Don’t Read This if You’re Eating

I was en route home on the train from New York City eating a dry rice cake that I shoved into my purse before leaving the office when I got a text from my gal pal, Katherine. She, knowing that I enjoy to cook, sent me photos of her process as she tried a black bean soup recipe for the first time. I was starving and it looked delicious.

Knowing that she is lactose-sensitive like myself, I questioned what her substitution would be for milk in the recipe. She said that she was going rogue by using heavy cream, and I applauded her. This was brave. The validity of our friendship was once again affirmed beyond our shared affinity for The Sims.

Our conversation swung to a conceptual discussion that my dad would call “hippy dippy” (as most dialogue between liberal arts students tend to do). She noticed that the emotional state that she was in while eating truly effected her digestion, which was something that I recently took note of as well. Stress and respiration, or lack thereof, hindered my body to be chill about how I processed my food. Jokingly, I said that we needed to ~align our chakras~, and what followed caused a revelation.

I reflected on the lunch that I ate that day while hovering over my computer screen, where I shoved forkfuls of tuna into my mouth while reading the tabloids for the sake of my job. Sure — I knew that I had eaten because I had an empty plate in front of me, but my body didn’t take note of it. Truthfully, I don’t think my mind registered this as a meal until that conversation.

But this is how the average American lunch goes, as does the two other meals during the day. Eating is a side dish to our focus. We do it while “working on” something else, like watching TV or checking for zero notifications on our social media accounts. Nourishment of mind and body is impossible if both parties are not involved. The brain needs to register the monologue of, “Okay, my hand is on this fork. Now it’s going to pick up a bite of this delicious meal. Here goes the nom train into the mouth tunnel, and now, we chew.

This is how we as a society can avoid overeating, undereating and eating obvious garbage — all problems that arise from technology and privilege.

Ask any starving child who is offered a slice of bread if they want to Instagram it first and I can guarantee that they’ll laugh you into the hole whence you crept before reserving their mouth’s power to savor every bit of that crust, unfiltered.

For the next week I’m going to try eating one meal mindfully, that is, without any kind of screen, book or device standing in between me and my meal. There will be no photos, but I promise I’ll report back in a somewhat coherent manner from the depths of withdrawals.

Mia Lardiere is a pop culture writer by day and a chef by night with ambitions of chest-bumping the Barefoot Contessa, Ina Garten. She’s interviewed celebrities including Olivia Wilde and Kerry Washington, and is producing a podcast that removes the Instagram filter from the conversation of women, food, and success. This post was originally published on her blog