I was in a sushi restaurant last week. I was with some friends and we were sitting at the sushi bar. I couldn’t help but notice the way the man sitting next to me was eating.
He had ordered a few different rolls and they were exquisite. The sushi chef had delicately crafted a piece of art out of rice, fish, and vegetables. There was a tomato that looked exactly like a rose and I am certain one of the rolls could have rivaled a Monet in its beauty. The chef had used knives the size of toothpicks to carve out shapes of dragons and arranged them perfectly on the plate. I was in awe of its beauty and excited for the pleasure this man was going to experience as he bit into the soft, melt in your mouth delicacy.
Unfortunately to my horror, he picked up the first one without so much as an appreciative glance and popped it into his mouth. I was watching pretty closely (as rude as that is) and noticed that he didn’t even chew it but kept it there for a brief moment before popping another one in right after. He had about 2 quick chews and then took a swig of Sapporo before swallowing them down. This is when I looked at my watch. It said 7:26 pm.
I continued to stare unable to take my eyes away as he proceeded to eat them all in the same manner, shoving them into his mouth, never tasting, never experiencing the joy of the food. He just swallowed them down and before the last one had cleared his throat he had gulped down another and another. The plate was pushed away and the next set of fuel was placed in front of him at exactly 7:30 pm. He ate 10 rolls and 4 pieces of sushi in 4 minutes.
It takes 20 minutes for the body to realize it is full. This man would have had to eat 50 rolls and 20 pieces of sushi before his brain registered he was done.
This is not an uncommon eating practice and since the unfortunate blaspheming of the art of Japanese food I have been paying more attention to the eating habits of everyone I know, myself included.
I honestly believe that people have forgotten to enjoy their food and I think it is a large contributing factor to the rise of obesity in our world right now. We shovel food into our mouths at an alarming rate. We eat on the bus, in the car, watching T.V., walking down the street, talking on the phone. We are unconscious of what we put in our mouth because we are too busy doing other things. All our focus about food is before: what will I eat, and after: when will I eat again. While we are eating it is like a race to make sure it ends as quickly as possible.
Since the Sushi incident, as it will now be known, I have made a conscious effort to eat only while sitting down at a table and all I have allowed myself to do is eat. This afternoon I made myself a peanut butter and jam sandwich and I savored it. I toasted those gorgeous pieces of bread and let the pb melt just a little on the warm toast. I cut it in triangles and chewed each bite relishing in the perfectness that is an all American lunch favorite. I focused on my food while I ate it and in doing so let myself be free of focusing on it afterwards.
We have become so afraid of our food. Someone mentions carbs and we cower in fear. Food and diet come up in conversations daily and everyone has a plan, story, or secret. Cupboards across the country are filled with low fat, low cal, low taste, sinless bags of artificial puffed rice balls made to taste like chicken or chocolate or Oreos. We feel guilty about eating and so we try and get it over with as fast as we can. We have taken all the fun out of eating because it is somehow wrong to enjoy our food.
I say, “No!” Stand up and praise your food. Praise the body you have that makes you capable and able to accomplish all you do and reward it by letting your taste buds experience all the meal has to offer. Take your time, enjoy it, chew your food well and in turn you will eat less, and make better choices.