Give Thanks for Your Plate

Holiday meals allow families the time to do something they rarely have time to do any other day of the year — enjoy a meal together. Everything these days is so fast paced that our mealtime too has become fast. We have been trained to eat whatever our schedule allows us to — grabbing what is most convenient and eating on-the-go, and there is sometimes no recollection of what was actually eaten.

I myself have been guilty of doing this. Thinking of how much I value food and the uniqueness of every single bite, it saddens me that there are not more days spent eating and really valuing the food we eat, like we do on Thanksgiving.

I think the issue is that everyone runs like clockwork, and it is hard to break the cycle. It might not be possible to sit down for a meal every day, and there are many times when a meal really does have to be eaten quickly, but the one Thanksgiving-style thing we can do every day is to be thankful for the food we’re eating. Pausing for a moment before digging in to give thanks for the food on your plate can make the entire meal more enjoyable.

When you stop to look at what you are eating, this mental process sets you up for anticipation of what the taste will be like. Trying to utilize all your senses when eating is a great tip to conquer slower eating habits. Slowly chewing your food bite-by-bite allows you to capture the flavor and texture of the food. It makes your overall food experience better.

When you eat slowly, you are less tense and more relaxed. You will be able to enjoy your time better, and will grant your body the access to proper digestion. I enjoy every bite so much more when I’m eating mindfully, and there’s nothing better for digestion than thoroughly savoring and appreciating every single bite!

When clients ask me how to enjoy their holiday meals more, I discuss the importance of eating slowly. By eating slowly, you accomplish three things:

    • You appreciate the food you spend hours and hours making,
    • You will feel full more quickly and are less susceptible to overeating, and;
    • You get to spend more time with your loved ones around the table.

A few common tips when trying to practice slower eating are to:

    • Try taking a sip of your drink in between bites.
    • Put your fork down in between bites.
    • Count out 10 seconds before taking another bite.

Even though the holidays only come around once a year, we can still take a little bit of time every day to give thanks for our plates.

Have a happy and healthy holiday!

About the Author:

Jessica Cicalese, RD, is a dietitian for Aramark Dining Services at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, who focuses on promoting healthy eating and wellness education in an academic setting. She oversees all aspects of nutrition for USF Dining, from food allergy labeling and preventing cross-contamination, to ensuring healthy options for students with special dietary needs.

Ms. Cicalese received her clinical and food service management training at WakeMed Hospital in Cary, NC, at several assisted living facilities and through the Pinellas County Health Department.  As a certified Zumba instructor at Seriously Fun Fitness Studio in St. Petersburg, Fla., Ms. Cicalese strives to guide individuals toward a lifestyle of overall better health and well-being.

Jessica Cicalese may be contacted at:

Disclaimer: This blog post does not reflect the views of the OAC, the National Board of Directors or staff. The OAC does not endorse any merchandise, program or hyperlinks mentioned in this blog post.

Leave a Reply

© 2018 Obesity Action Coalition 4511 North Himes Avenue • Suite 250 • Tampa, Florida 33614 • (800) 717-3117