The sight of a plateful of petits fours — elaborately decorated, multi-layered, bite-sized French teacakes created for the "let them eat cake" crowd during the reign of Marie Antoinette — corresponds metaphorically in our mind's eye to the classic Cold Turkey Cookbook plateful of small portions of a variety of good things to eat (see below). (Divine Delights photo)
"Have you learned to eat consciously? Has it changed your life?" the WSJs Health Journal columnist Melinda Beck asks readers, noting that "mindful eating," which has "roots in Buddhism, is being studied at several academic medical centers and the National Institutes of Health as a way to combat eating disorders":
Many past diet plans have stressed not overeating. What's different about mindful eating is the paradoxical concept that eating just a few mouthfuls, and savoring the experience, can be far more satisfying than eating an entire cake mindlessly.
It sounds so simple, but it takes discipline and practice. It's a far cry from the mindless way many of us eat while walking, working or watching TV, stopping only when the plate is clean or the show is over.
Painterly vision of our supper this evening, a potpourri of sweet and savory morsels to tempt the eye and palate. AND they're good for you. We knocked the photographic image up a notch using Photoshop's "rough pastels" and "paint daubs" filters. Clockwise from lower left: Potato Meltdown, Harvest Meatballs, Corny Cornbread Mini Muffin, Roasted Beets with dollop of sour cream (grabbed from Googleland and dropped into the image) and Sweet Potato Puree.
It turns out that we've been practicing "mindful eating" ourselves since May 30 last year, when — deciding we'd had enough of waddling through life on the wrong side of the BMI divide — "we jumped on the wagon cold turkey … cutting out the booze [except on weekends and special occasions], the second helpings and the midnight snacks." The pounds started melting away — 41 and counting — as we experimented with recipes for The Cold Turkey Cookbook. By the end of July we "bucked decades of denial, headed out to Bed, Bath & Beyond and bought a bathroom scale to replace the one we had thrown down the stairs and kicked out of the house in blind rage many years and several diets ago."
More fun with Photoshop filters, this time showcasing the inside of our refrigerator, where stacks of containers contain a motherlode of leftovers, something we rarely had in the larder during our pre-mindful-eating days of gorging early and often. Good for the pocketbook too.
As the Mother of All Sensible Eating — our elegant, swelegant sis — always says, if you have a lot of different savory and sweet things on the plate in small amounts, it seems like a lot of food but doesn't put on the pounds. And she's got the figure to prove it. More good stuff from that WSJ report:
Chronic dieters in particular have trouble recognizing their internal cues, says Jean Kristeller, a psychologist at Indiana State, who pioneered mindful eating in the 1990s. "Diets set up rules around food and disconnect people even further from their own experiences of hunger and satiety and fullness," she says.
Mindful eaters learn to assess taste satiety. A hunger for something sweet or sour or salty can often be satisfied with a small morsel. In one exercise, Ms. Kristeller has clients mindfully eat a single raisin — noticing their thoughts and emotions, as well as the taste and texture. "It sounds somewhat silly," she explains, "but it can also be very profound."
"We like the idea of fewer calories, but never at the expense of taste, rib-stickiness and mouth feel," we captioned It's Better than Ham and Cheese on English, above on our Cold Turkey Cookbook title page. "Danish ham and Havarti on toasted Corny Cornbread fills the bill with an added plus, allowing the eater to express solidarity with the Danes in the ongoing Cartoon Wars."
"More NIH-funded trials are under way to study whether mindful eating is effective for weight loss, and for helping people who have lost weight keep it off," says the WSJ. As we said in comments, "It's mind over matter, and it worked for me."
Forget about French teacakes. Let them eat sushi! (USA rice Federation photo of Maki Sushi)
Their tiny morsels, packed with flavor,
Are works of art for you to savor.
"The pounds melt off with shocking ease."