The Secret to Eating Consciously

How do you become more conscious about what you consume? Is it as simple as eating more vegetables and less meat? Buying meat from sustainable sources? Or do you have to go full-on vegan? Argh. The options can be confusing and overwhelming, can’t they? I turned to culinary nutritionist Sue Ann Gleason for answers because her message of taking an ease-filled approach to eating consciously resonated with me. Here’s what she had to say:

The Secret to Eating Consciously with Sue Ann Gleason

She had stone gray hair pulled back in a loosely fashioned bun, long pleated skirt, wool sweater, sensible shoes, an open book in her lap. Late sixties, early seventies, a voracious reader, I could tell. I’m that kind of reader, too.

Without taking her eyes from the page she reached into her knapsack and pulled out what appeared to be a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Bite by bite she finished that sandwich never once glancing at it, eyes fixed on the words of her book.

Next came an orange, cut in perfectly symmetrical quarters. Once again, from Ziploc baggie to mouth, eyes never leaving the book, only this time she needed two hands. Bite, pull, chew, swallow. Still, the book lay undisturbed in her lap, almost as though it knew its place, this lap.

After that, a little bag of peanuts, left over from another flight, perhaps.

You might think I’m a food voyeur and that wouldn’t be far from the truth. I love to watch people eat, particularly if they are enjoying a meal. I suspect I was riveted to this scene because it reminded me of a touchstone I revisit often in my own life and with clients.

Eat Only What You Can Savor ~ Savor What You Eat

It reminds me to eat only the foods that I truly love. Doesn’t that sound delicious?

There’s also some science that supports this concept. (I learned this little gem when I was studying the psychology of eating.) It’s called CPDR, the cephalic phase digestive response. Cephalic: ‘of the head.’

If you want to experience satiety when you eat, you really need to ‘register’ the meal. That simply means you want to note the taste, pleasure, aroma, satisfaction, and visual impact of the food you are eating. 

Digestive experts have estimated that as much as 30% to 40% of the total digestive response to any meal is due to the cephalic phase digestive response. That’s pretty impressive!

As I observed this lovely woman eating her lunch, while lost in her book, I couldn’t help but wonder if she’d be hungry again in a short while. I doubt very much she registered that meal. And, when the body doesn’t register the meal, it’s going to register hunger instead.

Has that ever happened to you? You eat a meal and you’re hungry again in an hour? Sometimes this happens when we’re eating low quality foods; think highly processed or fast food meals. More often it’s because we are eating at our computer or in front of a television set or…while reading a fantabulous novel!

So today I would love to invite you to adopt a lens called ‘savor.’ Ask yourself where you might bring more attention to the meals you are eating.

Are you eating at the counter while emptying the dishwasher? (Guilty.)

What would it feel like to set a place at the table?

Do you take the time to arrange the food beautifully on a plate? I know this can be a challenge, particularly when you have a family to feed, but give it a try.

At the very least, start noting the flavors and textures of the foods you eat.

Slow down, if even for just one meal a day. Think ease.

Here’s a yummy recipe to support this exercise: Leek Salad with Grilled Haloumi Cheese & Kamut Berries.

I love to prepare this ancient grain salad because there are so many vibrant flavors and textures in it. The density of the grain forces me to slow down and chew. Mindfully. Try it some time. It’s gorgeous.

Want more from Sue Ann? Check out her Clueless in the Kitchen online course, which begins March 20th. It’s half off this month for her birthday, with the coupon code happybirthday.

Sue Ann GleasonNourishment guide, chocolate enthusiast, and ‘wise business’ strategist, Sue Ann Gleason is a lover of words, a strong believer in the power of imagination, and a champion for women who want to live a more delicious, fully expressed life. She has been featured in Oprah and Runner’s World magazines and numerous online publications.

When not working with private clients or delivering online programs, Sue Ann can be found sampling exotic chocolates or building broccoli forests in her mashed potatoes. You can connect with her in a few different places. Delicious freebies await you.
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Penny - this makes so much sense Sue Ann. I know when I sit down during the day at the table to eat my lunch, rather than nibbling/grazing/eating whilst doing other chores, I enjoy my food more, and remember what I have eaten. I never eat at my computer though, the thought of food or crumbs on the keyboard actually makes me feel nauseated. X

Laura - Guilty, guilty, GUILTY! I spend a lot of time engrossed in books while eating and I’m sure I barely notice the food going in. In fact, I know that I’ve been surprised when I looked up from the book to realize that the plate was empty. This is a great reminder to be mindful while eating. Great post!

Allison Evans - Ah! I love this! 30-40% of our digestive response comes from our thinking about our food? Wow. That’s all I need to know. I have known intellectually about the importance of savoring my meals, but lately I have found it hard to resist reading during lunch. . . or watching a show during dinner. . . or popping up and down during breakfast to help my family out the door. Now I *really* know. Thank you, Sue Ann.

Michelle - “What would it feel like to set a place at the table?” Hmmm… That’s a great question. This single woman eats on her sofa in front of the TV every night. 😮

But I remember a glorious night in a time gone by when I was immersed in a lovely program called Clueless in the Kitchen. I DID set a place at the table. Many nights. And it was lovely.

Thank you for the gentle reminder to resurrect this practice, Sue Ann!

april - i love the word savor. i love to hear how it sounds, i love to visualize its meaning. thank you for this captivating reminder to slow down and think about our responses. to notice, to delight in, and to savor our food.

Angela - “eat only the foods that I truly love” that really changes everything doesn’t it?

I have to admit I don’t really love food, I eat it because I have to. I love to cook, especially with and for my boys and I love the way they enjoy it but for me it’s a effort. I have tried some of the recipes that Sue Ann shares and I have to say when you really do stop and notice the colours and the textures and the flavours it really does make a difference. I promise to slow down and notice and love the food that I eat. x