Reflecting on what I’m grateful for is something I find extremely productive. It is an exercise I find helps increase happiness, reduce stress, and is a mode of practicing presence. I’d like to make this style of writing a recurring segment, and all of these posts will be tagged under grateful.
Starting last month, I transitioned from a bulking phase where I prioritized gaining muscle mass, to a cutting phase, where I’ve entered a caloric deficit to prioritize losing fat. As such, I’ve needed to reduce food intake substantially. During this process, my opinion and approach to food has evolved. With the lower intake of food, I’ve also employed certain techniques and behaviours that allow me to feel more satiated.
One of the biggest changes I’ve made is focusing on my food. Normally, while eating my meal I’d pull out my phone and watch videos, or scroll through Twitter. Occasionally I’d eat with my parents, or with friends at work, and there I’d engage in conversation. In either case, I was actively doing something else while eating.
By focusing on my food, a few things have happened.
I eat slower, chew more, experience flavour at a higher level and feel more satiated.
While you may not agree that these are positive outcomes, I have personally experienced benefits by eating slowly, and chewing more. I’ve noticed improvements in my digestion, levels of satiation, and exercising control. Regardless of how hungry you are, to be able to eat at a moderate cadence is a sign of control, and I believe it’s one we should practice. It’s also a pillar of Ayurveda which is something I’m currently exploring.
A second order effect of focusing on my food is an increase in gratitude for it. One day, as I was eating, I had the experience of observing the warmth of the food enter my mouth, where with each bite the flavour and energy of the food dispersed throughout my body. It was a weird, almost transcendental feeling – but what I really felt was grateful. I was genuinely content with the food I was consuming. I wasn’t critical of the taste, or the flavour.
Framing food as solely fuel for your body has been a helpful mindset change. It encourages healthy eating (because who doesn’t want you put the best fuel in their body), a detachment from the taste (the fuel doesn’t need to taste good), and a level of appreciation (for getting the much needed fuel). In fact, since the mindset change, I haven’t experienced food that tasted bad. Perhaps it’s confirmation bias, but either way, by its merits alone, the mindset is worth adopting.
It’s very easy to take food for granted. It helps to know that hundreds of thousands of years ago there were human species that hadn’t yet domesticated fire, and that most of the food they consumed was cold and hard to digest. It was progression in our species that allowed the capture of fire, and in turn heat, and hot food.
The next time you have a warm bowl of oatmeal, a hot roti off of the pan, or a bowl of soup, I encourage you to perform this exercise of being mindful while eating.