Be mindful, eat chocolate

Ever notice how when you wolf down, say, deep dish pizza while watching, oh, I don’t know, The Biggest Loser, And talking on the phone to your best friend, you wind up paying so  much attention to everything but the food that, seven minutes later, your ‘za is gone, you’ve got sauce on your shirt and you barely remember what the food even tasted like?

Not that this has happened to me (except it has.)

So I was intrigued when I received an email challenging me to eat some chocolate mindfully. The idea came from Susan Albers, a psychologist and author of Eat, Drink & Be Mindful: How to End Your Struggle with Mindless Eating and Start Savoring Food with Intention and Joy. Albers doesn't advocate avoiding chocolate (or other “trigger” or “bad” foods) completely, but rather suggests eating the sweet stuff in a new way.

Here’s how to do it:

1. Get into a comfortable position
2. Notice the weight of a piece of chocolate in your hand.
3. Observe the shape and color.
4. As you unwrap it, listen to the crinkle of the foil or paper.
5. Bring the chocolate up to your nose, and inhale deeply. Notice what thoughts come in your mind as you do this. Let the thoughts come and go.
6. Place the chocolate in your mouth. Notice the flavor, richness, and texture.
 
I tried this with a Whoopie Pie. Not intentionally – at first I was just taking huge, glorious bites and softly moaning. But then I forced myself to sit on the couch and actually closed my eyes. I smelled the Whoopie (my, that sounded naughty!) and then took a bite with my eyes closed. Oh. My. God. It tasted about 8,000 times BETTER with my peepers shut. It must be akin to how blind people develop a sharper sense of hearing – when one sense is deprived, the others pick up the slack. I was shocked.

Not sure how practical this would be in a restaurant. (Though there are a few places in LA and NY where you eat in total darkness in an effort to intensify the flavors. I know this because I watch Rock of Love.) But in the comfort of my own home, it was chocolatey heaven.

Try it!

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