My Journey to Mindful Eating: A Tale of Two Chopsticks

 

This year my favorite summer lifestyle read is Foodist by Darya Rose. In the book she talks about upgrading your healthsyle in order to upgrade your life.  I think this quote sums up why I love this book, “Life should be awesome, and the purpose of food should be to optimize the quality of yours.”

Foodist has inspired me to improve my “healthstyle.” It encourages its readers to eat mindfully. You may be thinking “what does eating mindfully mean?!” Don’t worry, I asked myself the same question. In a nutshell, mindful eating is eating slowly enough to chew your food, really really chew your food and be truly present while you are eating. Darya Rose’s mindful eating tips can be found in her book and on her blog Summer Tomato. My favorite mindful eating tip is number six “eat everything with chopsticks for a week.”

Mindful eating is something I struggle with. I often eat way too fast in my everyday life, which  is why the mindful eating tips strongly resonated with me. When I am enjoying a nice meal with friends, I am typically able to slow down my eating because I am engaged in conversation and enjoying the experience. But how can I do this every day? My goal was/is to eat mindfully all the time. Thus began my journey with chopsticks…

Week 1: Chopstick Training.

You may be thinking “Why does someone need chopstick training?!” Well, anyone who knows me, knows that I am highly uncoordinated… let’s just say I was given the nickname “Speedbump Workman” by my friends in California (but that is a story for another time). Trust me when I say my coordination is also severely lacking in the chopstick department. I am awful with chopsticks. My middle finger always seems to get in the way preventing me from closing the chopsticks enough to grab food. So I gave myself a week to hone my chopstick skills.

It’s probably fair to assume that someone who can’t use chopsticks would not own a pair… you would be wrong. Last year my co-worker gave me a pair of beautiful chopsticks that she bought me on a trip to South Korea. My chopsticks came with a yellow raw silk carrying-case, very purse friendly.

I practiced with my pretty chopsticks all week. My conditioning began with a couple of awkward encounters with office supplies. Note to self: pens are really hard to pick up with chopsticks. And my training ended, per the suggestion of my co-worker, by using the candy bowl as my primary training ground. It was there, I acquired the skills necessary to go forth on my little journey.

 Chopsticks candies

Week 2: Game Time.

Day 1—Lunch: Pad Thai. This was my first meal with chopsticks. The restaurant gave us forks… such a tease. Instinctually, I grabbed my fork and was about to dig in when it hit me, I have my chopsticks in my purse (darn!). Yes, I am the weird human who has apparently resorted to bringing their own utensils to a restaurant. Anyway…

My first stab at the noodles with the chopsticks was fruitless. No noodles (or noodle) made it to the promise land AKA my mouth. Several stabs later, still no noodles made it to the promise land. At this point, I was cursing my candy bowl training ground. I was completely frustrated and wanted so badly to eat the delicious, untouched pad thai noodles taunting me. I threw down my chopsticks, like Bobby Flay and took two bites with the friendly fork before the guilt set in. Much to my chagrin the guilt was too much to handle, so I picked up my nemesis chopsticks and tried to eat my noodles in a way that was semi-socially acceptable.

Day 2 & 3—Lunch: Rice and Black Beans.  This meal was much easier to eat with chopsticks… it was all rainbows and butterflies, well sort of.  My former arch nemesis chopsticks transformed into a frenemy. “Frenemy” is defined as an enemy pretending to be a friend, someone you are forced to be polite to but know deep down they will never achieve friend-status, or in this case, friendly fork-status.

The stickiness of the rice turned out to compliment my less than mediocre chopstick skills. Nevertheless, on several occasions I thought I had food between my chopsticks and when they got to my mouth… low and behold, the chopsticks were foodless, definitely frenemy status.

Day 4—Dinner: Fettuccine Noodles with Red Meat Sauce.  This was a quick I-need-to-throw-something-together type of meal, otherwise I would not inflict this level of torture upon myself. When it was time to serve up dinner, I reluctantly gave my friend, Danielle and the boyfriend forks… unfortunately, I gave myself chopsticks. Warning: this meal was worse than my pad thai experience. Thankfully, I was in the privacy of my own home.

Pasta and Chopsticks

First, these whole wheat fettuccine noodles were slippery little suckers. Second, if you are a chopstick novice, like me, eating fettuccine with chopsticks is NOT advisable. There were several casualties. Sauce was unceremoniously flung into my eye by noodles that went rogue… laughing (not by me) and mild screams (me) ensued. One of the “rewards” I received from this meal was that my new gray t-shirt is now adorned with sporadic splatters of red sauce. This once pristine t-shirt is now proudly worn (red splatters and all) around the house as a badge of honor commemorating my week with chopsticks.

Chopsticks tshirt

Day 5—Snack: Almonds. It turns out that snacking on almonds with chopsticks generates weird looks and double-takes from co-workers. However, I must say that I was impressed by how much my dexterity had improved. Total Casualties: 3—RIP my almond friends.

Chopsticks and Almonds

The Exception. 

Although Foodist recommends eating everything with chopsticks, I was reticent about busting out my chopsticks “skills”  in a couple situations:

First, eating a sandwich in public with chopsticks is pretty much where I draw the line. I don’t mind a little public humiliation or pasta sauce in the eyes, but the thought of poking and tearing at my delicious ham, brie, and arugula sandwich with apricot preserves from Forward Foods was too much to handle. Additionally, I was eating with a friend and was able to use other mindful eating tactics.

Second, eating with chopsticks is a no-go for me at breakfast. Yes, I realize this is 33% of my meals. However, my morning routine is a delicate balance, everything is timed to perfection. Eating my eggs with chopsticks and dropping them on my silk blouse 5 minutes before running out the door is bound to send my morning into a tailspin, one which I am unlikely to recover from.

Despite not eating everything with chopsticks for a week, I am now more cognizant of my eating habits. The chopsticks have gone from arch nemesis, to frenemy, to respected acquaintance. But more importantly, my experience with food this week has made my life a little more awesome, splattered t-shirt and all. It would be a shame if I was the only person to experience this much awesome, you should try it!!

Thank you Darya Rose and Foodist!

 

In case you need more convincing, here are more reasons why eating everything with chopsticks is awesome…

Chopsticks Cheetos

Chopsticks Mr. Miyagi

Chopsticks Walrus

Chopsticks Cheewie

Sweet Brown Chopsticks

Cheers,

Linds