How to make love to your food.

Why do our hands automatically go to the television remote or our phones when it’s time to eat?

I sat down on my couch with a piping hot bowl of white rice, sautéed veggies and tender chicken contemplating what show to turn on. My phone was loudly buzzing with texts from friends and recent Instagram comments.

I simultaneously responded to my friends, and shoveled food into my mouth. The food was tasty: a subtle hint of teriyaki, but nothing too special.

Within five minutes my bowl was completely empty.

The one time of my day that I know is meant for peace, mindfulness, pleasure and nourishment came and went and I didn’t even get to fully enjoy it.

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Why do our hands automatically go to the television remote or our phones when it’s time to eat?

Why do our hands automatically go to the television remote or our phones when it’s time to eat? Image: iStock.

It comes down to this: We yearn for intimacy even when we eat.

We turn on the television to create the false appearance of intimacy, as if there are others in the room laughing and talking with us. We turn to our phones as we eat so that we can constantly communicate with people across the world, commenting on each other’s photos and life updates. We turn on music so that we have a distraction or something else to think about while we eat.

We do everything but focus on creating intimacy with the one thing we are actually engaging with: our food.

We’re not often taught how to create intimacy with food, which is why we search for other sources like TV, radio, music, books, or our phones.

Avoiding intimacy with food can lead to numerous food-related issues such as mindless eating, overeating, eating without enjoyment, and distracted eating.

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Avoiding intimacy with food can lead to overeating. Image: iStock.

So how do we create intimacy with our food again? How do we, in a sense, make love with it by being fully and completely present?

Similarly to making love to a person, the most important key to creating intimacy is to put down the distractions and become present.

This may sound simple and easy. It’s true, it’s simple. But easy? Not so much.

We are natural multitaskers, constantly trying to do several things at once. We cook as we watch TV, we drive and talk on the phone, we keep five tabs open on our computer at once, and we can carry on a conversation with a friend while pushing through an email to a co-worker. Multitasking is built within us.

I challenge you to slow down with all of your activities throughout the day so that you can be fully present within each one, but especially with eating.

Intimacy already exists within you and your food. It’s there without you having to do anything besides simply being with the food.

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When you sit down to a meal by yourself, take note of the way the food smells. How many ingredients did it take to construct the final product? How did all of the ingredients get to your plate? What colors make up your food? What’s the presentation like? What does the first bite taste like? The second? The third? How does it sit in your belly? Do any memories come up as you eat it?

Of course you don’t have to go through this process every time you eat, but start by practicing this once per day. Make an effort to put away all electronics (including music and your phone) and just be with the food.

You may feel antsy at first, and this is normal.

Continue to come back to the goal of intimacy each time you stray away from being present, reminding yourself that the more intimacy you create with your meal, the more pleasurable the experience will be.

Not only will you become more in touch with your hunger and fullness signals, but you will also digest the food better.

When you eat in a rushed, distracted, or stressed state, you may digest your food poorly, increase your stress hormones, and not be mentally full even when your body is, physically.

Fullness is an experience that’s had through both the mind and the stomach. The only way to have this experience completely is to mindfully make love to each and every meal.

This story by Maddy Moon originally appeared on Ravishly, a feminist news+culture website.

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