When you sit down (or stand up?) to eat, are you sick of the "shoulds" and want more of the "savors" of a meal? I did.
Because of my grew-up-dieting childhood, I used to rely solely on external rules and control (a.k.a. diets) to govern my eating. We all know those eventually lead to rebel-raids of the pantry. Now I believe that internal cues and mindful pleasure are the path to healthy eating.
As a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor, I continue to read and experiment. I often read about the French way of slowing down and savoring a meal by using courses. So, I decided to turn a typical lunch into a five course meal.
Typical lunch: Salad greens topped with tomatoes, chicken, and a bit of cheese/dressing. Fruit, either in the salad or as a dessert. What did the five courses look like and what did I learn?
The tomatoes became an appetizer
The chicken and some of the vegetables became an entree
The simple salad course came next
The cheese course
Fruit plus a bite of dark chocolate for dessert
What I liked? The fresh tomatoes did not get lost in the salad. Delicious. Each plate had much more focus and pleasure. Even the truly tiny bit of effort to plate each course added to the enjoyment and focus. It would have been almost impossible to eat mindlessly.
It did not take longer to prepare and only a bit longer to clean up. The meal lasted about 30 minutes (eating slower plus getting up to change courses) vs. 10-15 minutes to eat it all in one big salad.
The only down side, and this is because I am not used to eating this way, was figuring out how much food I needed to satisfy my hunger and bring my energy up to normal. Spreading it out over five courses made it look like a massive amount of food, so I reduced a couple of portion sizes, did not add dressing on my salad greens, and cut half a banana instead of a whole.
After the meal I kept thinking "I just had a five course meal, why am I still hungry?" Part of Intuitive Eating is not making yourself go hungry. So, I ate another bite of cheese (probably bringing the fat content of the meal closer to what a little salad dressing would have added) and the other half banana. Then I was satisfied and had energy for hours.
I enjoyed it so much I will continue experimenting with the multi-course concept.
What about you? Are you willing to experiment and see how a multi-course meal helps you to slowly savor your food?