Cooking, Everyday Epiphany, Exercise, Family, humor

Food for Thought

Star Nosed Mole Versus Three Toed Sloth

Not another pour of wine, I thought to myself, as Mike glugged an ounce or two of Merlot into his glass.

Mike didn’t drink too much. He drank (and ate) too slowly.

I had finished my salad, mushroom topped sirloin, and side of lemon pepper asparagus ten minutes earlier. I resigned myself to another ten-minute wait while he savored his wine.

My mental “To Do” list tapped her toe as we’d fallen behind schedule. We should have cleared the table, loaded the dishwasher, and stored the leftovers by now. As a passive activity, wine savoring easily slipped into multitasking while performing kitchen tasks.

Sensing my restlessness, with a swirl and a swallow, Mike downed his Merlot and we completed the nagging chores. 

Although the chores stopped nagging, the missed cues didn’t.

Mike and I weren’t in sync. On my “Rate of Eating” spectrum he leaned toward two while I hovered around eight.

As an animal reference, the star nosed mole scored ten and the sloth one. The mole followed the “Optimal Foraging Theory” which was to capture and consume the most calories while expending the least amount of time possible. While the sloth, with his multichambered stomach, needed several weeks to digest vegetarian meals. 

The mole would have polished off the entire bottle of Merlot while the sloth reached for his wine glass.

Oddly enough, Mike and I fell victim to the rate discrepancy in our home, not in restaurants or friends’ dinner parties.

Cognitively, I knew dinner offered an opportunity to relax, connect, and, yes, savor. Mike tapped into these while I mentally calculated which storage container accommodated the remaining “Crispy Chicken Thighs with Roasted Cauliflower and Cilantro”.

Benefits awaited this mole if I scrambled neared the sloth.

As always, I whispered “How to eat slowly” into Google’s ear and attempted his following suggestions.

Minimize Distractions

To sharpen food focus, I silenced my iPhone, turned off my iPad, and instructed Alexa to play smooth jazz. I would not check texts, Google to validate facts which surfaced during dinner conversation, or wait for my current favorite song, “Call Me Senorita” by Shawn Mendes and Camila Cabello to play.

This attempt yielded mixed results. I thought about the texts that I needed to answer (Was Adela driving?) and about Mike’s comment (I KNEW Stephen King wrote “Stand by Me,” but he thought I was mistaken.). I looked to the barren landscape of my plate while a plateau of mashed potatoes and a hillock of corn formed a relief map on Mike’s. 

I listened to Natalie Cole’s “Stardust” while waiting for Mike to finish.

Savor Each Bite

To tune into my meal, I concentrated on gratitude, noted the characteristics of the food, and counted to fifteen between bites.

With smooth jazz streaming, Mike served his “Gourmet Mushroom Risotto”. During dinner conversation, I toasted the chef and expressed my thanks for cooking one of my favorites. The faintly garlicky shallots complemented the meaty portabellas while the sharp Parmesan Reggiano contrasted both. I dutifully rested my fork on the plate while I counted to fifteen between bites. I wondered if Mike soaked the skillet for easy clean up and whether the extra grated parmesan heaped on the cutting board or if he sequestered it to the cheese bin.

Even after the toasting and noting and counting, I found my plate bare while Mike’s wasn’t. With my second helping we finished nose to nose. Although this strategy worked, consuming a second helping when I no longer felt hungry wasn’t healthy.

I should have counted to thirty.

Check Surroundings

To keep pace with Mike, I tried a visual approach. 

My “Sheet Pan Shrimp Fajitas” flanked by warm tortillas, refried beans, and a choice of salsas filled the table and then our plates. Instead of counting instead of  playing “Smooth Jazz” rather than “Classic Rock” I systematically compared Mike’s plate population with mine. As his thinned, so did mine. I managed to pace myself without gimmicks.

Still, I thought of the laundry in the dryer that needed folding instead of the spicy shrimp swimming in peppers and onions that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Everyday Epiphany

It struck me that I had a similar problem with exercise. Instead of focusing on form while lifting or stretching, I rushed through or skipped exercising so I could proceed to my next obligation. Once I scheduled an exercise time like I scheduled doctor appointments I adhered to a routine.

This was my dinner time, my appointment to savor, relax, and connect. I rescheduled my laundry time for the morning. 

I poured several glugs of Sav Blanc for Mike and me. 

While savoring the grassy aroma, I eased back and asked Mike, “So you really don’t think that Stephen King wrote ‘Stand by Me’? I know he’s known for horror, but he did write it. Google it, but wait until after dinner.”

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