Mention the words “all you can eat buffet” to most people and a few scenarios are conjured up: heaven on earth; hell; pig out; choices; full bellies. What doesn’t usually come to mind is the concept of mindful eating.
This has come up with several of my clients recently. One went on a cruise. The other is thinking ahead about a cruise. And I am on a vacation in Bora Bora where every breakfast is a buffet. The tables are laden with breakfast foods from around the world meeting the needs of an international clientele: “traditional” American breakfasts of eggs and bacon and hash browns; Japanese breakfasts of miso soup and rice; breads and rolls; crepes; vegetables, cheese, salami; yogurt, cereal, fruit…
You get the picture!
Here are 10 tips and tools to help you navigate your way around the room:
1. Begin by surveying the options to find out what is available.
2. Check in with yourself by getting quiet for a moment to see what truly speaks to you at this time. Ask yourself: What am I hungry for? What would be nourishing? How do I want to feel after I complete this meal? What looks truly delicious? Focus on whole, not processed, foods.
3. Stop and breathe before you start selecting your foods. Get present.
4. Remember the “green” concept of avoiding food waste. Another way of saying this is: “take all you want; eat all you take”. This doesn’t mean the old clean plate concept of stuffing yourself after you are full. This does mean that you should take small amounts that you know you want to eat and have room to eat. Use small plates or bowls. Choose one or just a few food/s at a time. Remember: you can go back for more.
5. Know in your heart that it is an abundant world and that there will be more food. You don’t need to eat it all now.
6. Eat slowly! Remember to chew! Put your fork down between bites.
7. Use your senses. How does your food look, smell, taste? When selecting your choices, put them on your plate in a conscious way that looks beautiful.
8. Put away the technology. Enjoy your dining companions. If you are eating solo – be OK with that. Notice your surroundings.
9. Practice gratitude with a moment of silence or a blessing or a prayer. Practice appreciation for everyone that made this food available to you – the farmers, those that transported it. Thank the staff.
10. Enjoy your meal!
Bonus Tip: Taste and try something new!
Neshama Mousseau, MSW