How to Savor Life More or…Why I Eat with Chopsticks

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If one oversteps the bounds of moderation, the greatest pleasures cease to please.—Epictetus

Do you sip life or gulp it?

Common sense and proverbs have always suggested that moderation is a key to a balanced lifestyle.

Now scientific studies also support that belief .[1]

Too much of a chocolate thing

College students were asked to sample a piece of chocolate.

Half of the students were then asked to avoid chocolate for a week, while the other half were given a 2 pound bag of chocolate and instructions to eat as much chocolate as they liked.

The following week, the students returned for a followup sampling.

As might be suspected, the students who abstained from chocolate reported equal levels of satisfaction while the overindulgers reported much lower levels of satisfaction.

So why do we overindulge?

I believe the biggest reason we overindulge is because we can.

In America, we are blessed with an abundance of relatively affordable products to satisfy just about every taste and desire.

 Super-sized consumption

According to the Department of Health and Human Services National Institutes of Health, the calories in a serving of each of the foods below increased as follows over the last 20 years. [2]

 Food
Calories Then
Calories Now
Increase
 Bagel
140
350
210
 Cheeseburger
330
590
260
 Spaghetti and Meatballs
500
1025
525
 French Fries
210
610
400
 Soda
85
250
165
 Turkey Sandwich
320
820
500

 

Biggie-size The Last Supper?

I recently read where researchers analyzed the food and plate sizes in 52 of the most famous paintings of The Last Supper from years A.D.1000 to A.D. 2000. [3]

They found that the main course size increased by 69%, plate size 66% and loaves of bread 23%. The biggest increases in size came after A.D. 1500.

More and bigger are now the expectation, rather than the exception.

Impacts of overindulging

But increased indulgence doesn’t translate to good physical and mental health.

Continued overindulgence causes our brain to require increasingly larger doses of the same stimulus to achieve the same level of satisfaction.

According to the CDC, obesity has increased dramatically from 1990 to 2010. [4]

  • More than one-third of U.S. adults (35.7%) are obese.
  • Obesity-related conditions include heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and certain types of cancer, some of the leading causes of preventable death.
  • In 2008, medical costs associated with obesity were estimated at $147 billion; the medical costs for people who are obese were $1,429 higher than those of normal weight.

All this overindulging, has changed our expectation of what is required to create a satisfying experience.

Birthdays gone wild

When I was a kid we had a cake, maybe some ice cream and we played simple games at home.

Today the expectation is the Chucke E. Cheese’s ® experience with a variety of foods, games and entertainment for all ages.

So maybe we need to adjust our expectations.

Why I eat with chopsticks

About a year ago I started eating with chopsticks.

Yes, I get an odd look occasionally but I don’t use them just for the sake of novelty.

In 2005, I was unexpectedly diagnosed with diabetes.

Rather than take larger doses of insulin, I’ve chosen to treat my ailment with exercise and disciplined eating, including:

  • Lower calorie foods
  • Portion control
  • Eating more slowly

I’ve always enjoyed eating with chopsticks in oriental restaurants so I decided to try it at home.

What I discovered is they promote:

  • Smaller bites – easier to chew
  • Slower eating – better digestion more savoring
  • Less overeating – my brain recognizes I am full before I get too full
  • Better control
  • More attention to what you are eating

Fun tip: If you want to keep your fingers free from salt and oil, try eating a bag of chips with chopsticks.

Overall, the chopsticks encourage moderation and engagement, which results in a more fulfilling dining experience.

How can we translate this to everyday living?

Benefits of a “chopstick” lifestyle

Consuming life in smaller bites has similar benefits.

  • Smaller bites of life are easier to manage.
  • Slowing down the pace of life allows us to savor more.
  • Not gorging on life, allows us to set attainable expectations for today.
  • We feel more in control of our life.
  • We can live in the moment rather than looking for the next bite.

4 steps to develop a more moderate lifestyle

So if you are ready to practice a little more moderation in your life, here are some easy steps to get you started.

  1. Identify the behavior you want to change.
  2. Plan how you will change your behavior – what does success look like?
  3. Take small steps – set attainable goals.
  4. If you do overindulge, don’t give up. Decide to do better the next time.

Moderate living will help you savor your life more. And the more you savor your life, the more you will have to give to others.

What do you think? Is moderation a good thing? What have you done to practice moderation in your life?

References:

[1} http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/08/opinion/sunday/dont-indulge-be-happy.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all

[2] http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/portion/index.htm

[3] http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/weightloss/2010-03-23-lastsupper23_ST_N.htm

[4] http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

To learn more about the increase in portions and their impact on health check out this Portion Distortion Quiz.

http://hp2010.nhlbihin.net/portion/portion.cgi?action=question&number=1

Photo Credit: Microsoft Photos

This post was written by...

– who has written 90 posts on Robert Rizzo.

Robert is the founder of RobertRizzo.com | Mediocrity-Free Living. He is passionate about helping people discover the rewards of daily giving.

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