small plate to cut down the amount we eat. We all know that putting food on a plate is the civilised option, so what’s this Principle about and why is it given equal importance with the others?
This Principle is not about using crockery to cheat us into eating less. It is about acknowledging that we are eating, right now, this food right here and that we are going to just eat this food right here, right now and not cover up the fact that we are eating this food, right here, right now with any other distraction.
This Principle is about all those times when we eat food without noticing – I’m sure you can think of occasions when you groped around in a suddenly empty crisp packet and wondered where all the crisps went. Or there’s suddenly no more ice-cream in the tub that you could have sworn was full just a moment ago. These occasions often occur, at least partly, because we are not focusing on the food we are eating – we are reading, watching TV, catching up with Facebook, on the phone, finishing off that report or just wandering round the house in a spare moment.
Putting food on a plate acknowledges that we are eating.
Sitting down with the food on the plate makes us stop what we are doing because we are going to eat this food on our plate and not do anything but that.
Focusing on the food means that we can really savour and appreciate what we are eating and it gives us more of an opportunity to Stop When We Are Satisfied (see future blog for this one!).
The opposite of focusing on food could look something like this:
I buy a freshly baked crusty roll from the bakery and tear it apart, eating it bit by bit as I do the rest of the shopping and as I walk home until …. the roll has gone and I don’t remember actually tasting it. I can Tune In and realise that I’m no longer hungry, but I haven’t had the enjoyment from that freshly baked, warm, crusty bread roll that I had anticipated.
If, instead, I had taken the roll straight home, put it on a nice plate with butter and spreads for me to choose from and really focused on eating that roll just how I like it – I would Enjoy (another Principle to look forward to in a later blog!) the experience and I would be much more satisfied with my eating experience.
I’m sure you can think of all sorts of objections to this Principle:
– What if I really can’t sit down to eat this food?
– What if it’s our family tradition to eat in front of the TV?
– What if I’m at work and there isn’t a table I can sit at?
– What if I’m at a finger buffet where they haven’t provided plates?
– My job doesn’t allow a sit down and focusing sort of lunch-break, I have to eat on the go.
– I have small children and I never get to sit down and focus!
As with many of the other Principles, if you are finding objections popping into your head at the mere mention of Put it on a Plate, Sit down and Focus, then maybe start by looking at one of the other Principles first. You can come back to this one when it feels right for you. In the meantime, keep an eye out for the occasions when you could put your food on a plate, sit down and really focus on it and Enjoy!
I said in an earlier Blog that Tuning In intersects and interweaves with all the other Principles – well, in the space created by taking time to Put it on a plate, Sit down and focus, you could pop in a quick Tune In … what can I feel physically? What am I feeling emotionally? What am I thinking? The information you gather can really add to the experience of really focusing on the food you are about to eat – how is it affecting you, how are you feeling about it, what are you thinking about this eating experience? Oh, and Enjoy!
When hungry, eat your rice; when tired, close your eyes. Fools may laugh at me, but wise men will know what I mean. —Lin-Chi