When you have a craving for a food you love, do you think you have to eat it all or just not eat it all? Would you be satisfied with just a taste? Women, Food and God author Geneen Roth explains why you don't have to give up anything if you just understand why you're eating it and savor it, bite by bite.
My husband, Matt, returned from a business trip last week and asked me this question: If you had to give up either hot water or sex, which would it be? Matt teaches company executives about the value of laughter and play, and I trust him completely, but still. Hot water or sex?
"Tell me about your business trip," I said nonchalantly. He laughed. "Just answer the question."
"Could we still kiss? Hug?" I asked. He nodded his head yes. "Now, answer the question."
"Sex," I said after a few long minutes.
"Okay," he said, "here's the next question. If you had to give up either hot water or laughter, what would you choose?" "Hot water," I said. "Without laughter, the rest wouldn't mean very much."
As I pondered the choices, I asked myself what I would have chosen if he'd asked me about giving up chocolate. I believe in laughter, I really do, but I also believe in chocolate. I've gone without hot water, sex and laughter, but in the past 15 years, I can't remember going without chocolate for more than 24 hours. Chocolate makes me happy to be alive. Every day, after lunch, I have one piece of 77 percent bittersweet chocolate.
One piece, that's all.
One piece fills the mouth, saturates the taste buds, evokes heaven on earth. During my years of dieting and binging, I never thought I could eat one piece of anything. It was either the whole box or nothing at all. I was afraid of food. I was afraid to give myself what I loved.
As I've worked with people over the past couple of decades, I've discovered that most feel the same way as I did. They don't believe it's possible to eat just one piece of anything they love. They believe that once they start, they will never stop. They think they need control and willpower to stop emotional eating, which means depriving themselves of foods they love. I understand why, given our past experiences of eating like starving dogs, deprivation seems like the only wise choice. However, I want to suggest a new way to eat foods you love: Consider taking one piece. One bite. One chunk.
Most of the time, we are so busy wanting the next thing, the piece that we don't have, that we don't allow ourselves to enjoy the one that's in our mouth. When we are busy focusing on what we don't have, we don't pay attention to what we do have.
Wanting is different from having. Wanting is in the future. It is based on an idea of what might make you happy in five minutes, tomorrow, next week. But having is here, now. Most of us don't let ourselves have what's in front of us, so we're always wanting more. When you don't let yourself have what you already have, you are always hungry, always searching, always restless.
How to savor your food