Every January millions of people resolve to live their lives differently in ways big and small. Most of the time our focus on these changes begins to wane as the year gets fully underway – by the end of the month most people waver, and by February so many well-intentioned resolutions have fallen by the wayside. Research shows that we are more likely to make changes that last if we can truly make them new habits and integrate them into our daily lives.
This year I wanted to make a change to how I eat. I’ve long struggled with a tendency to eat too quickly and lose the chance to truly savor my food. This decreases my enjoyment of the food I eat and can make a meal feel mechanical – just putting fuel in the proverbial engine without really nourishing the senses. It also interferes with good digestion: with less time I chew less thoroughly and add food to my digestive system too rapidly. Moreover, consuming food quickly impairs my body’s ability to regulate how much I eat – the meal can be over before my satiety reflex has had the chance to let me know that I’d actually eaten all my body needed several bites ago.
I wanted to add a simple practice that would integrate into my everyday life, something that could be a habit at each meal. I came across the idea of putting my fork down between each bite of food and not picking it back up until I am finished chewing and swallowing the current bite. Instead of loading up the fork for the next bite, eating this way brings my attention to chewing more completely and to enjoying the flavors in the food. I eat more slowly, my digestion has improved, and my body has the chance to let me know when it is full. As a result I am both relishing my food much more and eating significantly less of it. Here’s to healthy new habits for 2016!